In August, after the alleged chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government, President Barack Obama said the deployment would be a "game changer."
"Horrific as it is when mortars are being fired on civilians and people are being indiscriminately killed, to use potential weapons of mass destruction on civilian populations crosses another line with respect to international norms and international law," Obama told reporters at the White House Aug. 26.
But some say U.S. foreign policy isn't consistent. In a Foreign Policy story last month, Shane Harris and Matthew M. Aid reported that "a generation ago, America's military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks far more devastating than anything Syria has seen."
More from Foreign Policy:
In 1988, during the waning days of Iraq's war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein's military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent...
U.S. officials have long denied acquiescing to Iraqi chemical attacks, insisting that Hussein's government never announced he was going to use the weapons. But retired Air Force Col. Rick Francona, who was a military attache in Baghdad during the 1988 strikes, paints a different picture.
"The Iraqis never told us that they intended to use nerve gas. They didn't have to. We already knew," he told Foreign Policy.
On The Daily Circuit, we look back at previous foreign policy decisions by U.S. presidents and how they compare to Obama's stance on Syria.
LEARN MORE ABOUT AMERICA'S FOREIGN POLICY:
• The US Has No Credibility Dealing With Chemical Weapons
The controversy over Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles is not new. Both the Bush administration and Congress, in the 2003 Syria Accountability Act, raised the issue of Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles, specifically Syria's refusal to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention. The failure of Syria to end its chemical weapons program was deemed sufficient grounds by a large bipartisan majority of Congress to impose strict sanctions on that country. (Truthout)
• Truth-o-Meter: Chemical weapons have been used "probably 20 times" since the Persian Gulf War
We checked with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the group headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands, that oversees the international Chemical Weapons Convention, which went into force in 1997. Experts say it's the most authoritative source on chemical weapons attacks. Other than alleged attacks in Syria, which it's still investigating, the group officially acknowledges just a single chemical attack since 1990 — by a Japanese cult using homemade sarin gas on the Tokyo subway that killed 13 people and sickened thousands. (Politifact)
• The Fact Checker: Kerry's claim that only three 'tyrants' have used chemical weapons
Kerry's claim is incomplete. There are at least three more instances of chemical weapons use since the signing of the Geneva Protocol in 1925 — a treaty spurred by the horrors of chemical weapons use during World War I, when nearly 100,000 soldiers were killed and 1 million wounded through such weapons. (Washington Post)
• Andrew Bacevich on Taking Action in Syria
"If you think back to 1980," Andrew Bacevich tells Phil Donahue, "and just sort of tick off the number of military enterprises that we have been engaged in that part of the world, large and small, you know, Beirut, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia — and on and on, and ask yourself, 'What have we got done? What have we achieved? Is the region becoming more stable? Is it becoming more democratic? Are we enhancing America's standing in the eyes of the people of the Islamic world?' The answers are, 'No, no, and no.' So why, Mr. President, do you think that initiating yet another war in this protracted enterprise is going to produce a different outcome?" (Moyers & Company)