Ok I can understand that Russia has the Veto power but still there is not even a word of condemnation on use of White Phosphorus by Russia on the innocent civilians in Aleppo. (Worthy note that White Phosphorus has been in use by Russian airforce in Syria since last year)

What was the "Red-Line" drawn by Obama and when it will be breached?

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is about motivations not the politics. Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 18:39
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    White phosphorus is NOT a banned weapon and is commonly used as an illuminant or offensive weapon by advanced militaries and therefore your line of argumentation is non-sensical. Furthermore what do you expect to happen? Us to intervene against russia and nuclear fire to bathe the world? Who wins there? Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 13:57
  • 1) Lack of substantial evidence? 2) Red-line is drawn by the Obama administration for the Syrian government's chemical weapon use, not for Russia 3) What is Obama really gonna do after the Red line is crossed? Declare war against Russia? Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 23:22
  • @easymoden00b who is winning in Russia+Iran+Assad's assault on defence-less Civilians? Russia and Iran have a long habit of picking hard targets for hollow slogans and preying on softest of the opponents Commented Aug 27, 2016 at 6:11
  • @TalhaIrfan you could say the same thing about anyone involved in this entire conflict. Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 12:53

2 Answers 2


The United States can hardly call out Russia for using White Phosphorus against enemy combatants hiding among civilian targets when they did the same in Iraq and very likely also in Afghanistan. When one condemns the use of WP by Russia, one also has to condemn its use by the US (and Israel too, by the way). That's not in the political interest of any state right now.

The "red line" Obama talked about in the link posted in the question is a statement made 2012 about the Assad regime and that the US would intervene when Assad uses chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war. Now that the Russian military is directly aiding Assad the situation has changed. When the US now sends troops on behalf of one or more of the Syrian rebel groups, it might pit US soldiers and Russian soldiers into direct combat against each other. That would bring the world closer to a third world war than ever even throughout the cold war.

Also, the statement was specifically about chemical weapons, and the current stance of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is that white phosphorus is not a chemical weapon but an incendiary weapon, illumination agent and/or smoke agent. That stance is debatable, but as explained above, the US can hardly dare to debate this topic as they are guilty of it as well.

  • Thanks for answer. I can understand US and Israel being silent as they done it themselves but why even the countries like Canada, Australia, India, Pakistan, etc. As the title says, it's whole world whose lips are sealed there Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 14:56
  • @TalhaIrfan As I said, when they cry out about Russia they also need to cry out about the US. And none of the states you mentioned have anything to gain but much to lose by alienating both the US and Russia.
    – Philipp
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 15:28
  • World has got really heartless.. RIP Humanity! Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 15:31
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    @TalhaIrfan It hasn't "got" heartless, it always worked that way.
    – Philipp
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 15:34

TL;DR: Why not White Phosphorus? — Because it appears to be easier to convince the world community by condemning Assad regime's use of other chemical weapons — namely, chlorine, sarin, and mustard gas.

This gives the U.S. and allies (¹) some diplomatic freedom, effectively helping their argument to justify the need of overthrow the Assad's regime, which, in turn, is the final goal for the U.S. in the region.

(¹) if I correctly understand the term of "World" in the question

As other users noted, the U.S. established a "red line" at the use of chemical weapons (CW) in general. No specific chemical substances were named.

Indeed, if the U.S. argument were Assad regime's use of White Phosphorus (WP), Assad/Russia lobby would receive a powerful counter-argument, raising a long-running debate:

  • about whether the U.S. and allies have also used it in their operations;
  • or whether or not WP should be considered a banned CW;
  • or whether WP was only used to illuminate the battlefield (which is arguably a legal use).

Yesterday's (24-Aug-2016) statement by NSC Spokesperson Ned Price on the UN-OPCW Report on Syria sums it up very well (markup is mine):

It is now impossible to deny that the Syrian regime has repeatedly used industrial chlorine as a weapon against its own people in violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and UN Security Council Resolution 2118. We condemn in the strongest possible terms the Asad regime's use of chlorine against its own people.

The United States will work with our international partners to seek accountability through appropriate diplomatic mechanisms, including through the United Nations Security Council and the OPCW.


  • The final goal for U.S. in Syria is overthrowing the Bashar al-Assad regime.
  • However, "I don't think we should remove another dictator with force."President Obama
  • The remaining way to accomplish the goal is by diplomatic path — Ned Price;
  • Which requires solid, convincing arguments;
  • The use of chlorine appears to be such an argument.

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