What could possibly go wrong?
President Obama is preparing to send lethal weaponry to the Syrian opposition and has taken steps to assert more aggressive U.S. leadership among allies and partners seeking the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad, according to senior administration officials.
The officials emphasized that political negotiation remains the preferred option. To that end, the administration has launched a new effort to convince Russian President Vladimir Putin that the probable use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government — and the more direct outside intervention that could provoke — should lead him to reconsider his support of Assad.
But Obama, who spoke by telephone with Putin on Monday and is sending Secretary of State John F. Kerry to Moscow in the coming days, is likely to make a final decision on the supply of arms within weeks, before a scheduled meeting with Putin in June, officials said.
Confirmation of the use of chemical weapons by the government, Obama said Tuesday, would mean “there are some options that we might not otherwise exercise that we would strongly consider.”
At a news conference, he emphasized the need to “make sure I’ve got the facts. . . . If we end up rushing to judgment without hard, effective evidence, we can find ourselves in a position where we can’t mobilize the international community to support” additional action. Administration officials have made repeated reference to the Bush administration’s inaccurate claims of weapons of mass destruction to justify its invasion of Iraq.