"America may have lost its stomach for military intervention," Charles Blow wrote recently in the New York Times. At least among Obama supporters, that has become the most common explanation, hardening into cliché, for why the president’s call to punish Assad’s regime for gassing its own citizens met with a curdled mixture of anger and apathy.
This, apparently, is how diplomacy happens these days: Someone makes an off-hand remark at a press conference and triggers an international chain reaction that turns an already chaotic and complex situation completely on its head, and gives everyone a sense that, perhaps, this is the light at the end of the indecision tunnel.
Six key questions before an intervention
The Obama administration now wants Congress to approve a military strike against Syria in retaliation for its use of chemical weapons. Why is the administration so bent on intervention? Isn’t it violating international law? What will be the likely impact of an attack? Will it plunge the United States into another war in the Middle East? Or will it have no effect whatsoever on the carnage? Should the U.S. go further and ensure a rebel victory by crippling Bashar al Assad’s regime?
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.