One of the most frustrating things about President Obama’s push for action in Syria is that his entire plan is logically flawed. Even if we assume everything Obama says about Syria is true, what he is planning will not achieve his stated goal.
Obama claims he wants to do a limited strike to show the world it is not acceptable to violate “international norms” regarding the use of chemical weapons — yet a limited strike can’t do that.
Assad and his generals are in a fight for survival. If they lose, they will likely be killed, along with their families, in horrific ways.
Any similar group in the future will probably choose to use whatever last resort they have if their backs are against the wall. If the choice is likely death or using chemical weapons, many would choose chemical weapons. The possibility that using chemical weapons might cause Americans to drop a few bombs weeks later will not change this basic calculation. It is better to live for now and face the “limited strike” when it comes.
If you really want to make the use of chemical weapons anywhere unthinkable, you need an overwhelming response. You need to completely and totally destroy the people who used them. You need to make using chemical weapons a guarantee that Americans will destroy you. That is the only way to make using chemical weapons unthinkable, even as a last resort. That way it will always be better to face the long odds using only conventional weapons instead of inviting guaranteed destruction by the United States.
The only thing worse than an unnecessary war is one that doesn’t even have a real plan.