President Barack Obama's willingness to refrain from an immediate attack on Syria based on its recent alleged use of chemical weapons shows a lot of things.
It shows (sort of) the the U.S. is not trigger-happy. It shows that the American public is war-weary and skeptical after the no-win wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It shows that American influence is draining from the Middle East and elsewhere. And there are a lot of other things it shows ...
Among them: That it is OK to prosecute a civil war that has already created two million refugees and untold suffering ... as long as there are no chemical weapons in play. War is OK, but there are limits, dontcha know.
Chemical weapons are heinous, but war is not heinous.
The U.S. is in a damned-if-you-do-and-damned-if-you-don't position. Attack and risk what would almost certainly be a wider war, one consuming not just Syria, but also its neighbors ... and, courtesy of George W. Bush, Americans at home and abroad. Fail to act and risk an uptick in the number of radicalized combatants who might rightfully see the U.S. as long on talk and short on action ... a fork-tongued Judas if ever there was one, from their point of view.
And here it is the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, the date on which the World Trade Center towers were demolished ... an act that is now so routinely ('terrorist") linked to the American war in Afghanistan that suggesting a more careful investigation is considered conspiracy-theory claptrap ... despite the physical and other scientific evidence.
As the Anglican theologian and writer Charles Williams once wrote, "People believe what they want to believe."