It's arguable that there should be a response to the chemical attack that took place last week, ("Punishing Syria," Aug. 26). The perpetrators of this atrocity must be apprehended and brought to justice internationally.

However, it is stretching credulity to believe that a U.S. strike on an alleged chemical weapons facility will save more lives as opposed to continued tough diplomacy. In addition, it would be difficult to justify a military strike as a legitimate response when there is no imminent threat to the United States, nor can a retaliatory war of this kind be said to be a war of last resort.

Besides, although Syria is likely involved, there is no clear evidence of who might have been instigators in the Aug. 21 attack.

Civilians invariably are the primary victims in these conflicts, and like gasoline thrown on a blazing fire in hopes that it will somehow put the fire out, they are sacrificed, maimed and killed for the greater good. Rather than making the U.S. and its allies safer, a retaliatory strike would be dangerous and make the U.S. less safe, widening war in this powder keg region.

President Barack Obama and Congress have the power to prevent further bloodshed — they can continue to support diplomacy and provide humanitarian assistance where possible. They have the power and the time to do so.

Lee Lears, Annapolis