ready, aim, umm…

this is mandatory reading, hands down the best summary of the very, very narrow catwalk you walk, whether you support or oppose doing something in Syria.

I still don’t know how I feel for sure, but as the afternoon rolled on Friday, Secretary of State Kerry spoke and the administration laid out some of its brief against the Assad regime, and the whole thing felt like it was firming up, like there really is a case here.

Of course it could all be smoke and mirrors – the last week has been filled with replays from the roll up to the Iraq war, and anyone who thinks acting in Syria is the right course of action should feel very queasy right about now (I do). And there is no end game for the action the Obama administration is contemplating: we fire the rockets, and then what?

Still, my internal vote right now is 51/49 in favor of acting. We will never know everything we need to know about the chemical attack of August 21; we can’t know how a U.S. attack will change things, though it’s a fair bet the outcome will not favor us; we do carry large moral baggage connected to ignoring chemical weapons in the past, backing dictators, extra-legal drone strikes, etc.

Against that is the simple fact that chemical weapons were used on this planet in the last 10 days, 1,400 people were killed, and the case against Assad is strong enough.

Secretary Kerry said he knows the nation is weary of war, but that weariness, in this case, cannot be an excuse not to act. He’s right. We could, and maybe should, wait for the U.N. inspectors to officially tell us chemical weapons were used, but we already know the inspectors will not tell us which side used them, which is the key thing, and for which we have some independent evidence. And we know that even if the inspectors said “Yes, Assad did this,” Russia and China would stop the U.N. Security Council from acting. Is there really a point to letting all that play out, especially since it appears fresh chemical weapons attacks are happening in Syria?

(Here’s the case against missiles to Syria. It’s daunting, to put it mildly.)


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