James, there ought to be a much greater emphasis on getting China involved in how to resolve the various conflicts in the area. It is China that is increasingly depending on oil while the US increasingly has its own supply from shale. So how is it that China is providing cover for a murderous little regime which has no oil and very few friends? Because China is seeing this as a way to trap the US in an area away from its own backyard and China hasn’t yet fully realized that its own interests are increasingly with stability in the Middle East. China cannot think that it can rise to globalism as a great power if that means supporting a regime that kills as many of its own citizens as necessary to survive. Various foreign ministers ought to go to Beijing and use these chemical attacks in particular but the brutal nature in general as a lever to push China into a more constructive camp. It ought to hurt China that it supports Assad.
If the end result of this gassing is no military intervention but a Russia isolated in the UNSC, a lot will have been gained.
And, considering the response below this post you’d think global opinion would prefer parties in the Syrian conflict can go all out and deploy chemical weapons, perhaps biological ones too, instead of having the US send a token signal. It isn’t so much that the cure is worse than the disease but that most commenters seem to have no faith in US intentions. Given that this sentiment is increasingly widespread the US would do well to take it further into account.