America seems to have lost its appetite for foreign blood. I say foreign because we're still quite busy killing each other here at home, but let's stick to the point: why the retrenching on Syria?
America has long been happy taking down dictators, especially those who a: attack their own people and b: fund terrorists. Yet somehow we're not all that excited to take on Syria. It's not like Assad doesn't fit both bills. But the problem seems to be that those fighting Assad aren't really all that better. The fact that the opposing side hasn't been able to rally behind a single leader is one problem, another is that no one really knows who they stand for. We learned that lesson the hard way in Egypt.
In Egypt we rallied for "the people" to overthrow a dictatorship, one that was pretty friendly with us. Then "the people" elected (narrowly) a religious-backed zealot who let the other zealots have a go at running the government. That didn't go well. Now the zealots themselves have been deposed in record time and we... have no damn clue as to whom to back or why. Lesson learned, middle east politics don't necessarily have a "good guy" by western definition, they only have various degrees of "bad guys" all of whom couldn't care less about civil rights, equality or even keeping the lights on and the water running for their population.
So even without a single name to back on the opposition, why haven't we set up a no-fly zone to force Assad to stop killing his own people? Possibly it was another lesson learned from Libya. That didn't go all that well either, and the thing people remember most isn't the final, sad passage of Gaddafi (truthfully I just had to google his name). We remember the attack on our embassy.
After more than a few decades of war America isn't the same place. Instead of staring down the Russians and Chinese who happily profit from dictatorial regimes, we shy away. Now it seems that Russia is coming to *our* aid by slapping Assad on the wrist and making him drop his dirty toys. We shake the stick and they get the credit? How the fuck did that happen?
Maybe Americans now understand the cost of wars. 1990 had been a pretty long time since 1945, and people forgot. They also forgot 1953. And 1975. We tend to forget pretty quickly what war does to us. The silence from the American public is deafening. Does that mean we have gone deaf to the plight of the sick and dying in Syria? Maybe not. Maybe they're just being drowned out by all the suffering being felt around the world, including us here are home, after all if you don't have a job or a home wtf do you care about someone else?