Yes, it’s true that in 2013 Obama stumbled into drawing a “red line” on Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons. And then, when it seemed to be crossed, he took an opportunity to back away from the line, accepting a Russian offer to take chemical weapons from Assad. But Republicans are responsible for drawing him back from that red line. Obama demanded a vote on action in Syria, properly, given that war powers are supposed to rest with the representatives of the people. Republicans balked.
Obama made the case for war with Syria. He gave a primetime speech about his red line. He pitched an interventionist policy to the G20 summit in Russia. He sent his Cabinet out, including Secretary of State John Kerry, and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, to testify before Congress, along with his chairman of the Joint Chiefs. The GOP came out against it. Even some of the most hawkish among them. Although for most of 2013, Marco Rubio had criticized Obama, saying that the “time for passive engagement has come to an end,” he bowed to public opinion — even among conservatives — and voted against authorizing strikes.
“I have never supported the use of U.S. military force in the conflict. And I still don’t,” Rubio explained, quite inaccurately. Rubio was not alone. Many GOP senators and congressmen who took free shots at Obama for not engaging in Syria during the summer of 2013, suddenly, when asked to support such an action themselves, folded entirely…
Republicans are so obsessed with blaming Obama for being cowardly and feckless in the Middle East, they cannot see that instead he has been reckless and too full of bravado. They castigate him for not halting a refugee crisis by means of war actions that surely would have exacerbated that refugee crisis. And it was a war they passed on when it was offered to them.