A man breathes through an oxygen mask after a suspected gas attack in Idlib, Syria, April 2017.
Ammar Abdullah / Reuters

The Syrian regime’s horrific chemical weapons attack Tuesday has totally inverted the U.S. policy debate on Syria. The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has whipsawed—in less than a week—from acquiescing to the continued rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to threatening some unspecified unilateral intervention in Syria.

The rhetoric of top U.S. officials suggests the United States may be headed toward a major new escalation in Syria. If so, any threatened U.S. action should have the narrow, clearly articulated objective of halting the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime and

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