Now, let's take a look at what the U.S. military might do in Syria. The Pentagon has prepared military options that would allow the U.S. to launch a punitive strike against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has been at the center of that military planning, even as he visited Asia this past week. NPR's Larry Abramson has been traveling all week with Secretary Hagel. He's had a unique vantage point on those deliberations and joins us now. Larry, thanks for being with us.
As the Obama administration argues for a military intervention in Syria in response to a chemical attack that it says killed more than 1,400 Syrians, analysts say the case for a strike lacks a legal framework.
President Obama said Friday that the decision to act is part of a U.S. obligation as a world leader to make sure that regimes are held to account if they are found targeting their own people with weapons prohibited by international norms.
"If there's a sense that if nobody's willing to enforce them, then people don't take them seriously," he said Friday.
What would Iraq and Israel do if the U.S. launches military action against the Syrian government? Former analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency Joshua Foust speaks with host Scott Simon about the wider consequences for the Middle East.
Nearly 200 members of Congress have signed letters insisting that the president submit plans for any military strike in Syria for authorization. Host Scott Simon talks with Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington, who has signed one of the letters.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. A U.N. inspections team left Syria this morning and that team is making its way back to Europe where it will analyze samples that were collected at the site of a poison gas attack outside of Damascus. In Washington, D.C. the Obama Administration says it is already convinced that Bashar Assad's regime used chemical weapons during that attack, and yesterday the White House released a summary of intelligence that says that more than 1400 civilians were killed by chemical weapons.
The small town of Waldoboro, Maine, boasts two attractions: Moody's Diner, reputed to be one of the oldest in the country, and the Toy Museum. It was founded in 1996 by John Fawcett. Karen Michel paid the museum's founder a visit as she wrapped up her summer vacation.
KAREN MICHEL, BYLINE: The sign says world class museum enjoyed by adults, a Maine vacation delight - open.
While many Americans take time off this weekend, a group of conservative activists are meeting in Florida. Americans for Prosperity, a group that was founded by David and Charles Koch, is holding its annual summit in Orlando. That gathering includes several rising stars among conservatives - Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Texas Senator Ted Cruz. But in terms of issues, NPR's Greg Allen reports, one seems to stand above all - stopping Obamacare.
To Damascus now, as Syrians prepare for what might be coming. Nada Keuttnen works helping visiting journalists there in Damascus, including several NPR reporters. She joins us over Skype. Nada, thank you very much for being with us.
NADA KEUTTNEN: You are welcome.
SIMON: What's Damascus like today?
KEUTTNEN: It doesn't seem different than two, three, even a week ago. The life is going on. People are a bit may be worried and they're trying to buy extra dry food, expecting that something will happen but nothing is.
As U.S. forced reportedly prepare to launch a limited military action against the Syrian government, we turn now to a voice who's long made the case that the U.S. must take some action in Syria. Michael Ignatieff is a leading voice for the idea of humanitarian intervention. He helped develop the concept of the responsibility to protect. He is the former leader of Canada's Liberal party and now back on the faculty of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School.