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Opinion
Christopher Flavelle

Kerry's 'Gaffe' Beats Military Strikes

It's unclear whether Secretary of State John Kerry meant it when he said that Syria could avoid a U.S. military strike by giving up its chemical weapons.

It's unclear whether Secretary of State John Kerry meant it when he said that Syria could avoid a U.S. military strike by giving up its chemical weapons. (France has certainly run with the idea.) But if the goal really is to protect the international norm against the use of such weapons, as President Barack Obama has repeatedly argued, then this is the better way to go about it.

That's because when it comes to defending that norm, military strikes are a lousy option. There may be good reasons for launching an attack -- defending American credibility, deterring Iran, venting our moral outrage -- but upholding the consensus against chemical weapons isn't one of them.