"It doesn’t matter that Bush was (kind of) a cowboy, and that Obama was (kind of) a law professor; all of that became irrelevant, or at least superfluous, when they became American presidents. To embody the sovereign will of the United States—to be the world’s only superpower, the world policeman—is to be bound by the logic of arbitrary power, to be forced to occupy and preserve the state of exception in which American exceptionalism is founded. Because the United States is powerful, it has the power to decide where and how and when and to whom the rules apply. If it does not have that power, it is not powerful; if it is not powerful, it is not the United States. The stakes for every American president, then, are existential. If Syria is allowed to cross the red line unpunished, it will threaten the very basis of American identity, the exceptionalism which makes America the solitary sovereign actor on the world stage. Punishing them for doing so—with a handful of inconsequential cruise missiles or even a more aggressive and disastrous bombing campaign—would accomplish no more than re-instating that narrative, that the United States is, still, the decider. But that’s all its meant to accomplish."
Aaron Bady, The Sovereign Double-Standard