If you read my previous post on The Case for Intervention in Syria, you have the commonly-ignored information necessary to understand the Syrian situation. What follows are the three reasons that it’s in our national interest to intervene in Syria, and the way forward in that country

Deter Chemical Warfare Use

Deterring chem use is both of long and short term national interest for the US. The world has never seen a nuclear weapon used in anger since Nagasaki. Besides the fear that one mushroom cloud would beget many others the international community has made first use of nuclear weapons unacceptable. It’s part of the reason we haven’t seen India, Pakistan or Israel use one.

For much of the time after WWII, US policy stated that the use of chemical weapons on our troops could be answered by tactical nuclear weapons. It caused the Russians and Saddam to pause. The times we saw chemical weapons used were when there wasn’t strong international outcry against it, e.g. Iraq vs. Iran, and Saddam against the Kurds, which only became common knowledge sometime after the attack.

There is undoubtedly utility in spanking a dictator if he uses chem against his people. To not do so invites more of it, or worse, the acceptance of chemical weapons as a weapon of war. Down the road one can see US forces “slimed” (military slang for being attacked by chem) and a nuclear response being considered too severe because of the previous use of chem. I think it’s in our interest to keep chemical weapons use up there with nukes.

Reinforce American Credibility

The congruence of US official statements and action are fundamental to US credibility. The strength of US credibility has both a long and short term national interest.

The President, whoever he is, speaks for America whether one likes him/her or not. For at least the next three years, his words and actions ARE America’s credibility. The ugly truth is that the administration wrote a check that it didn’t want to cash, which explains our late response (this isn’t the first time Assad has used Chem) and our clumsy “stop and go” current approach.

Iran, AQ & Syria are watching with interest on how we respond to the use of chem, and if our words mean anything. This isn’t just the US vs. Syria. All of our enemies and most of our friends are watching.

Assad’s 11 year-old kid characterized our pause as a victory, on  the same day that the Syrian press (an Assad mouthpiece) highlighted how Obama’s “leadership” looks like retreat.