Andrew Coyne, arguing in support of an intervention in Syria:
Much mockery has been made of U.S. President Barack Obama's "red line," as if it were mere macho posturing. Very well: do his critics have a line?
Well, sure. If we're going to start drawing red lines why wait 'til we get all the way to chemical weapons? How about drawing a red line at sending unmanned drones to fire missiles into countries where no declaration of war has been made and without regard to "collateral damage"? In fact, concern over civilian casualties is so low that additional attacks are routinely mounted on the funeral services held for the victims of the initial attacks. And let's not forget that the same government ordering these missile attacks also has no qualms about ordering the extrajudicial assassination of its own citizens.
Of course if we draw the line there we'd have to intervene in the United States 'cos that's why they call Obama "President Kill List."
This is very much like the debate over the Iraq invasion: people pick a convenient spot to draw that red line in order to justify what they want to do anyway. Anyone on the wrong side of the line becomes the new "Worst! Monster! Ever!". In this case, as Alison points out, the interventionists conveniently ignore the evidence that the Syrian rebels, on whose behalf we would intervene, have themselves already deployed chemical weapons.
PS: And having said all that, there is still good reason to question the claim that it was Assad who crossed this particular red line.