Obama should just give up and admit he got it wrong. A little bit of humility is worth it to avoid a catastrophe in Syria.
It is unclear whether Obama will even ask for Congressional approval. By law he does not have to, despite many requests to do so. But international law does require UN approval for military action against Syria. And whatever Syria has done, the argument that it should be punished for chemical weapons attacks would guarantee that any resulting action was illegal.
Beyond national accountability, the arguments against military action include that it will:
- cause more loss of innocent life as a direct consequence
- not work as a deterrence against using such weapons – or even to stop the conflict
- cause even greater instability and loss of life in the region more widely.
All of which seemed lost on David Cameron who is looking more and more out of his depth. But, to his credit, Cameron has decided to give up on military action against Syria. He agreed to submit to the will of parliament – and demonstrated his accountability. That is far more something to make one feel good, than dropping bombs – even though it seems only bombs could make Lord Ashdown feel good.