The steady beat of war drums has picked up this week, as reports flew out of Syria surrounding a chemical weapons strike that many officials -- including in the U.S. -- claim was launched by President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
In the video above, from MSNBC on Monday, Ed Husain of the Council on Foreign Relations urged a cautious approach to intervention in Syria. He said it was crucial not to act without certainty that Assad -- and not al Qaeda or rebel forces, which have also been accused of using chemical weapons -- was responsible for the attack.
Despite the ongoing investigation, there isn't clear proof that Assad is responsible for the attacks, though U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was all but certain Monday that the Syrian government was responsible. In some of the strongest terms to come from the Obama administration thus far, Kerry accused Assad's regime of the "indiscriminate slaughter of civilians" and promised to hold the Syrian government accountable for a "moral obscenity."
Husain also sought to reframe the debate over the U.S. feeling obligated to lead the charge on any potential intervention, and questioned what the benefit of an intervention would be.
"The Europeans have a responsibility to act here, the Arab nations do and Turkey does," he says. "The responsibility to act doesn't mean that it always has to be the U.S. I think we're encouraging a culture in the Middle East of dependency on the United States every time there's a conflict there and there are other global players that have a responsibility to burden some of that."
Husain, later in the show, questioned what a bombing would accomplish, and wondered why Assad would launch a chemical weapon attack in an area he already controlled. "Short of a U.S. invasion, short of U.S. troops on the ground, you're not going to separate fighting factions inside of Syria," he said. "Why would Assad want to use chemical weapons in the northeastern suburbs of Damascas -- Damascus that's under his control -- to kill only, forgive me for being so cold, about 1,000 people, whereas he's killed 5,000 people every month for 16 months without chemical weapons? So why now?"
Reuters reported that a top Kurdish leader in Syria, who has fought Assad in the past, also doubted the regime was behind the attack. "The regime in Syria ... has chemical weapons, but they wouldn't use them around Damascus, 5 km from the (U.N.) committee which is investigating chemical weapons. Of course they are not so stupid as to do so," Muslim told Reuters.