US Secretary of State John Kerry set out in considerable detail on Friday the evidence for why the United States believes Syrian government forces were responsible for this month’s horrific chemical-weapon attacks on rebel-held portions of the Damascus suburbs. But he gave less detail about the reasons for the military response that by all accounts seems imminent. President Obama did not elaborate in remarks delivered a short time later.
The gist of Kerry’s rationale for military action is that Syria seems to have breached an important and long-established international norm against the use of chemical weapons. These weapons indeed are despicable, as made vivid by the ghastly videos and photos of their dead and dying victims. Stopping any further use is a laudable aim. And drawing the line on chemical weapons will help to deter the use of other weapons of mass destruction.
But it is unclear how the US government plans to proceed beyond the military action that both Obama and Kerry have said would be limited. Kerry talked about holding President Bashar al-Assad “accountable”—a term more appropriate for the International Criminal Court (which the United States studiously avoids mentioning in the Syrian context) than military action. Others have talked about punishing Assad—a dubious goal given his demonstrated willingness to accept all manner of cruelty toward his people and the rapid destruction of his state.
Mayor Bloomberg discussing his intent to appeal a federal judge’s ruling striking down NY’s stop-and-frisk policy.
You encourage racial profiling. You sure you want to talk about what’s fair??