To hear the White House talk, President Obama isn’t attacking Syria because he “got his way” on a chemical weapons deal that was never really couched publicly as an option, while his impending defeat in Congress suggests that a big part of the backdown was the sheer unreasonableness of attacking in the face of explicit Congressional opposition.
The truth is that there are lots of reasons why this war, which never made much sense to begin with, has been making less and less sense as time went on, not the least of which is Syria’s rebels.
Nominally the “good guys” in the civil war, the Obama Administration has been publicly backing the rebels for years, yet finds the groups he was openly backing a mess of infighting, and the bulk of the rebellion now dominated by al-Qaeda.
That’s not a separate issue from the Congressional defeat, at least not entirely, for concerns of being “al-Qaeda’s air force” in the ongoing civil war was an argument used by some opponents of the intervention.
And while the “pro-US” rebels are now bashing the lack of war, the reality is their own lack of organization has made it really hard for even a lot of hawks to get on their side, and ultimately played a role in keeping America out of a war that the administration really wanted, but couldn’t sell.