Today, Secretary of State John Kerry laid out the case against Assad, summarizing the unclassified intelligence assessment that was just then landing in reporters' inboxes: Bashar al-Assad and his minions knew about, prepared for, and carried out a massive attack using a nerve agent on areas outside Damascus that his regime had trouble clearing of the opposition, "to break a stalemate." The
Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry, in a speech at the State Department, said it is “undeniable” that chemical weapons have been used in Syria, and called the attack “a moral obscenity.” This leaves President Obama, who in 2012 called chemical weapons a “red line” that would “change my calculus” when it came to dealing with Bashar Assad, with no clear road forward. When I called some liberal heavyweights to ask what the United States can and should do about Syria’s bloody civil war, some told me we’ve left ourselves no choice but to invade, while others stressed that that’s the worst thing we could do. The majority said reaching accord with Russia, Syria’s powerful ally, is our last hope—but none seemed confident that Kerry will succeed at the bargaining table.
If Bashar al Assad’s use of chemical weapons in a rebel-controlled suburb of Damascus is “undeniable,” as Secretary of State John Kerry declared today, the United States should retaliate forcefully. It should recruit whatever allies it can—France and Great Britain have already volunteered—but it would be nice to have a nation or two that wasn’t once an imperial power in the Middle East.
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