The horrifying pictures of dead children and civilians killed by the Syrian military are making the international community take action that it otherwise wouldn't, according to U.S. Naval War College professor Thomas Nichols.
"Civil war has been going on for two years, and I think the western powers had resigned themselves to somehow living with it, but not with this kind of scale and indiscriminate use of chemical weapons. I think they just can't turn their backs on it anymore," Nichols said.
He said the abomination of using gas against its own citizens is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.
"Do you want to create a world in which it's a jungle where you can use chemical weapons with impunity? If you don't worry about that then this is not an issue that you care about," Nichols said.
And for those who believe there isn't a national security issue, Nichols said the consequences of such attacks create instability that spills over to nearby countries in waves of refugees.
"Refugee crises are international security crises because they do affect the stability of other countries. Sooner or later all those people who are being killed or gassed are going to have to go somewhere," Nichols said.
The professor dismisses arguments that the nation can't be caught up trying to remake another country's government as not realistic.
"I think that's a debate full of false choices. Either we completely invade and bring in ground troops and are bogged down for 100 years or we do nothing. I think there's a lot that falls in between those two choices," Nichols said.