Charles Krauthammer: The fruits of epic incompetence
Strange. And it gets stranger still. That "strike Syria, maybe" speech begins with a heart-rending account of children consigned to a terrible death by a monster dropping poison gas. It proceeds to explain why such behavior must be punished. It culminates with the argument that the proper response - the most effective way to uphold fundamental norms, indeed human decency - is a flea bite: something "limited," "targeted" or, as so memorably described by Secretary of State John Kerry, "unbelievably small."
He cares about power and he cares about keeping Bashar al-Assad in power. Assad is the key link in the anti-Western Shiite crescent stretching from Tehran through Damascus and Beirut to the Mediterranean - on which sits Tartus, Russia's only military base outside the former Soviet Union. This axis frontally challenges the pro-American Sunni Arab Middle East (Jordan, Yemen, the Gulf Arabs, even the North African states), already terrified at the imminent emergence of a nuclear Iran.
As for the peace process, it has about zero chance of disarming Damascus. We've spent nine years disarming an infinitely smaller arsenal in Libya - in conditions of peace - and we're still finding undeclared stockpiles.
Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for The Washington Post.
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