While speaking about Syria, Donald Trump accused Hillary Clinton of being there during Obama’s “line in the sand.” Presumably Donald Trump is talking about Obama’s “red line,” which would be crossed if and when Assad used chemical weapons, but he just made it sort of racist in his head.
TRUMP: First of all, she was there as secretary of state with the so-called line in the sand, which…
CLINTON: No, I wasn’t. I was gone. I hate to interrupt you, but at some point…
TRUMP: OK. But you were in contact — excuse me. You were…
CLINTON: At some point, we need to do some fact-checking here.
TRUMP: You were in total contact with the White House, and perhaps, sadly, Obama probably still listened to you. I don’t think he would be listening to you very much anymore. Obama draws the line in the sand. It was laughed at all over the world what happened.
Obama made the statement in August of 2012, when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation,” Obama said.
The incident that Trump was probably talking about was when Assad was caught using chemical weapons in August of 2013 and the US military did not intervene. At this point John Kerry was Secretary of State.
This isn’t a complete lie, as Donald Trump flubs the quote and doesn’t elaborate on what he means. He isn’t very sure in any case, as he back tracks immediately and says that Clinton was still in contact with the White House, even if she wasn’t there. I read Trump’s quote as referring to the decision to not use force in 2013, as the 2012 threat to use force would not be “laughed at all over the world.”
In any case, while some would describe this as a failure to act, a multilateral coalition has used diplomacy to help Russia remove over 1300 pounds of chemical munitions from Syria. Only scattered uses of chemical weapons have occurred since. If the goal was to keep Assad from using chemical weapons then Obama’s tactic succeeded without putting a single US soldier in harm’s way.