The reason a missile attack on Syria is proving so unpopular on both sides of the Atlantic has nothing to do with neoimperial hubris. The reason is that it is a bad idea. "Punishing" a dictator for killing his own people by simply killing more of his own people seems beyond cruel. It seems stupid. It leads nowhere.
Public opinion may be a poor guide to the minutiae of state policy. But that opinion has been saddled with two long wars, both failures. As a result, leaders in London and Washington (and possibly Paris) have been sufficiently nervous to pass decision to their national assemblies. In British the result was a rebuff. In Washington, President Obama has decided to refer Syria to Congress and France's president, François Hollande, may do likewise.
In the attacks on Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, the goal of western intervention was at least clear. It was to topple a regime. Since the UN forbids such overt aggression against member states, action must be dressed up as humanitarian or to enforce UN resolutions. But everyone knows what is the intended outcome.
In Syria, an attack would be in retaliation for a proven breach of international law on chemical weapons. No one has the will to topple the Assad regime. Action is described as merely punitive and a "deterrent", directed purely at a past incident of a chemical massacre. This is gesture war. It will not punish the guilty, such as members of the Assad regime, who should be arraigned before a war crimes court. It will merely destroy buildings and kill people. It seems peculiarly pointless.
~ from The West's Threat to Attack Syria Is an Idiotic Gesture by Simon Jenkins ~
If revelations about the US drone program have taught us anything, it is that missiles or bullets shot from drones aren't half as precise as government leaders pretend they are. Drone operators frequently have no clue who they have just killed and injured.
And that's why it is beyond idiotic to think that missiles fired into Syria will help their situation in any way, shape or form. Personally, I wouldn't term this strategy as idiotic; inhumane is the word I would choose.
In order to "punish" the Assad regime for something no one is even sure they are responsible for, the US wants to kill innocent Syrians. And let's be clear about this. If the US employs missiles, innocent citizen WILL be killed and maimed. It is the nature of the beast.
Basically, President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry are advocating a strategy that treats the people of Syria -- mainly the poor who don't the wherewithal to get out of harm's way -- as throwaway pawns on the geopolitical chess board. To score some sort of political points, both men are willing to sacrifice some "faceless" people. And I'm sure they will try to browbeat members of Congress to allow them to play this deadly game.