I’m a bit confused on why you quoted the international law segment of my post. Let’s assume the Assad regime used chemical weapons. Are you taking the position that this would not be a serious and blatant violation of formal and customary international law?
Your view that “Assad has the authority to do whatever he wants” is simply not grounded in facts. Zecarlo is correct when he ribbed that your position is basically: “Come on, Hitler had the right to kill every Jew in Germany. Who were we to complain about it?” You really have no qualms with the indiscriminate slaughter of non-combatants as long as a government is doing it within the confines of its territory?
Also, you still need to flesh out your callous defense of the use of such weapons in the first place. It’s clear that turning a blind eye toward CW use would have been nothing short of an abdication of the United States position in the world, no matter which prism the event is viewed though. If would have been a policy far out of step with both American values and Realpolitik interests.
I’m not really interested in swatting down conspiracy theories, but your imputation of the expertise, professionalism, and integrity of the men and women of the intelligence community deserves a response.
I don’t think you can make a cogent argument that “The IC was wrong about WMD in Iraq, you can’t trust intelligence on any subsequent issue.” It’s clear from the postmortem of that debacle that the intelligence cycle was fatally compromised by politicization/securitization in the aftermath of the 11 September attacks. The Bush administration had a policy it had already decided upon and cherry picked supporting “intelligence” to fluff its case for war.
Also, there were many reforms in the IC over the following decade largely because of the fallout of both 11 September and the Iraq War. You can be sure as shit the US IC (along with European allies such as France and the UK that provided corroborating intelligence) wasn’t going to provide a high confidence assessment on chemical weapons use unless it had strong evidence.
In addition, it isn’t the role of intelligence to formulate policy. Intelligence reduces the bounds of uncertainty regarding the capabilities and intentions of foreign actors so policy makers can, well, make policy. The IC is apolitical. It collects and analyzes intelligence and conducts covert action in accordance with US policy. It isn’t a political entity beholden to the whims of the party in power.
The signal intelligence intercepts between Syrian brass and the unit responsible for launching the weapons is pretty damning, along with the plethora of additional evidence.
There is indeed a military logic behind Assad’s use of chemical weapons. It fits well within the regime’s enemy centric approach to counter insurgency.