Yet the Obama administration has failed to take the kind of steps that might yield an outcome favorable to U.S. interests (or those of the Syrian people). The U.S. has imposed sanctions on the top leadership, but these are wrist slaps and have been completely ineffective.
The contrast with Libya is instructive. Though Qaddafi was a vicious tyrant, he has long since ceased to be a threat to the U.S. Following the Iraq War, he voluntarily relinquished his weapons of mass destruction program and was relatively quiescent on the world stage. Yet when he threatened his own people, Obama proved willing to spend billions in a "war of choice" to help remove him. Something about a "duty to protect." Yet that duty did not apply to Syria or Iran.
Just weeks after discovering that Iran was plotting a massive terror attack in Washington, D.C., Obama not only failed to respond, but handed the Iranians a huge gift in the form of the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
Now Obama is embarking on another humanitarian military intervention -- sending 100 U.S. soldiers to track down and destroy the Lord's Resistance Army in central Africa. There is no doubt that the LRA is a particularly nasty piece of work -- an armed militia that engages in kidnapping, rape, murder and torture. It's heartbreaking, but alas, not by any means unique around the globe. What is the rationale for American intervention? Obama explained to Congress that, "I believe that deploying these U.S. armed forces furthers U.S. national security interests and foreign policy." Keeping a stabilizing force in Iraq apparently is not.
The Obama doctrine for intervention would appear then to be: Intervene only where American interests are in no way implicated. But in situations such as those in Iran and Syria, where intervention of some kind would serve American strategic interests as well as humanitarian concerns, hold back.