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By Russ Read
Former President Barack Obama called the red line he drew in Syria regarding Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons on civilians “an imperfect solution” Monday.
Obama noted that sending U.S. forces into battle was the “hardest issue” he had to deal with during his tenure. While he admitted his Syria policy was flawed, he also defended his decision not to bomb Assad after it became clear he used chemical weapons on civilians, claiming the decision took “the most political courage.”
“But I actually think that the issue that required the most political courage was the decision not to bomb Syria after the chemical weapons use had been publicized and rather to negotiate them removing chemical weapons from Syria,” Obama said in an interview, after he received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. “Now, we know subsequently that some remained, so it was an imperfect solution. But what we also know is that 99 percent of huge chemical weapons stockpiled were removed without us having to fire a shot.”
It became evidently clear that Assad had failed to give up a portion of his chemical weapons after his forces allegedly engaged in a major attack on Khan Shaykhun that killed at least 74 people.
Obama said his decision was particularly difficult because president’s often get “praised for taking military action,” while they are criticized for failing to do so.