1. My wife is in the late stages of pregnancy with our second child, so blogging is going to be light-to-nonexistent for a while.
2. I have some On The Square thoughts about how some kinds of respect for Obama’s words and the concerns of some Obama supporters could be used to defeat Obama’s policy preferences.
3. Riffing on a point that Ben Domenech made on twitter, the humanitarian case for intervention in Syria would be more convincing if we were talking about a bigger intervention. Right now we are talking about a limited airstrike in retaliation for the use of weapons that have killed a very small fraction of the war dead. Humanitarian military intervention would mean using force to bring the civil war to an end. The same goes for some of the strategic arguments used by the Obama administration. It really would be a good thing to eliminate the Assad regime’s chemical weapons stockpiles, and make sure that a post-Assad Syria does not have ungoverned areas that become Hezbollah and Al Qaeda statelets. The problem is that the most obvious way to accomplish these goals is to invade Syria and conduct counter-insurgency and state building operations. Events can shift the range of what is politically possible, but right now, a president who proposed such a policy would more likely be committed to a mental institution than gain authorization from Congress.
So President Obama is proposing a limited missile strike in order to send the message to foreign governments that if they deploy chemical weapons against their own people, the US might eventually launch an attack that wil leave the targeted regime intact.