But the upside here—Assad possibly turning to slightly less unconscionable methods of terrifying his citizens in a possibly prolonged war—seems small when compared with the risk of U.S. intervention causing more death than it spares, as it has done before, or sparking a wider conflict with Iran or Russia, perhaps risking cataclysm even as a petulant neophyte sits in the White House tweeting whatever comes to mind. How can hawks who saw the mess that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Don Rumsfeld made of Iraq entrust a harder war to an even less experienced president—one who put Jared Kushner in charge of achieving peace in the Middle East?
Yet just that course appears to be under consideration, its unlawfulness be damned. “The Trump administration has considered new military action against the Syrian government in response to reports of ongoing chemical weapons use, officials said, raising the prospect of a second U.S. strike on President Bashar al-Assad in less than a year,” The Washington Post reports. “Trump requested options for punishing the Assad government after reported chlorine gas attacks—at least seven this year—and possibly other chemicals affecting civilians in opposition-controlled areas.”