Now that it seems that Assad did indeed use chemical weapons, United States Secretary of State Kerry has stated that this is a “moral obscenity” and the Syrian government will be held accountable. And it is true — if you’re not going to take a stand against chemical weapons, you can’t take a stand against anything. But the time for this stance was likely a long time and 100,000 deaths ago. It was possible, if not probable, that the overthrow of Assad then could have been followed by new leaders that were a somewhat known and acceptable quantity. By many accounts, that time has passed….that who might replace Assad would be even worse than Assad.
Either way, it’s well beyond my pay grade and especially the talking heads who are pleased to have such a volatile, controversial issue to fill their shows. Which would be fine, except when you think of 100,000 dead and children being attacked by adults using chemical weapons. Political points dishonor the dead.
I do wonder if President Obama accepted too readily a passive foreign policy, possibly believing that the United States isn’t the indispensable power it once was. It still is. And as imperfect as the country is, its core principles are a light year away from the Assads of the world. If the United States doesn’t step up, the vacuum will surely be filled and likely not in a good way.
Special Postscript: The morning after publishing the story above, I came across this column by Michael Gerson. His words add clarity to what is a most complicated and troubled situation. mc