I didn’t think the air strikes option was an unacceptably bad one. True, I could see it was only going to be a token effort, even if it came with big messages about statements of principle, red lines, chemical warfare and stuff.
As a case for US intervention Assad’s excessive use of chemical weapons didn’t strike me as anything more than a handy means of dealing with Republican sniping by sliding in late to the fight on a slick of moral outrage.
But an air defence suppression operation to clear the way for strikes on CBW units would also limit Syrian air operations like yesterday’s school bombing and slow, at least a little, the massive arms & men air supply from Russia and Iran to Assad.
And as a participant in the conflict the US will get to be a involved voice in eventual ceasefire talks, ironic as that sounds. It would increase the chances of talks by inserting into the fight, not only the biggest dog, but also the only dog interested in forcing through such an accord.
Such an accord would probably have to leave Assad in place, like Milosevic was after Dayton, to be nailed in a later war. Or not. Leaving Assad in charge suits the needs of a lot of realpolitikittens.
I can’t say it has much chance as a strategy in defence of US interests, let alone those of the poor Syrian citizenry, but it makes a kind of sense at least. Of course it would be illegal, but there’s nothing in international law that can be done legally about Syria in current circumstances other than do nothing.
If the strategy fails, since the application and enforcement of international law in Syria will effectively be prohibited by UN Security Council veto for the foreseeable future, I guess Syria (and probably Lebanon & Iraq by extension) have years of hell to come before, out of sheer exhaustion, Syria gets its own version of the Taif Accord and a peace of sorts brokered, probably by Iran.
But that, as we now know, is not Britain’s problem.