If Assad used chemical weapons, what will Obama do?

President Barack Obama, November 30, 2010.

From the Editors of the Chicago Tribune:  Concluding that Assad has indeed used chemical weapons would put immense pressure on Obama to follow through on his warnings. That could bring a range of American actions. Among them: The U.S. could more directly arm the rebels. It could help impose a no-fly zone over parts of Syria to ground Assad’s air force. It could bomb access roads where chemical weapons are transported, to make moving the chemicals difficult if not impossible.

We’ve long argued that the U.S. should directly arm the rebels. That move could help shorten this bloody civil war. But don’t kid yourself, post-Assad Syria is likely to be messy: The rebels are divided, and militants with strong al-Qaida ties are among the forces fighting the regime. They will be eager to grab power if Assad falls.

Whether Assad has crossed Obama’s red line or not, one thing has not changed: The U.S. and its allies have a self-interest in establishing a free, democratic Syria whose leaders don’t cozy up to terrorists or to the mullahs of Iran. Breaking Syria free of Iran’s orbit would be a devastating blow to Tehran. It also could cut a vital weapons supply route for the terrorists of Hezbollah.

The stakes are enormous for the Middle East and beyond. The world is watching how President Obama digs in, or dances away, from his red line warning.  (photo: Getty)  (via Real Clear World)

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