The problem with drawing a red line, as any parents knows, is that when it’s crossed you have to either act or lose your credibility. Looks like the Obama Administration is deciding to act:
Few question that there was a major chemical attack in Syria last week, and the United States has made clear that it blames the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
Now, the question is how President Barack Obama will respond.
For almost two years, Obama has avoided direct military involvement in Syria’s civil war, only escalating aid to rebel fighters in June after suspected smaller-scale chemical weapons attacks by Syrian government forces.
However, last week’s attack on a Damascus suburb that reportedly killed and wounded more than 3,000 people obliterated the “red line” Obama set just over a year ago against the use of Syria’s chemical weapons stocks.
The Administration, through John Kerry, has indicated they will act. They’re not going to send in soldiers or establish a no-fly zone, which is wise. Most likely we are looking at a cruise missile strike and air strike on al-Assad’s chemical weapons stockpiles and facilities. This is unlikely to happen right away. China and Russia are backing al-Assad, a coalition needs to be put together and — I know I sound like a nut when I say this — Congress should, you know, approve any act of war. But my gut feeling is that Obama, like most Presidents, will respond to being stymied on domestic matters by acting on international ones.
In principle, I don’t oppose destroying Syria’s chemical weapons. No matter who wins the Syrian civil war, it is possible that those weapons will fall into very bad hands. There’s some talk of attacking Assad’s conventional forces and “sending a message”. Either would be a waste. The opposition to al-Assad is not composed of nobel democratically-minded reformers but includes hard-core Islamists. No matter who wins, we lose. Our only interest is in making sure the chemical weapons aren’t used for nefarious purposes.