The civil war in Syria poses an impossible dilemma for U.S. foreign policy: If we choose to back one side -- either the rebels or the government -- and they are victorious, the outcome almost certainly will be bad. So President Obama is wise to not throw military support behind either side. However, Assad's actions in this conflict are so brutal, resulting in the deaths of more than 100,000 of his citizens, that it is very difficult to stand on the sidelines.
Assad's forces crossed a red line when they used chemical weapons against Syrian citizens. Civilized society has abhorred the use of chemical weapons, and has successfully banned its use for many decades, except for rare violations. President Obama had correctly called this out as a red line, and if your red line is crossed, you need to respond.
Assad would not respond to arguments of morality -- I agree with the president in declaring his intention to launch a military strike against Syria in response to the use of chemical weapons. The administration had a plan for a strike that would inflict pain but not lead to an entanglement in a protracted war. But Russia and Syria stunned us all by agreeing to a plan to disarm Syria of its chemical weapons. We can still be skeptical of this plan's final outcome, but so far it's moving along according to schedule: Syria has already submitted a list of weapons and sites. There would have been no such action if Obama had not threatened a military strike. If things go well, the military threat will result in Syria's chemical disarmament.
-- ROBERT SCHERPELZ, Kennewick