Syria has crossed the line

Gazette Editorial Board


Getting involved in someone else’s civil war is risky at best, very costly in blood and resources over a long time at worst, world history tells us many times over.

Still, as the complicated situation in Syria worsens and the innocent victims toll mounts, it’s increasingly difficult for the United States to stand by and not get involved. It’s clear that the Bashar al-Assad regime has used chemical weapons against civilians, killing up to 1,300 last week — one of the most horrific actions any nation’s military can inflict.

It also is clear that a deterrent message must be sent to the Syrian dictatorship. If not now, then when? How many more such atrocities likely from this oppressive regime can the world ignore?

President Barack Obama, his advisers and military experts are reviewing options, as are Britain, France and others. Most of the discussion is focused on limited air or ship/submarine-based missile strikes against military targets that would significantly damage the regime’s ability to continue operations.

We believe that a carefully crafted international response — not a unilateral U.S. action — along those lines is justified. Congress must be consulted and on board.

The United Nations Security Council, whose primary responsibility is maintenance of international peace and security, is not likely to be much help, given that Syrian ally Russia is one of the five permanent members.

So this should be a coordinated response by the world’s leading free countries. It should not be a long-term, boots-on-the-ground intervention. Instead, make surgical strikes that punish the regime for going beyond warfare between declared combatants. Any action is risky for outside nations, but the cost of inaction is greater for humanity.

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