The last-ditch effort by Moscow to avert a US strike against Syria – proposing Damascus signs up to the global ban on chemical weapons and puts its chemical stockpile under international controls – has merit and is worth pursuing. It also demonstrates that the threat of using even limited force can have real utility, and that a speedy congressional vote backing President Barack Obama on strikes remains necessary.
When the first reports of the deadly poison gas attack emerged from Damascus three weeks ago, the issue of military action took an important turn. Up to that point, the Obama administration had steadfastly – and rightly – resisted calls to intervene militarily in the increasingly bloody civil war. Not only did the president confront a war-weary public that had absolutely no interest in becoming entangled in another Middle Eastern conflict, but he had also long concluded that doing so would make this his war – and ending the conflict his responsibility. He rightly held back. Continue reading »