One more demonstration why the “red line” is a lie:

If, let’s say, North Korea used sarin on domestic dissenters, would we respond militarily? Of course we wouldn’t, and they know we wouldn’t. We would be too concerned about North Korea’s ability to fire back into South Korea. Every US-unfriendly nation has considered the possibility of US military intervention. If they can, they’ve already found ways to make US intervention unpalatable. “Punishing” Assad doesn’t change that.

What Can We Do About Syria? Reader Suggestions

David Megginson September 08, 2013 17:03

I agree.  

It might be necessary to use force in this conflict, but if that happens, the use of force should be initiated by the UN for the purpose of protecting civilian lives, not for backing one side against the other, punishing people, changing regimes, or sending “signals” to the world.  That kind of intervention will involve putting actual UN blue berets (and boots) on the ground to separate the warring sides, just like they did in Cyprus and Bosnia, and if only for international credibility, we’ll need Russia and Iran to be part of that effort rather than isolating and vilifying them.  

An intervention like that could also last years, so we’ll have to be honest about what we’re getting into.  There’s no intervention-lite option here — anything else, like remote-control so-called “surgical strikes”, is just cowardly bullshit and posturing.  Either do it right, which will be a long, painful, and expensive process, or stay home and at least avoid making things worse.

Michael K Johnson September 08, 2013 17:17

Well, there are other uses of force that I could also see being appropriate given what we have seen so far. For example, even if there were UN stonewalling (don’t know, since AFAIK this hasn’t been tried), if the US unilaterally established refugee camps in Syria and declared no-fly zones over and near the camps and major routes to the camps, I would find it much harder to argue against. I don’t know that it’s a good idea, and I’m not proposing it, but if someone I trust proposed something like it I would listen.

I know Linus Pauling got somewhat crazy (maybe he took those two Nobel prizes too seriously?) but his quote about good ideas has some merit here, where a paucity of options is publicly manifest.

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