A brilliant analysis of the Syria crisis from the New York Times' David Sanger. There are some many excellent points in this piece, but here are a few:
When President Obama made the "bright red line" statement, didn't it occur to him Assad might actually cross it?
Death by chemical weapons is horrific, but what about the 100,000 deaths that preceded the chemical weapons attack? is manner of murder really more significant than the body count?
What does President Obama expect "a shot across the bow" to accomplish? If Assad scoffs at a few cruise missiles and goes on about his business, then what does America do?
Here's an issue Sanger doesn't explore; Mr. Obama has now dragged Congress into this box with him and it's what they've been asking for. Obama apparently was stunned by British Parliament rejection of involvement in Syria and without a normally reliable partner, the UN or Congress he simply felt too isolated to proceed. Under the "be careful what you wish for" warning, Congress is now in its own box. If it approves a poorly constructed attack that accomplishes nothing, it takes co-ownership of that failure. If it rejects Syrian involvement and another chemical attack, or attacks, occur, President Obama will say the blood is on their hands. What Congress actually asked for, and has been granted, is the right to hold the hot potato. Some Members are applauding the President's decision to go to Congress, including Senator Ron Johnson.
Others see it as a sign of weakness, the Obama want to drag Congress into the mess he created. Whatever his motive, he has done just that. And senators and representatives who have criticized the action as ill-conceived will now have to weigh in on it.