Syrian rebels attend a training session in Maaret Ikhwan near Idlib, Syria. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
As hours pass and rhetoric by Obama administration officials, named and unnamed, grows more bellicose against Assad and Syria, liberal hawks in the media, and newspaper editorial pages, have largely fallen in line, calling for a swift US missile attack or more. This was the same pattern we saw in regard to Iraq in 2003, when a Republican was in the White House.
Of course, the two situations are different, and The New York Times has a lengthy and chilling new report tonight trying to recreate the night of the attack. But there is this much that’s the same: liberals are calling for fast action even though proof of a chemical attack, and who did it, remains less than definitive—and with United Nations inspectors on the scene but their work discounted by America. Yet the rush to judgment—and bomb—escalates.
Some liberals in the media have resisted, however. Then there's the issue of the country that still defends killing 100,000 women and children with a new radiation bomb in 1945 lecturing others on what's a "moral obscenity." And two days ago Foreign Policy revealed new evidence of Reagan-era America's "complicity" in Saddam's massive chemical attacks in the war with Iran.
I’ll begin collecting a range of commentary, updates added on Tuesday. Plus consider the irony of this tweet by Laura Rozen on Tuesday: "Strikes won't start til Thursday, am guessing. Among other reasons, because Obama speaking on 50th anniv. of MLK's I have a dream Wed."
• Eugene Robinson joins liberal hawks tonight in calling for strike on Assad at The Washington Post. Admits history argues against it but we have to do it. “Must be punished.” George Packer at The New Yorker at least argues with himself.
• Dexter Filkins joins liberal hawks in calling for attack in new piece at The New Yorker. After recounting a moving talk with journalist/witness to last week’s bombing, he admits our attack now could make things worse (and no rebel leader to trust)—but have got to try something. David Frum at Twitter, on the other hand, outlined several good reasons to resist this impulse.
• The New York Times, in an editorial posted late Monday, asked for a measured response after declaring: “This time the use of chemicals was more brazen and the casualties were much greater, suggesting that Mr. Assad did not take Mr. Obama seriously. Presidents should not make a habit of drawing red lines in public, but if they do, they had best follow through. Many countries (including Iran, which Mr. Obama has often said won’t be permitted to have a nuclear weapon) will be watching.”