Jacob Heilbrunn

Will Obama Invade Syria?

It's starting to look as though the United Nations Security Council will bestir itself to condemn Syria's massacre of its citizens. The Arab League has said little. But according to the Guardian, the UN is taking a closer look at Syria:

"I detected a certain convergence of thinking, concern about the escalating violence," said Indian ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri. "The members of the council all felt that the council should address itself to the situation and pronounce itself if the need be."

It can pronounce away all it wants. But Syria's leadership, which has been on a rampage, is not going to go down quietly. President Obama is now condemning Syria, which marks a U-turn from his earlier policy of playing kissy-face with the tyrant of Damascus. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is also expressing her outrage. But Obama is in a tough spot. He's embroiled in Libya, which doesn't look nearly as bad as Syria. Bashar Assad and his henchmen have authorized the army to fire indiscrimately at civilians. So far, about 1500 have been killed since the uprising began. Over 10,000 have been imprisoned.

The European Union is toughening its sanctions against the regime. But Germany is warning against any military intervention—much as it did in Libya, where it abstained from approving a resolution authorizing the use of force. Germany now sees its interests as closely allied with Russia and China. It also looks disapprovingly at America's debt crisis.

But it will be difficult for Assad to recover. The realists in Jerusalem who counted on a stable Syria may be disappointed and find that the faith they reposed in the country's stability was itself unrealistic. This is a revolt against the stripling, Bashar, who has been installed in power by his father. He never earned his stripes.

With America embroiled in no less than three wars, the notion that it will attack Syria seems far-fetched. But at what point will liberal hawks and neoconservatives demand that Obama train America's guns on Assad as well? Might American fighter jets soon be streaking over Damascus? Will a wave of pro-American feeling sweep over Syria? Stranger things have happened.