The use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war is, says the secretary of state, "unacceptable." Back when their use was one of those contingencies for which we are supposed to have plans, the president warned that the use of such weapons represented a "red line," for the United States.
The unacceptable is fast becoming routine and the red line, according to Stephanie Nebehay of Reuters, seems clearly to have been crossed.
United Nations human rights investigators said on Tuesday they had "reasonable grounds" to believe that limited amounts of chemical weapons had been used in Syria and warned that the shattered country was in "free-fall".
So, now that we are on the other side of that red line, what next?
Nothing much, it seems, but as Richard Cohen writes:
there will be consequences ... The United States has impeccably conducted itself as a blowhard. The president demanded that Assad resign; he warned direly of red lines. But who believes it? Once again Barack Obama is doing his Prince of Denmark number. We have squandered our leadership — actual and moral — and done nothing to save lives. We might have contained a war that is spreading daily. We could at least have tried. It’s been a shameful performance.