This week the United Kingdom, with the support of the U.S. and France, scrambled — in vain — to get the approval of the United Nations Security Council for a military strike on Syria.
I can certainly understand why some see this as a legal or political necessity. International law says that nations should seek approval of the Security Council before attacking other nations. That means if the United States attacks Syria without U.N. approval, President Obama will open himself to the charge from the left of being even more of an international war criminal than George W. Bush, who at least could plausibly claim U.N. Security Council support for the Iraq war.
But if you think such accusations are nonsense — as I do — then what’s left is the political case. This argument holds that we must placate a poltergeist called “world opinion.” But this will-o’-the-wisp is as fickle as it is elusive. Obama has been chasing it in the Middle East for years, and he’s less popular there than Bush was in 2008. In Europe, where Obama remains popular on the German and Belgian streets, it’s hard to point to an area where popularity has yielded concessions to Obama’s agenda.