Could there be a less appropriate advocate for U.S. intervention in Syria than Bill Keller, Judith Miller’s editor at The New York Times during the runup to the disastrous war in Iraq?
Has this man ever been right about anything? Remember when he told us the baby boomers were responsible for the fiscal crisis and we should give up our hopes of a dignified old age because our selfishness has caused the U.S. to have “a less-skilled work force, lower rates of job creation, and an infrastructure unfit for a 21st-century economy”? Because obviously the costs of the Iraq war had nothing to do with the country’s current economic troubles.
Today Keller had the unmitigated gall to lecture us about the need to get involved in Syria. He isn’t really sure what we should do, but he’s positive we need to do it and he has a list of reasons why getting into another war in the Middle East is the right thing to do.
Of course even the monumentally “entitled” Bill Keller understands that lots of people are going to read his op-ed and respond by either screaming bloody murder or laughing hysterically at the spectacle of one of the architects of the Iraq War having the nerve to pontificate about another obviously insane foreign adventure.
So he tries to convince us that this time it’s different: “Syria is not Iraq,” he says.
Of course, there are important lessons to be drawn from our sad experience in Iraq: Be clear about America’s national interest. Be skeptical of the intelligence. Be careful whom you trust. Consider the limits of military power. Never go into a crisis, especially one in the Middle East, expecting a cakewalk.
But in Syria, I fear prudence has become fatalism, and our caution has been the father of missed opportunities, diminished credibility and enlarged tragedy.
“Be careful whom you trust,” he warns. Then why would we trust the man who allowed a once-great newspaper to be given over to neo-conservative enablers like Judith Miller and Michael Gordon who lapped up and printed every lie the Bush White House fed them?
But Keller brushes our doubts aside and offers four reasons why Syria is different from Iraq. But some of his arguments sound awfully familiar to me.
First, we have a genuine, imperiled national interest, not just a fabricated one. A failed Syria creates another haven for terrorists, a danger to neighbors who are all American allies, and the threat of metastasizing Sunni-Shiite sectarian war across a volatile and vital region. “We cannot tolerate a Somalia next door to Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey,” said Vali Nasr, who since leaving the Obama foreign-policy team in 2011 has become one of its most incisive critics. Nor, he adds, can we afford to let the Iranians, the North Koreans and the Chinese conclude from our attitude that we are turning inward, becoming, as the title of Nasr’s new book puts it, “The Dispensable Nation.”
Weren’t we trying to keep Iraq from being a “haven for terrorists” too? And weren’t the neo-cons afraid of having the U.S. be perceived as weak?
Second, in Iraq our invasion unleashed a sectarian war. In Syria, it is already well under way.
This one is just ridiculous. We should invade because things are already worse than when we invaded Iraq?
Third, we have options that do not include putting American troops on the ground, a step nobody favors. None of the options are risk-free. Arming some subset of the rebels does not necessarily buy us influence. The much-touted no-fly zone would put American pilots in range of Syrian air defenses. Sending missiles to destroy Assad’s air force and Scud emplacements, which would provide some protection for civilians and operating room for the rebels, carries a danger of mission creep. But, as Joseph Holliday, a Syria analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, points out, what gets lost in these calculations is the potentially dire cost of doing nothing. That includes the danger that if we stay away now, we will get drawn in later (and bigger), when, for example, a desperate Assad drops Sarin on a Damascus suburb, or when Jordan collapses under the weight of Syrian refugees.
Huh? This one starts out sounding like an argument for staying out of Syria, so Keller throws in one of the neo-con arguments for invading Iraq–things could get worse if we don’t go in. Remember the warnings about “smoking guns” becoming “mushroom clouds?”
Fourth, in Iraq we had to cajole and bamboozle the world into joining our cause. This time we have allies waiting for us to step up and lead. Israel, out of its own interest, seems to have given up waiting.
What kind of argument is that? We should get into a war just because our “allies” want us to “lead?” Meaning they want us to provide the money and manpower.
Sorry, I’m just not convinced. Let the other guys do it for a change. If Israel wants to go to war in Syria, let them. In fact, let Bill Keller go if he’s so gung ho. Maybe he can convince some of his superrich pals to go along with him.
