(AP) In declaring Syria a national security threat, President Barack Obama is warning as much about the leaders of Iran and North Korea as about Bashar Assad.
And administration officials say America's credibility with those countries will be an immediate casualty if the U.S. fails to respond to Syria now with military action.
It's a connection that's not immediately clear to most Americans especially after the White House refused to send military support earlier in the Syrian war.
Following an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack outside Damascus, the White House declared Syria's civil war a top risk to American interests. The administration says that attack killed 1,429. Other estimates are lower.
The war, now in its third year, has so far killed more than 100,000 people.