Barack Obama is both right and wrong. He is right in saying that “the credible threat of US military action” pushed Syria to give up its chemical weapons. He is wrong in believing that a “limited military strike” would have made the Syrian situation better. If indeed the US president had ordered a bombing of Syria, it would have made him and some Americans feel good. But it would have done no good. The people of Syria would not be better off. It would only have made a messy situation messier. This is obvious.
It is good that Mr Obama has decided to pursue the diplomatic path. Yet the bad news here is that America has over time lost its skills in diplomacy. If anyone doubts this, just look at Washington’s failure to even persuade its fellow Group of 20 countries to join its statement on Syria.