And what do you know? Along with Keller, Judy Miller’s old partner Michael Gordon, who still has his job at the Times, and has been writing story after story pushing U.S. involvement in Syria–as has op-ed columnist Thomas Friedman (I can’t provide links right now because I don’t seem to be able to circumvent the paywall). But here’s Greg Mitchell at The Nation:
Hail, hail, the gang’s nearly all here. Michael Gordon, Thomas Friedman, now Bill Keller. Paging Judy Miller! The New York Times in recent days on its front page and at top of its site has been promoting the meme of Syria regime as chemical weapons abuser, thereby pushing Obama to jump over his “red line” and bomb or otherwise attack there. Tom Friedman weighed in Sunday by calling for an international force to occupy the entire country (surely they would only need to stay one Friedman Unit, or six months).
Now, after this weekend’s Israeli warplane assaults, the threat grows even more dire.
And Bill Keller, the self-derided “reluctant hawk” on invading Iraq in 2003, returns with a column today stating right in its headline, “Syria Is Not Iraq,” and urging Obama and all of us to finally “get over Iraq.” He boasts that he has.
The Times in its news pages, via Sanger, Gordon and Jodi Rudoren, has been highlighting claims of Syria’s use of chem agents for quite some time, highlighted by last week’s top story swallowing nearly whole the latest Israeli claims.
Please go read the rest. Michell makes much more coherent arguments than I can. I’m still just sputtering from rage and trying to keep from banging my head on my keyboard.
There’s a lot going on in the middle east as tensions mount between Syria and Israel. The situation continues to unravel.
Israeli jets devastated Syrian targets near Damascus on Sunday in a heavy overnight air raid that Western and Israeli officials called a new strike on Iranian missiles bound for Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
As Syria’s two-year-old civil war veered into the potentially atomic arena of Iran’s confrontation with Israel and the West over its nuclear program, people were woken in the Syrian capital by explosions that shook the ground like an earthquake and sent pillars of flame high into the night sky.
“Night turned into day,” one man told Reuters from his home at Hameh, near one of the targets, the Jamraya military base.
Former Arizona Congress Woman Gabby Giffords won a profile in courage award in Boston. Her new role is an outspoken and effective symbol for more gun safety laws.
“It takes real courage to overcome a disability that is so personal,” says Guy McKhann, a leading neurologist at Johns Hopkins University.
Although he hasn’t treated her, he says it was clear that, distinct from cognitive abilities, retrieving the right words is difficult for Giffords. “What she wants to say sometimes doesn’t come out,” McKhann says. (A personal disclaimer: I am chairman of the Profile in Courage Committee that honored her Sunday and have a son with a brain injury.)
On Jan. 8, the two-year anniversary of the shooting, Giffords and Kelly started Americans for Responsible Solutions. They’ve already raised more than $10 million, enlisted more than 300,000 supporters, aired national television ads advocating expanded background checks for gun purchases and campaigned for the measure in a dozen states.
They are perfect for this role. She is a courageous survivor of a gun attack, a former Western member of Congress, a longtime hunter and supporter of gun rights. He is a combat veteran, Navy pilot and space shuttle commander. The National Rifle Association can’t paint them as effete foes of the Second Amendment.
In January, Giffords delivered emotional testimony on the measure to the Senate Judiciary Committee. She and Kelly personally lobbied members. Before last month’s Senate vote on the proposal, she sought out Arizona Republican Jeff Flake, a friend from her House days, and blurted out, “Need,” as in we need you. Unlike his Arizona colleague John McCain, who backed the background checks compromise, Flake voted no. The measure failed; since then, polls show a drop in Flake’s home-state popularity.
If you have young children around, this should scare you. You should also check the list at the link in the article to see if any of this crap is in your home.
Over 5000 children’s products contain toxic chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption and reproductive problems, including the toxic metals, cadmium, mercury and antimony, as well as phthalates and solvents. A new report by the Washington Toxics Coalition and Safer States reveals the results of manufacturer reporting to the Washington State Department of Ecology.
Makers of kids’ products reported using 41 of the 66 chemicals identified by WA Ecology as a concern for children’s health. Major manufacturers who reported using the chemicals in their products include Walmart, Gap, Gymboree, Hallmark, H & M and others. They use these chemicals in an array of kids’ products, including clothing, footwear, toys, games, jewelry, accessories, baby products, furniture, bedding, arts and crafts supplies and personal care products. Besides exposing kids in the products themselves, some of these chemicals, for example toxic flame retardants, build up in the environment and in the food we eat.
