Mark Steyn writes in The National Review, An Accidental War:
I see the Obama “reset” is going so swimmingly that the president is now threatening to go to war against a dictator who gassed his own people. Don’t worry, this isn’t anything like the dictator who gassed his own people that the discredited warmonger Bush spent 2002 and early 2003 staggering ever more punchily around the country inveighing against. The 2003 dictator who gassed his own people was the leader of the Baath Party of Iraq. The 2013 dictator who gassed his own people is the leader of the Baath Party of Syria. Whole other ball of wax. The administration’s ingenious plan is to lose this war in far less time than we usually take. In the unimprovable formulation of an unnamed official speaking to the Los Angeles Times, the White House is carefully calibrating a military action “just muscular enough not to get mocked.”
What is the difference between the rationale to attack Syria and the one to attack Iraq? In Iraq we at least had the illusion that the suspected WMDs presented a material threat to our national interests but the gassing of its citizens was one of twenty rationales to attack. And of course Congress in a strong bipartisan way approved the attack.
The critical question is whether we attack a sovereign nation which is engaged in a civil war for attacking its own citizens even if there is no US national interest at stake. There was no civil war raging in Iraq.
The bigger question is what is the end game of our action. If we are to engage in a limited bombing with no purposeful outcome then we will only further diminish our standing, by proving yet again that we do not have the stomach to engage in the sacrifice required for a victory. In this case victory is not even being defined or considered.