The big problem -- not just for Obama, but for America -- is that there simply aren't a whole lot of good options in Syria. So I thought it'd be worthwhile to go through them, in the spirit of Bush's "decider room."
Here we go again. Syria's apparent use of a small amount of chemical weapons against its own people has many Republicans and conservatives calling for President Barack Obama to intervene. Yeah, easy, right? Just like Iraq.
The long-tail effects of chemical weapons continue to plague Iraq today, burdening a decimated health care system, and providing horrifying visual fodder for extremists who would incite hatred against the West.
How could any U.S. administration stand by as an Arab dictator gassed his own people? The fact is they did: President Reagan not only turned his back on such ruthless attacks, though they were substantiated by grisly video evidence, but continued to aid the tyrant who was ordering the savagery.
The U.S. surely, as well as NATO at large, cannot be indifferent to the issue of chemical weapons in Syria, and there is another country whose interest is definitely to prevent the use of chemicals. This is Russia.
Revelations that the Russian Foreign Minister and Hillary Clinton agreed that Washington would refrain from intervening in Syria if Russia secured Bashar Assad's chemical weapons demonstrated how compromise unavoidably attends American efforts to spread humanitarian ideals globally.
If our government wants to draw an arbitrary, rather hypocritical line in the sand at Assad's use of chemical weapons, fine. If we're going to bring the world back to its senses, we have to start somewhere. But I would apply two caveats.
Syria endures as one of the world's greatest cultural crossroads. Its architectural and archeological record lends dignity and pride of place to its citizens. The question today is, can this precious national patrimony survive another year or even a few more months?
For many people around the world, Syria's civil war might not appear to have particular significance for them. Yet the troubles in Syria could quickly escalate, causing very real consequences felt worldwide.