Going To War Over A Gaffe

Walter Mead panics that a “no” vote on Syria will destroy US credibility in one fell swoop:

Foreigners will no longer know when and whether to take anything this President says as representing American policy rather than his own editorial opinions. We hate to say it, but that is so dangerous that there’s a strong argument for Congress to back the Syria resolution simply to avoid trashing the credibility of the only President we’ve got.

Ezra is skeptical:

[N]o one — not Assad, not Iran, not North Korea — has any confusion about what would happen if they deployed chemical weapons against our troops or embassies, or if they handed them to terrorists who used them to attack us. They would be annihilated. And our credibility on this score is overwhelming: After 9/11, we invaded Afghanistan, which had given safe harbor to al Qaeda, and then we also invaded Iraq — just because we were so angry. Pinprick strikes against Assad change nothing about the incentives of using chemical weapons against the United States.

Shibley Telhami likewise denies that a strike will bolster US credibility:

Despite the talk of not being taken seriously, America remains a feared superpower in the Middle East, and Washington’s hand is seen in almost everything big and small. For Arabs in Syria, Egypt, and elsewhere, the problem is not American credibility on the use of force; rather, they have a deep mistrust of U.S. aims.