Why Obama Changed Course on Syria
President Obama said in 2012 that if the Assad regime in Syria carried out a chemical weapons attack, it would be a "red line," whose crossing would bring "enormous consequences." So, when Assad appeared to cross that line in August 2013, Obama ordered the U.S. military to get ready.
Use the following videos and articles to help you answer the questions below. Attached your answers as a Word doc or PDF file.
- What had been the Obama administration's approach to Syria between 2011 and this August 2013 attack?
- Explain what Obama meant when he "drew a red line" with Syria in August 2012.
- After it was crossed, explain how Obama's response may have harmed America's international credibility.
- Why did Obama make this decision anyway? What factors did Pres. Obama have to take into consideration when making this decision? Be sure to include both domestic factors and international factors.
- What does this particular incident tell us about the complexity of IR and the role of key decision makers?
Pres. Trump made a very different decision in April 2017.
- Why did he decide to launch an attack on Syria? What justification does he give?
- How was the decision-making context different for the U.S. president in 2017, versus 2013, in the case of Syria? Be sure to consider domestic changes (new president, Congressional leadership, public opinion, etc.) and international changes (relations with Russia, EU, NATO, actors in Syria, etc.).