In his handling of Syria, President Barack Obama demonstrated to other nations that he is willing to use force in situations important to him.
His perceived will to use force came from his handling of Osama bin Laden. He carefully limited his goals strategically and tactically to the removal of bin Laden. He wisely didn’t engage Pakistan, which had been harboring bin Laden. The United States would have otherwise further expanded the Afghan war to include Pakistan.
It was Obama’s use of military force that brought Russia and Syria to the bargaining table. Russia historically has had an inferiority complex vis-a-vis the West. President Vladimir Putin’s actions regarding Syria are to increase his own and Russia’s standing in world affairs.
Obama operated in great secrecy in the bin Laden operation. But Obama has otherwise kept communications open with Putin and has left the door open to his perspectives. To his credit, Obama recently began communications with Iran.
It is not in U.S. interests to use force to remove Syria’s chemical weapons. It doesn’t have to, thanks to President Obama’s perceived will to use force.