Here’s exactly why the Bradley Manning decision was so idiotic. A government accused constantly of being an “Empire” will have its hands tied in terms of responding to this.
This is an attack at the level of the Halabja attack in Iraq. This is the proper subject of any reasonable “red line”. The perpetrator of Halabja has been deposed, but the perpetrator of this attack remains at large. And thanks to the hysteria that is sure to accompany the news about Bradley Manning, no one will even have the nerve to openly say “Why won’t we do something about this?”
Not even me. Obama leading the West into battle at this point is more a contradiction-in-terms than anything else. With the stain of the Manning verdict, Obama can’t even be said to be leading one of the countries of the West, never mind helping to lead the West itself. In order to lead, people have to be convinced to follow. Right now, no one is convinced. For this reason, helping the Syrians would now mean America imploding on itself – every day, both the extreme Left and the extreme Right would use the opportunity supplied by an intervention in Syria to smack Obama down rather than help Syrians. It’s no longer even a question of what America will or won’t do. It’s a question of whether _this_ America _can_ do anything.
I can’t even begin to apologise enough to the Syrian people for Americans being this deluded and foolish. There are really only two options left – hope against hope that enough people can escape Syria, or count on the rest of the world’s countries to defend the rights of the Syrian people now that it is clear Americans _can_ no longer do so.
Unfortunately, probably the first of these options is the only practicable one. The other would require the assistance of a truly united United States. After the draconian punishment of Bradley Manning, that is not something I expect to see for a long, long time – if ever again.