Instead, Obama insists that we can only act with support of the “international community,” meaning the U.N. Security Council — where Russia and China have a permanent veto. By what logic does the moral legitimacy of U.S. action require the blessing of a thug like Vladimir Putin and the butchers of Tiananmen Square?
Our slavish, mindless self-subordination to “international legitimacy” does nothing but allow Russia to extend a protective umbrella over whichever murderous client it chooses. Obama has all but announced that Russia (or China) has merely to veto international actions — sanctions, military assistance, direct intervention — and the U.S. will back off.
At least be candid
If Obama wants to stay out of Syria, fine. Make the case that it's none of our business. That it's too hard. That we have no security/national interests there.
In my view, the evidence argues against that, but at least a coherent case for hands off could be made. That would be an honest, straightforward policy. Instead, the president proclaims his solemn allegiance to a doctrine of responsibility — even as he stands by and watches Syria burn.
If we are not prepared to intervene, even indirectly by arming and training Syrians who want to liberate themselves, be candid. And then be quiet. Don't pretend the U.N. is doing anything. Don't pretend the U.S. is doing anything. And don't embarrass the nation with an Atrocities Prevention Board. The tragedies of Rwanda, Darfur and now Syria did not result from lack of information or lack of interagency coordination, but from lack of will.