Examples of product categories reported to contain toxic chemicals include:
- Hallmark party hats containing cancer-causing arsenic
- Graco car seats containing the toxic flame retardant TBBPA (tetrabromobisphenol A)
- Claire’s cosmetics containing cancer-causing formaldehyde
- Walmart dolls containing hormone-disrupting bisphenol A
Kinda terrible isn’t it?
The basic idea behind Keynesian support for stimulus/opposition to austerity under current conditions is that when private demand is weak and monetary policy is up against the zero lower bound, there is no offset to changes in government spending. This shouldn’t be a hard concept to grasp — in particular, you would think that anyone posing as an economist could grasp the conditional nature of the statement.
Meanwhile, the proof is in the results. Look at the record highs in the Eurozone unemployment numbers.
European unemployment has hit a new record and Moody’s cut Slovenia’s debt rating to junk status as German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended her crisis strategy, pushing for twin goals of fiscal rigour and growth.
Grim new data showed on Tuesday that European unemployment set a fresh record in March with more than 19 million jobless people — including one out of four under-25-year-olds.
The Eurostat data agency reported an extra 62,000 people joining unemployment queues in just four weeks in the eurozone as the jobless rate climbed for the 23rd consecutive month — hitting 12.1 percent in March.
The frightening new figures — which showed almost two in three under-25s in Greece and Spain unemployed — come amid vocal criticism over the effects on jobs of the cost-cutting measures pushed by austerity advocates.
Anger against austerity is rising across Europe as hard economic data fails to show a turn-around.
Greece saw joblessness climb relentlessly to 27.2 percent in January, the latest available figures, from 26.3 percent in December.
Meanwhile Portugal, with unemployment at 17.5 percent in March, was seeking to agree new austerity measures after its Constitutional Court rejected as discriminatory cuts to civil servant salaries and pensions decided in response to demands by EU-IMF lenders.
In Cyprus, which saw a huge month-to-month rise in unemployment to 14.2 percent against 10.7 percent the previous month, the parliament was to debate the terms of a tough 10-billion-euro EU-IMF bailout.
The EU’s employment and social affairs commissioner Laszlo Andor warned that “EU institutions and governments, business and social partners at all levels need to do all they can to avoid a ‘lost generation’”
There is absolutely no reason for us to relive the Great Depression years and the complete political upheaval that resulted. I just do not get the obsession with debt. This is especially true because there is so little evidence for it and what evidence was provided was shown to be falsified, error-riddled, and just plain wrong by these kinds of numbers.
I wanted to end with a story that should be on every one’s radar but probably isn’t. Homelessness has been an increasing problem in this country for some time. So has the lack of treatment for the mentally ill. It’s been a Reagan pogrome that we can’t seem to rid ourselves of. Here’s the connection between the two.
Most homeless shelters in the US only take in people who are deemed mentally stable. Most don’t offer anything beyond basic shelter.
Housing programs that also provide psychological services are in the minority, homeless advocates told me. The harsh reality is that most homeless people living in the US who also suffer from serious illnesses like bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia and a host of other mental health disorders, are typically turned away from shelters on a nightly basis.
It’s a disturbing statistic when you discover, as I did, that more than 50 percent of the people living on the streets in the US are mentally ill. Of that number, I was told, less than half are receiving any mental health treatment.
For years, Candace Wood was one of them. I met with Wood in the dining room of Knoxville’s Volunteer Ministry Center (VMC).
For years the mission has dedicated itself to ending homelessness by providing not just housing, but the mental health services that ensures its residents don’t just get off the street, but also have the ability to stay off the street.
Wood told me that before she was connected with the VMC, she was, “wandering around aimlessly.”
“But, I was sick. I was sick because I didn’t take the medicine,” she said.
Wood said she is bi-polar. Since she was previously not on medication and was unable to manage her symptoms. She used to break into buildings to stay warm, hoping it would also get her arrested. Wood said that in jail she knew she’d get the meals and medication she needed.
