So there's the thing: There is no reason to "punish" Syria for its actions before the report from the inspectors, is there?
And by the way who gave us the authority to punish a nation or its leaders anyway? So if we want to make the Syrian government understand that using chemical weapons is absolutely wrong, there are a number of ways to do that. Bombing the shit out of something (and the occasional someone) is not the only option.
There is considerable protest that the action contemplated is not about getting rid of the Governing leaders in Syria, but about "punishment."
But let's be honest. The only reason to act swiftly is to bring down the government of Syria in steps - first the punishment, then the punishment for reacting with hostility, then the punishment for not giving up, and so on.
This is not like whack on the back of the head. What is being talked about is an action that will give rise to a reaction, and from there where will it go? In all likelihood to some action by Syria that will lead to escalated counter action by US, England and France, and so on.
If we are at all interested in addressing the law regarding use of chemical weapons, fine. Then lets build the case, charge the leaders of Syria, bring the leaders to world court, convict them and have done with it. And perhaps if we had a warrant we could make a case for "extracting" the president of Syria to face charges of crimes against humanity.
I think what is being contemplated is a development of crisis that will mean war with the government of Syria with the explicit hope to overthrow that Government, not by civil war, but through war by others, namely us. And it will not be on behalf of the citizens of Syria, but on behalf of European and American powers who want a government that is both secular, Syrian and at least a tad more democratic than the current government, but mostly one that will not align with radical forces in the Middle East, etc. We really do want the Government of Syria overthrown, but the way we want it.
But honesty in that respect is not going to be easy to come by.
Instead we are likely to get rapid action, provoke response, deal with that, and slowly push ourselves forward into the old old path of trying to make and break governments in other people's lands. All with the protest that we are not entering into the conflict in Syria at all.
When it is over we will be roundly hated by everyone concerned, and we will still not be able to be the police of the world, or the school principal either.
We can do better. And I hope the President remembers that we can.