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Are Americans ready to deal with Syria's chemical weapons?

On Monday, Obama strongly warned Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad not to use chemical weapons as rebels advance on Damascus. What is the national interest in threatening US action? Obama must sort out the moral purpose.

Smoke rises over Aleppo, Syria, after heavy fighting Dec. 1 between Free Syrian Army fighters and government forces.


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If President Obama were to deploy military force in Syria – right into the heart of the Middle East – would it be on moral grounds or in America’s self-interest?

The rationale for any US intervention in Syria may be important for Americans to know sooner rather than later. Intense fighting has erupted around Damascus. President Bashar al-Assad appears dangerously cornered. On Monday, Mr. Obama seemed to tip his hand more strongly on the moral versus self-interest question. He warned Mr. Assad that “there will be consequences and you will be held accountable” if the Syrian Army uses its stockpile of chemical weapons.

The weapons pose little or no threat to the American homeland. Yet Obama’s moral stance on Syria’s weapons of mass destruction – similar to his tough warnings to Iran about building a nuclear bomb – has pushed him to promise a response in Syria that is only lightly veiled as one involving force. That contrasts with no threat of US force to end Assad’s killing of tens of thousands of civilians.


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