This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.
What does “red line” mean? What does “game changer” mean?
Either Barack Obama or Syria’s Bashar Assad will come to regret those words. In the near future, we’ll find out which.
When the president of the United States issues a warning that dire, he’d best be ready to back up the words with action. Assad’s government appears to have crossed Obama’s portentous line by using chemical weapons against rebels – such is the assessment of Britain, France, Israel and now the U.S. secretaries of Defense and State. What next?
If the evidence of nerve gas attacks is established beyond a reasonable doubt, Obama must come through – somehow – on his unspecified threat.
A U.S. invasion of Syria cannot be an option; the Middle East is enough of a mess already without a herd of American elephants stomping into a conflict few people on this side of the planet understand.
We want to help the good guys win, but it’s hard to figure out exactly who they are. Assad is a brutal tyrant, but some of his enemies are friends of al-Qaida, which makes them enemies of ours.
One of the best reasons to tread cautiously is the possibility that sarin – which is 500 times more toxic than cyanide – might fall into the hands of people who rejoiced at the sight of mangled Americans at the Boston Marathon.
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