With much of the world’s attention fixed on the drama playing out in the streets of Egypt, the civil war in Syria that has claimed as many as 100,000 lives grinds on in the shadows. But new allegations of massive use of chemical weapons by the regime of Bashar al-Assad have once more brought Syria into focus and raised anew the question of what more, if anything, should be done to stop what is going on there.
The US, France and the UK have called upon the UN Security Council to undertake an urgent investigation of this latest evidence of the possible use of chemical weapons that may have caused the deaths of hundreds. Meanwhile, Barack Obama’s administration is in a grave predicament, much of its own making. The US president has, on several occasions, declared that Syrian use of chemical weapons would cross a “red line”, constituting a “game changer” that would alter his calculus of what his country was prepared to do.