President Barack Obama’s ad-libbed warning that Syria must not cross a chemical weapons “red line” first boxed him into a threat to attack Syria and then tangled him in a congressional showdown he seemed destined to lose. Then an offhand remark from Secretary of State John Kerry led to the current diplomatic opening and apparent Capitol Hill reprieve.
If it seems that unscripted messages are the most potent elements driving Syria policy, the president’s prepared speech Tuesday night did not alter that impression. Mr. Obama’s remarks won few converts, if any. Fortunately for him, he no longer needed to give a bravura speech. In fact, it could be argued that he no longer needed to give a speech at all.
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