Almost exactly a year ago today President Obama said, ""We have been very clear to the (Bashar 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."
Since making those comments there have been reports that chemical weapons have been used in the conflict in Syria. The most recent of these reports were released earlier today after Syrian opposition activists said that hundreds of people were killed in an apparent chemical weapons attack outside Damascus. The news comes a few days after United Nations inspectors arrived in Syria to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons. Unsurprisingly Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has already criticized Obama for not responding to the reported use of chemical weapons.
While McCain may be wrong about what should be done in Syria he is right to point out that Obama has changed his policy on Syria in light of reports that his own "red line" being crossed.
Unfortunately for Obama the nation's highest ranking military officer and most of the American public don't think further intervention in Syria would be a good idea. Yesterday it was reported that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, told Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y) in a letter dated Aug. 19 that rebels in Syria would not support U.S. interests, effectively ruling out military operations in Syria.
However, it is worth remembering that public opinion on intervention does shift when the use of chemical weapons is considered, and there is already some speculation that the heart-wrenching photos of the attack reported today could sway American public opinion on intervention in Syria.