The United States is likely to take military action in Syria and as best as I can tell the only real justification for this move is for President Obama to save face.
At one point Obama called the use of chemical weapons a “red line.” Now that there is potentially proof the Assad regime used chemical weapons Obama feels compelled to do something. Because Obama didn’t actually think through what he said in the past we will likely have another unnecessary conflict in the Middle East on our hands.
Obama is already trying to pretend this possible military action is about more than him personally saving face, but any other argument doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Obama called stopping the use of chemical weapons a “core national interest” in order to make “sure that weapons of mass destruction are not proliferating.” While I find the use of these weapons deplorable there is no real reason Assad killing Syrians with chemical weapons is more of a national concern them him killing them with traditional explosives. The entire conflict remains a civil war. Nothing that happens in a civil war in a small country on the other side of the world is a core national interest to the United States.
The only way this incident might cause proliferating of chemical weapons is if it proves Obama’s future “red lines” are meaningless, but again it all ultimately comes back to face saving.
The biggest proof that this is all about protecting Obama’s image is that the proposed military actions seem to have no real objective beside “sending a message.” It sounds like we are not planning to destroy or cripple the Assad regime, which is at least be a real goal. We are just going to blow some stuff up to prove we are willing to blow some stuff up, since Obama once implied we would do something.
The American people are going to see military action they strongly oppose because Obama doesn’t want to look weak.
Photo by callme_SOO released under Creative Commons License