Ginny Weatherstone is a passionate advocate for Knoxville’s homeless, she’s also the CEO of Volunteer Ministry Center. She says Wood’s story is a common one among the homeless who are also mentally ill.
“Three ‘hots’ and a cot. You get that in jail. For them, jail is their mental health hospital. Jail is their housing,” Weatherstone told me.
I’ve always felt that the Reagan and Bush years were all about punishing the poor, the ill, the elderly, the weak, the young, and the feeble. Statistics show that the wealthy have been doing fabulously since these three presidents reigned. It really is such a horrible statement on our countries’ priorities. How can so many folks be so rich and not give a damn about any one else.
The Rich Have Gained $5.6 Trillion in the ‘Recovery,’ While the Rest of Us Have Lost $669 Billion
It’s no accident.Oh, are we getting ripped off. And now we’ve got the data to prove it. From 2009 to 2011, the richest 8 million families (the top 7%) on average saw their wealth rise from $1.7 million to $2.5 million each. Meanwhile the rest of us – the bottom 93% (that’s 111 million families) — suffered on average a decline of $6,000 each.
Do the math and you’ll discover that the top 7% gained a whopping $5.6 trillion in net worth (assets minus liabilities) while the rest of lost $669 billion. Their wealth went up by 28% while ours went down by 4 percent.
It’s as if the entire economic recovery is going into the pockets of the rich. And that’s no accident.
A series of massive explosions illuminated the dark sky over Damascus early Sunday, igniting renewed claims that Israel has launched attacks into the war-torn country.
Syria’s government said the explosions were the second Israeli airstrike in three days. The latest target, officials said, was a military research facility outside the Syrian capital. A top Syrian official told CNN in an exclusive interview that the attack was a “declaration of war” by Israel.
Syrian authorities vowed to retaliate against Israel but did not specify what action they would take.
Following evidence of chemical warfare and an increasinly reticent US position, Israel has in recent days taken widely reported steps to neutralise threats emanating from within civil war-torn Syria.
While strikes from Lebanese airspace this weekend are not thought to have been on chemical weapons caches, the recent Israeli intelligence regarding the use of such weaponry is thought to have spurred on a round of strikes, including the latest just hours ago.
The Syrian state news agency SANA, citing initial reports, said early Sunday that Israeli missiles struck a military research center near the capital Damascus.
Syrian state television has reported that a major strike on an ammunition depot in Qassiyoun mountain shook Damascus, while Hezbollah’s Al-Manar station claimed the explosion may have been a downed Israeli jet.
Rumours are surfacing online that following the latest volley of attacks on the Syrian regime, President Bashar al-Assad will soon officially declare war on Israel, with speculators pointing to 5am local time for official confirmation. This information continues to persist despite the technical state of war that currently exists between the two states.
Many however, have been quick to dismiss these reports as strictly rumour, with various commentators claiming that such a move would be sure to end Assad’s reign of terror in Syria “within a week”.
The news of an Israeli intervention in Syria has caught the Obama administration on the back foot, with the US president refusing to comment at length about the strike. Obama said, “The Israelis, justifiably, have to guard against the transfer of advanced weaponry to terrorist organizations like Hezbollah.”
Israeli warplanes struck areas in and around the Syrian capital Sunday, setting off a series of explosions as they targeted a shipment of highly accurate, Iranian-made guided missiles believed to be bound for Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, officials and activists said.
The attack, the second in three days and the third this year, signaled a sharp escalation of Israel’s involvement in Syria’s bloody civil war. Syrian state media reported that Israeli missiles struck a military and scientific research center near Damascus and caused casualties.
Syria’s government called the attacks against against its territory a “flagrant violation of international law” that has made the Middle East “more dangerous” and warned it has the right “to defend its people by all available means.”
The generally muted response, read out by the information minister after an emergency government meeting, appeared to signal that Damascus did not want the situation to escalate.
Instead, it tried to use the strikes to taint the rebels, claiming the attacks were evidence of an alliance between Israel and Islamic extremist groups trying to overthrow President Bashar Assad.
The air raids pose a dilemma for a regime already battling a relentless rebellion at home. Failure to respond could make it look weak and open the door to more strikes. But any military retaliation against Israel would risk dragging the Jewish state and its powerful army into a broader conflict.
