When the US was attacked on Sept 11, 2001, blame was quickly and efficiently turned to Saddam and Iraq. Whether justified or not, Saddam was destined to be linked to the World Trade Center attacks. The emphasis veered away from the terrorists who carried out the attack and towards a leader in charge of a country full of resources and opportunities.
Saddam’s Iraq is a lot more valuable than Bashar’s Syria, which makes it ok to have one dictator slaughter and gas his own people while it wasn’t for another. It seems that the US is not outraged over what Bashar Assad is doing to countless of innocent Syrians who its been deemed don’t need to be liberated or freed. Their plight is taken note of but filed away to be dealt with by another administration or at a different time. The ad hoc polices to deal with Syria that have been formulated and carried out have been insignificant, inefficient, and wasteful. Recently, the course shifted and for the better after Russia’s interventions with the US effort focusing on funding existing rebel groups that are already fighting ISIS instead of creating and funding new ones to add to the mix. But the message is still intact: the fight is against ISIS and not against the Syrian dictator.
Freedom and democracy are not the desired outcomes for Syria as it was for Iraq. War only makes sense when the spoils can be exploited and shared, which has not turned out exactly as planned from the Iraq war, but it was certainly the push behind the offensive.
The dire and horrific consequences of being ruled by the two dictators are similar but the how to deal with them has been wholly different.