Syrian Decision Time

In one sense, the government is operating as it is supposed to in its response to the Syrian atrocity. The National Security Council will offer up to the President a number of practical ways to respond to the Syrian use of chemical weapons. These will be well considered by the foreign policy professionals. President Trump, for his part, has fulfilled his role by announcing a change of policy based on his gut response that chemical weapons require a response even if just a few days before he had said that Assad’s regime is not his concern. That changed sense may or may not reflect what the American people think and they will form their own judgment, partly on the basis of how successful are the military efforts that are likely to be made. Will the loss of American pilots lead the American people to think a military option was bound to be a failure? Will the Russians dumping Assad lead the American people to think a military policy was a success? These are the moments when a President wins or loses, his own judgment and reputation and style of governing in the dock.

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