The Obama administration has decided to strike at the Assad regime in Syria because of its alleged use of chemical weapons in a civil war that has already killed about 100,000 people and sent millions of refugees into Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq ("The decisive moment," Sept. 9).
As yet unclear is when the attack will be launched or what form it will take. The administration has been talking about air strikes while Secretary of State John Kerry, waffle iron at the ready, has hinted at the use of ground forces.
Yet what's happening in Syria is what has happened in Asia Minor for a thousand-plus years. The Muslims are murdering one another in the name of Allah because they have yet to decide whether Sunni Islam, which favors a return to the caliphate, is the correct path, or whether only the Shi'a are the true "people of the book."
The point is that whatever the eventual outcome of the conflict may be, there will be no end to it. Things will just go on as they always have, with one tyrant or another in charge, albeit temporarily.
Until very recently the true agenda of the administration was unspoken. Now, however, what is clear is that when the United States finally moves forward its main goal will be to keep Iran in check. The Persian mullahs are Shi'a and therefore support Mr. Assad. A defeat for him would be to defeat for them as well, or at least give them pause. That there are Iranians or their surrogates fighting alongside Mr. Assad's forces is an open secret, and that Iran is providing the Assad regime with direct military support is a given.
What remains unspoken by the administration and those of both parties who support its position is that to openly oppose Mr. Assad through military intervention is to ally ourselves with the Sunnis of Hezbollah and al-Qaida who are fighting on the side of the Syrian insurgents.
Yes, al-Qaida — the perpetrators of 9/11 and countless other obscenities across the civilized world; and Hezbollah, which is dedicated to the eradication of Israel, the only true democracy in that benighted part of the world.
As has often been said, the devil is in the details. In the Arab world, the devil is supreme whatever form he may take. And an alliance with the devil is very risky business for whatever reason it is forged.
Alan Walden, Baltimore