Yet President Obama, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who has prided himself on extricating U.S. forces from two foreign wars and has argued against unilateral military action, is staking his credibility and authority on leading the country into war with virtually no support from its closest allies.
In many ways, intervention in Syria comes down to credibility, Clarke, the former Pentagon spokeswoman said, the global credibility of the United States and Obama's personal credibility.
"He has to do something to demonstrate to our allies, to our enemies and to Assad that his word here is good," Clarke said.
Obama failed to convince members of the G-20 last week at a conference in Russia of the need to take military action and many believe he will fail to get congressional approval. Many members remain undecided, but more have come out to oppose a strike than support it.
"He has received a lot of criticism, from both Republicans and Democrats on issues large and small that he never puts skin in the game," Clarke said. "It's clear this time that he means business."