This is no longer simply about Syria. The United States has stated a condition that commits it to an intervention. If it does not act when there is a clear violation of the condition, Obama increases the chance of war with other countries like North Korea and Iran. One of the tools the United States can use to shape the behavior of countries like these without going to war is stating conditions that will cause intervention, allowing the other side to avoid crossing the line. If these countries come to believe that the United States is actually bluffing, then the possibility of miscalculation soars.
That’s the danger of bluffing in anything — you better be 100% certain you aren’t called, or willing to take the risk you are. I think it is clear this was a bluff on Obama’s part. Right or wrong Obama has now been called. There is very little choice for the United States now — because either hard line statements from our President no longer carry weight, or we go to war (of some scale). Both options, for lack of a better word, suck.
The attacks could prove deadlier than the chemicals did. And finally, attacking means al Assad loses all incentive to hold back on using chemical weapons. If he is paying the price of using them, he may as well use them. The gloves will come off on both sides as al Assad seeks to use his chemical weapons before they are destroyed.
I don’t see this ending well for anyone at this point.