"This time it's different," say liberal hawks itching to lob missiles (and, eventually, you've gotta assume, troops) at Syria.
Yeah, not so much. But don't let that stop you, Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times:
I strongly opposed the Iraq war and the Afghan "surge." But in conjunction with diplomacy, military force can save lives….
Are we making too much of chemical weapons? Probably less than 1 percent of those killed in Syria have died of nerve gas attacks. In Syria, a principal weapon of mass destruction has been the AK—47.
Yet there is value in bolstering international norms against egregious behavior like genocide or the use of chemical weapons.
Kristof grants that Obama's invocations of "red lines" and general inaction has failed, so it's time for "a tougher approach" and the president "can't just whimper and back down." Good luck with all that.
And with the approach to missile attacks bandied about by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who told the LA Times:
Obama needs "to find the right target set that will be punitive and that will have a strong deterrent impact on Assad's potential future use of chemical weapons," said Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), who sits on the House Intelligence Committee. "But at the same time it should not go so far beyond the instrumentalities of chemical weapons use that it appears we're trying to topple the regime."
Yeah, really good luck with that.
But then, maybe we don't have to do anything with regard to the "red line" of chemical weapons being used in Syria. As George Will points out in a must-read column, the State Department claims that the U.S. retaliated when the Assad regime supposedly used chemical weapons "a few months ago." But the State Department spokesperson, Jen Psaki, just doesn't want to say what we did:
We did take action. We did – we're not going to outline the inventory of what we did. That remains the same as it was a couple of months ago. But the President acted. We crossed a redline. It did change the calculus, and we took action, and we have the opportunity, or the option, to do more if he chooses to do more.
As Will notes in his piece,
The administration now would do well to do something that the head of it has an irresistible urge not to do: Stop talking.
If a fourth military intervention is coming, it will not be to decisively alter events, which we cannot do, in a nation vital to U.S. interests, which Syria is not. Rather, its purpose will be to rescue Obama from his words.
It goes without saying: Good luck with that.