While former President Barack Obama was in office, his administration repeatedly lied to both the American people and leaders of other countries. Back when Syria was thought to be considering the use of chemical weapons, Obama claimed that a “red line” was drawn and if crossed, he would take military action. However, when the line was actually crossed, he didn’t respond with force.
Instead, he tried to negotiate. But by attempting to broker a deal with President Bashar Al Assad after his regime crossed the line, the United States failed to respond appropriately. Not only was it a sign of weakness, it was also ineffective. Their nonviolent approach was thought to have facilitated the complete removal of chemical weapons from the country without military action. Their effort was a complete failure. There were still many chemical weapons in the country.
Although they still had weapons of mass destruction, ex-government officials actively tried to cover up the fact. Susan Rice, the former National Security Adviser, claimed that the U.S. was “able to get the Syrian government to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical weapons stockpile” through peaceful talks. This was clearly not true. They continued to be used in the war-torn country, and as a result of her dishonesty, many Americans began to conclude that U.S. government wasn’t being entirely honest.
Since it was clear they still had the illegal substances, she received a massive amount of criticism. Writers at the Washington Post fact-checked her and ended up giving her claim “Four Pinocchios,” stating, “she did not explain that Syria’s declaration was believed to be incomplete and thus was not fully verified and that the Syrian government still attacked citizens with chemical weapons not covered by the 2013 agreement. That tipped her wordsmithing toward a Four.”
In 2014, former Secretary of State John Kerry then attempted to clarify what they meant when they said they got rid of Assad’s chemical weapons despite the fact that they’re still being used. He stated that they “got 100 percent of the declared chemical weapons out of Syria.” Since only “declared” contraband was removed, the former administration left the door open for “undeclared” weapons to still exist. Supposedly, the chemical agents that were recently used were either undeclared or manufactured afterward.
Some argue that Rice and Kerry aren’t lying, they’re exaggerating. According to reporters at the Washington Post, “the Obama administration had a tendency to oversell what was accomplished, perhaps because Obama received so much criticism for not following through on an attack if Syria crossed what Obama had called ‘a red line.’” However, receiving a lot of criticism is not an appropriate reason to mislead others. What they did was absolutely wrong. Despite trying to excuse their behavior, the reporters did acknowledge “that there were continued chemical weapons attacks by Syria” and admitted that “U.S. and international officials had good evidence that Syria had not been completely forthcoming in its declaration and possibly retained sarin and VX nerve agent,” further showing that the government lied.
The U.S. has also not been very forthcoming about their knowledge of chemical weapons in the country. There’s a lot of strong evidence suggesting that the former administration knew about the weapons of mass destruction despite insisting otherwise. First, National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster claimed that when they retaliated against Syria, they intentionally avoided what they believed to be was an area where sarin gas is stored. Specifically, he said, “there were also measures put in place to avoid hitting what we believe is a storage of sarin gas so that that would not be ignited and cause a hazard to civilians or anyone else.” This means that the military had prior knowledge of this site.
Second, while speaking to Congress about Syria, the former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, claimed he was convinced that they still had weapons of mass destruction. According to him, “Syria has not declared all the elements of its chemical weapons program to the Chemical Weapons Convention.” To clarify, he said, “we continue to judge that the Syrian regime has used chemicals as a means of warfare since…2013.” On top of that, he added, “as of 2016, Abbas has continued operating at locations in Syria associated with chemical-warfare-related missions.” This means that operations were being conducted in regions that have been recently attacked by chemical weapons.
Clapper noted that in addition to sarin gas and VX nerve agent, “chlorine had been used on Syrian opposition forces in multiple incidents in 2014 and 2015.” He concluded that the Syrian government was responsible for the attacks, and not the rebels, because “helicopters, which only the Syrian regime possesses, were used in several of these attacks.” In a ten week period, over thirty chlorine attacks by Assad had been reported, killing vast numbers of innocent women and children.
Third, the U.S. Department of the Treasury created even more sanctions on the country. To justify their actions, the U.S. claimed that the Syrian leader was still using chemical weapons, proving that they knew they weren’t all gone. Despite all of the evidence showing a continued use of chemical weapons in Syria, Obama and his team still attempted to mislead the public into thinking that they were all gone.
Currently, it’s unclear how long our military knew about the chemical weapons being stored at that location. If this information was known during Obama’s time in office, then that would mean his officials knowingly lied to the public when they claimed all of the weapons were gone. The former administration should have engaged in military action. However, because they didn’t more innocent people were brutally killed.
Trump’s response to Syria’s misconduct has been much different. The recent attacks against innocent women and children moved the President to take action. In response to the horrific attack, the U.S. used over fifty rockets to damage the airstrip responsible for the attack. During a press briefing about his decision to bomb the airfield, he claimed, “even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered at this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.” The current president is responding the way the former should have. He is taking decisive action and sending a strong message that weapons of mass destruction will not be normalized.
The recent attack in Syria further proves that many in the Obama administration are blatant liars. They failed to persuade Assad to get rid of all of his chemical weapons and tried to cover up their failure by announcing that they were successful. As a consequence, innocent children were killed by the ruthless dictator. There could have been steps taken to stop this from happening. But because certain people decided to be dishonest, more people were slaughtered. Those that lied to the American people must be held accountable. The President should work with Congress to make sure that this type of deceit won’t happen again.