Re "To Mideast, U.S. policy on region seems adrift," Sept. 2
Friends and foes alike are angry at us. Maybe we're on to something.
The Syrian rebels are angry because we won't bomb immediately, whereas the Syrian government thinks we're soft. Israel, our alleged best friend in the region, thinks we haven't shown enough gumption. And no one's asking why we aren't talking to the new president of Iran, who claims to want an opening of new avenues.
The Middle East is dangerous and uncontrollable. If there is lunacy there, we don't have to join in.
Taking it slowly, with cooperation from Congress and other world leaders, is the way to go. Congress may or may not go along with President Obama's request to authorize a narrow strike against Bashar Assad's forces. However that vote goes, the world must start understanding that the U.S. will not be the parent having to continually spank unruly children who are intent on killing one another and looking to blame anyone but themselves.
Every military option in Syria seems to open a potential can of worms, yet I think most people agree that something must be done to punish Assad for using poison gas and to deter him and others from doing likewise in the future.
It is clear by now that Assad is responsible for these attacks and, like most dictators, would shrug off any attacks on military targets (even though he doesn't strike me as someone who would last very long on a battlefield).
My suggestion, then, is to hit him where he lives — literally. Level his presidential palace (it's a beautifully isolated target, right on top of a hill). The remaining rubble should be a sufficiently powerful statement of what will happen, personally, to leaders like him, without materially interfering in the country's civil war.
As I read the various takes on attacking Syrian military installations and see the pictures of protesters waving signs that urge the U.S. not to get involved, I begin to wonder: What kind of people are we?
We need only reflect on World War II, when another dictator gassed millions of innocents. What would we do if we knew this carnage was happening? Say nothing? Raise our voices in outrage?
So what do we do now? Watch some of our politicians waste time arguing and angling for the political edge, or stand by silently?
Obviously, legitimate questions need to be answered, but we need to act and send the message to those leaders inclined to gas their own civilians that military action will be swift and sure. If we do not act, then the question becomes which victims are next.
Spring Valley, Calif.
For Obama on Syria, it's damned if you do, damned if you don't — a no-win situation.
Here, restraint and careful deliberation show strength, not weakness. He who hesitates is probably right.