If the people keep protesting, and the government keeps shooting, can the White House really afford to stand by?Obama's in desperate need of some serious introspection (and damn little time for it). So much for the man who once promised only smart wars. There's little smarts about war.
I personally do not want to see the US involved in yet another Middle Eastern war. The potential that the conflict would spread into Lebanon and plunge both countries into a long period of chaos and civil war is far too significant for me to start beating the war drums.
But the situation in Syria has turned much more critical since Friday’s demonstrations. Intervention in Syria is likely to involve higher stakes, more bloodshed and greater risks than the intervention in Libya. We need this like we need a hole in the head. But the courage of the Syrian people, the brutality of their government, the wishes of our allies and the logic of our interests may yet force our hands.
For the Obama administration, the prospect of making the painful choice between war in Syria or genocide in Syria cannot be welcome. Whatever it does, the administration will run serious risks and invite bitter criticism; it may also start engaging in some serious introspection. Both in substance and in the way it was handled the Libyan intervention makes a Syrian intervention both harder to pull off and harder to avoid. That is not normally what a successful policy looks like — but in the administration’s defense, these are not normal times.