Obama's Syria leadership no profile in courage

The spectacle in Congress yesterday was both edifying and terrifying. Convincing explanations for why America must take the lead in a military strike against Syria provided clear reminders that ours is the one indispensable nation. Unless America stands up to genocidal maniacs, the world will go dark.

At the same time, the reluctance to assume that responsibility is disturbing. It starts with President Obama, whose chronic ambivalence about American leadership emboldens tyrants.

His loss of nerve at the 11th hour was a shameful abdication, and his punting the Syria problem to Congress was a political ploy designed to free him of responsibility. No profile in courage there.

Many members of Congress also seem skeptical, asking, as one put it, “Why us?” Those questions reflect public opinion, which is largely against intervention.


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Secretary of State John Kerry was, once again, forceful in outlining the stakes. As he said in his testimony, giving Bashar al-Assad immunity for using chemical weapons would give opportunity for others to do the same, or worse.

“Iran is hoping you look the other way,” he said. “Hezbollah is hoping isolationism will prevail. North Korea . . . they’re all hoping for silence.”

There could be a silver lining. The momentum for support is based on a stronger strike than the mere “shot across the bow” Obama initially planned. The idea of smashing Syrian airports, planes and helicopters and the military infrastructure would do more than just warn Assad. It could stop the slaughter.

But time is the enemy, too. Assad is moving weaponry to civilian areas, using his own people as human shields. That’s his nature. Hopefully, his days are numbered.