Syria is just one battlefield in a civil war
The dithering of world leaders feeds those who want to believe the West has lost its mojo, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards
It's a good time to be a ruthless dictator. Keep China and/or Russia onside and you can be sure of a handy veto from the UN Security Council against military intervention. Neither regime gives a damn about human rights in their own countries, let alone yours.
In pursuit of the national interest, China props up North Korea, which it knows is a concentration camp run by a psychotic dynasty, and Russia backs anyone at loggerheads with the US. European leaders deplore your treatment of your people, yet insist that no action should be taken except, yes, through the Security Council. The government of the United Kingdom can be troublesome, but it's no more than a junior ally of the US.
You used to fear that if you tried the patience of the US too far you might meet the same end as Saddam and Gaddafi, but Obama is not Bush. He's happy to drop unmanned drones on faraway places, and he sent Navy Seals after Osama bin Laden, but he has no appetite for big operations. He's pulling out of inherited wars and mostly hates abroad and the dilemmas posed by nasty foreigners.