The tempo of the new strikes added a dangerous dynamic to the conflict, fueling concerns that events could spin out of control and spark a regional crisis.
Israel’s military on Sunday deployed two batteries of its Iron Dome rocket defense system to the north of the country. It described the move as part of “ongoing situational assessments.”
This is sure to bring a group of countries with touch-and-go-relationships into an unpleasant situation Isn’t it a bitch when your proxies just don’t act reasonably?
The United States believes Israel has conducted an airstrike into Syria, two U.S. officials tell CNN.
U.S. and Western intelligence agencies are reviewing classified data showing Israel most likely conducted a strike in the Thursday-Friday time frame, according to both officials. This is the same time frame that the U.S. collected additional data showing Israel was flying a high number of warplanes over Lebanon.
One official said the United States had limited information so far and could not yet confirm those are the specific warplanes that conducted a strike. Based on initial indications, the U.S. does not believe Israeli warplanes entered Syrian airspace to conduct the strikes.
Both officials said there is no reason to believe Israel struck at a chemical weapons storage facilities. The Israelis have long said they would strike at any targets that prove to be the transfer of any kinds of weapons to Hezbollah or other terrorist groups, as well as at any effort to smuggle Syrian weapons into Lebanon that could threaten Israel.
The Lebanese army website listed 16 flights by Israeli warplanes penetrating Lebanon’s airspace from Thursday evening through Friday afternoon local time.
Chris Hayes is still on MSNBC reporting the latest. Israel has acknowledged striking inside Syria. I don’t know why Rachel Maddow hasn’t come on with him.
Please add anything you’re hearing in the comments.
Evidence has emerged that the Assad Regime in Syria has crossed Obama’s red line and that Sarin Gas has been used. Is this a game changer?
The U.S. intelligence community has uncovered strong evidence that chemical weapons have been used in Syria. Several blood samples, taken from multiple people, have tested positive for the nerve agent sarin, an American intelligence source tells Danger Room. President Obama has long said that the use of such a weapon by the Assad regime would cross a “red line.” So now the question becomes: What will the White House do in response?
In March, the Assad regime was accused of using chemical weapons during an attack on the city of Aleppo. The blood samples were taken by Syrian opposition groups from alleged victims of that strike. But American analysts can’t be entirely sure where the blood came from or when the precisely exposure took place.
“This is more than one organization representing that they have more than one sample from more than one attack,” the source tells Danger Room. “But we can’t confirm anything because no is really sure what’s going on in country.”
What’s clear is that the samples are authentic, and that the weapons were almost certainly employed by the Assad regime, which began mixing up quantities of sarin’s chemical precursors months ago for an potential attack, as Danger Room first reported.
“It would be very, very difficult for the opposition to fake this. Not only would they need the wherewithal to steal it or brew it up themselves. Then they’d need volunteers who would notionally agree to a possibly lethal exposure,” the source adds.
SOD Chuck Hagel held a presser and the war of words between the administration and its critics has begun.
With intelligence showing that chemical weapons have probably been used in Syria, the pressure from the political right for decisive action by the president will only intensify.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who has long advocated a no-fly zone to stem the bloodshed in Syria that has left more than 70,000 dead, groused to reporters after being notified by the White House of the intelligence that sarin, a lethal nerve agent, has probably been deployed.
“Everything that the non-interventionists said that would happen in Syria if we intervened has happened,” McCain said. “The jihadists are on the ascendancy, there is chemical weapons being used, the massacres continue, the Russians continue to be assisting Bashar Assad, and the Iranians are all in. It requires the United States’ help and assistance.”
The shadow of the war in Iraq looms large for Obama. Without uttering the “I” word, the White House was quick on Thursday to recall the later-debunked intelligence that showed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction — the central underpinning of George W. Bush’s rationalization for going to war.
An Iraq-styled boots-on-ground intervention, of course, is not under serious consideration.
But Obama aides make clear that the intelligence community’s physiological evidence that indicates Syria’s use of chemical weapons is a bar too low to merit military action, such as implementing a no-fly zone.
“Given the stakes involved, and what we have learned from our own recent experience, intelligence assessments alone are not sufficient — only credible and corroborated facts that provide us with some degree of certainty will guide our decision-making, and strengthen our leadership of the international community,” Miguel Rodriguez, Obama’s liaison to Congress, wrote in a letter to lawmakers on Thursday.
