What dictators in that region can't fathom is how a democracy works. How President Obama could back down on the use of force because the American people and their congressional representatives didn't want another Middle East war. Such populist power is unknown in Arab countries. Yet it would be a big mistake to hold the view the US has chickened -out of the fray.
If the US attacks Syria on its own, it won't be the first time in a solo operation after a British rejection. UK politicians have short memories when trumpeting the Special Relationship. Some may recall Bill Clinton's first foreign trip as President was to the UK to seek support for operations to end the bloodbath in Bosnia after four years of carnage and NATO/UN fence sitting.
Erdogan is a shrewd, mature politician, intimately acquainted with this and other tenets of international relations. With him as captain, Turkey re-emerged as a financial behemoth in the region and flexed its political muscle. Yet he failed to foresee the ultimate direction of his ship: a painful choice between Scylla and Charybdis, the two mythical sea monsters.
As the nation's weather men and women garner larger audiences than usual this weekend with the population gripped by forecasts of snow and ice, this week saw a harsh reminder of the impact of cold weather for those targeted by civil war. Give it a few days, and no doubt the caterwauling will start as trains get cancelled and roads blocked around the country. For Syria's refugees, transport delays are the least of their problems.