raised the point of basically the
was set more of this abstract-feeling thing maybe a year ago, and now the administration's being confronted with it to believe "the new york times" today maybe they didn't think they were going to be.
that's right. i would add a note of caution. these are sketchy allegations, reports. there are tests that indicate a likelihood of low-level usage of
. there are
chain of custody
command and control
and how decision-making is being made within the syrian military. so i think we're not perhaps at a point where we can draw far-reaching conclusions. and of course, there are the los of other
that have been crossed.
, crimes against humanity, usage of
is a very important international norm, and it needs to be protected. but i don't think we should see this an isolation as the linchpin that should shift u.s. policy and u.s. strategy.
although we should say so more recently now when you have the senior -- the suspicions now that
have been used, the president sort of clarified, maybe even moved the goalposts a little bit, i think this was a week or two ago where he said now it's the systematic -- the systematic use of
on civilian populations. so he's sort of qualifying it. and the feeling i'm getting listening to this is basically this is a guy who does not want to be intervening and is looking not to be drawn into it at almost any cost.
but it's worse because he said we don't know weather and we don't know where. does it matter when and where they were used if they've been used? they've been used. and then the last one, by who? the regime -- delivering
is not something that you can just, like, you're sprinkling sort of frosting on a cake. it's a complicated, delicate process. it requires very high certain type of technology, and only the regime has it. to even ask the question of who used it --
this is where it gets interesting. i think and very complicated because you're right, at a certain level, we can document all sorts of horrible things, all sorts of atrocities that have played out over the two years.
look at just a few days ago.
but i think the question becomes, when we start saying the natural
is to do something, but there can also -- i think there's a compel compelling that doing something could make it worse.
it's hard to seeing how doing lessor the same. the trajectory of the conflict on so many different levels is getting so bad. if the dead pools continue at this rate, we'll reach the 100,000 mark in syria. that's roughly the number killed in bosnia in 2 1/2 years of fighting. that's also the second anniversary in august of
has to step aside, right? so to continue what we're doing now, it's important to know what was used, right? it's important to go up that chain. but then we have to look at, well, what is the investigative structure here? it's the
. the investigation to come and look at the site is being blocked by the
regime. even the scope of that investigation can only investigate one site. after they go to that one site, they're not allowed to assess who used the weapons. how is that going to help us solve this problem? so i think the
needs to look at how else can they go about trying to solve this problem, find out what happened and keep
from moving up the escalation chain. i think that's what the
is asking now. how do you not get sucked into a conflict quickly where you're forced to escalate and do something that could make the situation worse and could also hurt the president politically.
we shouldn't get stuck in a false binary influenced by the israeli
, that the choices here are what we're doing now versus direct
, a la no-fly zone. there are options and that's where we need to focus at the moment.
what are some of those options?
first of all, we have to have an investigation into what happened. the
leaked a story to "the new york times" a few months ago saying they leaked. you could hit those bombs. those are loaded guns. they could hit that and lay down that
. there are lots of other things you could do, too. no one is talking about putting troops on the ground in syria. the president has said that. the american public won't top late it. there could be missile strikes, a lot of other options that could enforce this
from moving up the escalation chain.
i've read very compelling arguments saying when you start talking about tactical or focused
, practically speaking, that's very difficult to do. and i think in a lot of the arguments for intervening, people hear -- we mentioned the polls, people hear a lot of echoes of the debate we had ten years ago headed into iraq, and i think that's shaping the conversation here a little bit. i do want to talk about the iraq angle of this after this. [ both ]