The Obama administration is still pushing for a United Nations-led investigation into allegations and aides to the president on Thursday renewed the call for Assad to give the UN more direct access into Syria—something the Syrian president has thus far resisted.
Concerns about the way forward are also coming from Democrats. Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Thursday it was “clear that red lines have been crossed and action must be taken to prevent larger scale use.” But Feinstein also offered concerns about a doomsday scenario emerging as a result of the administration’s decision verifying its suspicion.
“I am very concerned that with this public acknowledgement, President Assad may calculate he has nothing more to lose and the likelihood he will further escalate this conflict therefore increases,” Feinstein said in a statement.
Pundits are also weighing in. This is from The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg.
If you recall, President Barack Obama drew a “red line” for you: no use of chemical weapons in your brutal attempt to put down the uprising against your regime. Any use of such weapons (even any “moving around” of such weapons) would “change my calculus,” Obama said, “change my equation.” In other words, welcome to the day in which the calculus might just be changing.
Hagel, speaking to reporters in Abu Dhabi, said that U.S. intelligence has come to believe — like the Israelis, the French and the British before them — that President Bashar al- Assad’s regime seems to have used sarin “on a small scale.”
I spoke with Representative Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who said that he thinks the Obama administration is hesitant to face the truth that the Assad regime has already used these sorts of weapons. “Clearly the administration doesn’t want to see this,” he said. “We have lost the confidence of the Arab League and the Syrian opposition because of our inaction.” Rogers said he was convinced at least a month ago that Syria had used a small quantity of chemical weapons against civilians.
Before we get to the meaning and potential consequences of this horrifying news, a brief primer on sarin, which was invented in Nazi-era Germany for use as a pesticide, and which was most famously used in the Tokyo subway attack by the Aum Shinrikyo cult in 1995 and against Kurdish Iraqis during Saddam Hussein’s genocide campaign.’
Descriptions of the chemical’s assault on the body follows the section that I highlighted from the Goldberg piece. Another point of view is expressed in the CSM here.
The US reluctance to join with three key allies – Britain, France, and now Israel – in concluding that Syria’s Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons in his country’s civil war confirms President Obama’s consistent wariness about US intervention in the two-year-old conflict.
Beyond that point, however, former officials and analysts are split over why Mr. Obama is so cautious about the issue – he even refused to answer a reporter’s question on the topic Tuesday – and what the apparently high bar the administration has set for evidence of chemical weapons use means.
“It’s a hard call as to whether the administration is trying to avoid something, or if they just don’t have the evidence,” says Wayne White, a former State Department official with experience in Middle East intelligence.
Obama has said repeatedly since last August that Syria’s use of chemical weapons is a US “red line” and would be a “game changer” for the US. But now some critics say the president’s caution suggests a moving or “fuzzy” red line.
For some, the president is simply being prudent, especially if the evidence presented so far is “inconclusive,” as a number of senior administration officials, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, have said. Obama, they add, wants to avoid a rush to judgment that turns out to be mistaken – and which could appear to the world like a repeat of the 2003 US decision to invade Iraq over weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday that the US is being “extremely deliberate” in investigating and evaluating the reports of chemical weapons use. And on Wednesday in Cairo, Secretary Hagel suggested the US would not be rushed to judgment by allies, saying, “Suspicions are one thing. Evidence is another.” He then added, “I think we have to be very careful here before we make any conclusions.”
But for others, the reason Obama is setting the bar high – in a situation where incontrovertible evidence could remain very difficult to come by – is because he has no desire to ratchet up US involvement in the Syrian conflict unless forced to.
The danger of this approach, critics say, is that it encourages an increasingly desperate President Assad to test the limits of US reluctance – perhaps even with limited, hard-to-prove use of some chemical weapons.
It seems like these hard choices keep popping up. There is total carnage in Syria on one hand. There is a war-weary US on the other. We’ve seen this president draw lines in the sand before. My best example is when Obama swore he would not extend the Bush tax cuts for those incomes about $250k. He signed the law that extended them above $450k. This history makes it difficult to say exactly what kind of hope the Syrians will have for regime change.