There is good evidence (soil samples, victim images) that Syria’s regime has used chemical weapons (Sarin, and possibly Chlorine gas), according to Britain, France, and Israel.
The Brits call this a war crime. Really? As if aerial bombing of residential neighborhoods, torturing young children, killing over 70,000 people, mostly civilians, and driving out millions as refugees, are not war crimes enough? (I ask again: where is the International Criminal Court? Why not one indictment?)
When President Obama declared that Assad’s using chemical weapons would cross a “red line,” requiring U.S. action, I thought it an empty gesture because once made, using such weapons would be crazy. But maybe Assad knew his man better, and is “crazy like a fox” – using a swodge of chemicals just to show up America as a paper tiger that won’t stop him, thus bolstering his backers’ resolve and demoralizing opponents.
Obama insists on more proof. But as The Economist put it, this “look[s] less like healthy skepticism than an unwillingness to take action” – “unfortunately, all of a piece with Mr. Obama’s lawyerly approach to the whole issue.”
As The Economist further observes, America’s squeamishness “is worsening a dreadful situation,” with the rebels becoming increasingly radicalized as it drags on. Meantime, with the killing unabated in a stalemated war, millions of refugees in dire straits, destabilizing neighbor countries, and sectarian bloodshed spreading, Obama’s “arguing about soil samples hardly seems like an adequate response.”
Experience shows that there is a kind of situation where reluctance to face a need for active involvement merely guarantees worse consequences down the road. We should have learned this from Rwanda, and from Bosnia. Now, alas, we’re being taught it again in Syria. “How many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died?”