That the things I have been worrying about since the President drew his bold red line have been echoed by Laughing Wolf over on Black Five. It is sobering to know someone else has been comparing the sitting President with the fictional Robert 'Bob' Fowler from Clancy's Sum of All Fears and finding the real President wanting in comparison.
Or the alliances in the region are mobilizing in much the same way they did in 1914 in Sarajevo. One madman kills a noble that almost no one knew about and the gears of war started to turn as all the years of treaties came into effect as Austria tried to browbeat Serbia into giving up the assassin. So the Serbs called in their Russian allies while Austria called in Germany. And it just escalated from there. What resulted from all of that smart diplomacy was four years of brutal carnage that killed millions and set the stage for a greater conflict.
An even more brutal question to ask will there be a US lead alliance in regards to the murky issue of who gassed whom in Syria? The British Parliament just said no to Prime Minister Cameron's request for supporting the Americans, the first time they have said no since 1782 and the American Revolution. The French and Germans are going soft as well; they should when it concerns American consistency, they just have to look at the series of slights and insults this Administration has delivered to England along with betraying European missile defense for a nebulous promise from Russia. A Russia that supplies Europe with a majority of the natural gas it will need to stay warm this winter. A Russia that supports the Assad regime in Damascus. Europe sees more downsides than upsides for joining the American charge.
Then there are the Middle Eastern nations to look at. Iran likes Assad in power and has threatened Israel if the US attacks. Saudi Arabia finds itself wanting Assad in power in order to keep the Muslim Brotherhood out of power. Saudi Arabia is also supporting the current government in Egypt for the same reason - fear of the Muslim Brotherhood. And the United States, because of the decisions of this Administration, finds itself in opposition to Saudi Arabia, a long time ally, and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood both in Egypt and Syria. Turkey has refused to assist the United States in regards to Syria so Greece had to be asked to allow the US to use Greek air bases.
If this is not a powder keg with a fuse lit, then I do not know what is. And for what reason is the US getting involved when there are no geo-political reasons that can protect American interests? Because of one reported attack on civilians by someone using chemical weapons. No one knows if it really was Assad's forces that did it or even the rebels themselves that did it by accident. This is far worse in murkiness than when USS Turner Joy thought it was being attacked by North Vietnamese torpedo boats. But we have a President who said this was a Red Line even though in the past when Saddam used nerve agents on Kurds or Assad's father obliterated a town with artillery to stop a Muslim Brotherhood insurgency no one protested so loudly that these heinous attacks were used as reasons to depose either tyrant.
As Laughing Wolf said, we are going to be held hostage to the least stable actor in this drama. Isn't that a cheery thought. So if you are a devout praying person, please pray harder.
Addendum on the parallels from 1914.
There is the diplomatic war that was fought in concert with the war effort. England wanted the neutral powerhouse the United States to enter the war on their side. Wilson became President in no small part because he promised to keep the country neutral to the conflict that was devouring Europe so people with similar feelings voted for him.
Churchill as First Sea Lord engaged in stratagems that are a bit shabby and dishonest viewed from this end of history; from painting British ships in American colors to putting war materials aboard passenger liners, but what he wanted was England to emerge victorious. Meanwhile the Royal Navy was hunting German U-boats where they could. All these actions forced Germany to abandon the cruiser rules and turn to unrestricted warfare on the open seas against any ship they found.
So the German U-boats became wolves prowling for kills. Any kills. It was scant comfort to the families of the dead from these attacks that Germany had followed the rules of war by announcing a zone around England where unrestricted warfare would be prosecuted. The Huns in the U-boats were now butchers. The same was not used to describe German commerce raiders but those ships did not skulk below and strike from hiding, instead they still operated under the cruiser rules and treated their captured as well as could be expected.
Another arrow in the cap that helped tilt American opinion in favor of England was a master stroke of counter-espionage by British spooks. I am referring to the famous Zimmerman telegram where Germany's Foreign Minister tried to entice Mexico into attacking the United States. That really incensed the American public when it became news and further destroyed any warm feelings that sections of the populace felt towards Germany.
The sinking of the RMS Lusitania was just the final act that brought the US into WWI on the British side. While the US tried to stay out of the war, events conspired against the President that stripped him of any freedom of action. And that is how the United States entered World War I on the side of the Serbian assassin since England was an ally of the Russians who were the ally of the Serbs who sheltered the assassin.