Should we consider Islamic radicals to be our enemy? What if Islamic radicals are fighting each other. Should we intervene on one side if the other is using really awful weapons? Why are awful weapons bad? Should we intervene in every war in the world if awful weapons are used? What are the interests of the United States? Should foreign policy decisions even be based on American interests - isn't that selfish?
These are all moral questions that force our leaders to identify and define that which America values and then to explain the degree to which some specific foreign military force threatens these values. The practical question of whether our military can prevail is necessary but secondary to the identification of our allies and enemies.
As I have claimed for years on this blog, Obama is essentially a philosophical pragmatist. He eschews moral absolutes in favor of "action." He consistently rails against allowing "ideology" to stand in the way of "action" and urges compromise based on consensus. So if he doesn't believe in moral absolutes, how does he choose what to do? He must simply absorb the default values of modern intellectual "experts" which in today's culture are collectivism and sacrifice.
The nature of his acceptance of these "values" renders his views obvious and unassailable to him. Why? Anyone who dissents, must have firm or absolute moral convictions. In his mind, there is no valid argument for firm convictions, so the dissenter must be dismissed as a kook, a "dogmatist," or an "extremist."
So why did Obama latch on to Syria? Doesn't the fact that he seeks to attack Syria demonstrate that he does have some moral compass guiding his actions? No, it shows the opposite and proves my point.
Syria is engaged in a civil war between a theocratic dictator and a motley assortment of Islamic militants and tribal factions. Both sides are America's enemy! The fact of one side using awful weapons or barbaric tactics is obscene and tragic but does not affect America or our allies. The fact that Obama has latched onto the supposed use of chemical weapons by one side demonstrates his lack of moral conviction and consequent inability to ascertain what to do. He sees chemical weapons, which are awful, and as a pragmatist simply wants to "act" to stop them regardless of the context and regardless of the potential future implications or unintended consequences of his actions.