President Barack Obama, August 20, 2012:
I have, at this point, not ordered military engagement in the situation. But the point that you made about chemical and biological weapons is critical. That’s an issue that doesn’t just concern Syria; it concerns our close allies in the region, including Israel. It concerns us. We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people.
We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.
The president was clearly saying that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would result in “military engagement” by the United States.
Now, with the president acknowledging the use of Sarin gas, allegedly by the Assad regime, we find out what Obama meant when he said it would “change my calculus:”
The United States and Russia reached an agreement Thursday on a plan to seize Syria’s chemical weapons in a move the Obama administration deemed a diplomatic breakthrough, even though the resolution stops short of triggering military action should Syria fail to comply.
Russian President Vladimir Putin released the following statement regarding the “diplomatic breakthrough:”