Saber-rattling won't get us anywhere in Syria

When it comes to Syria, we live in an Alice-In-Wonderland world. John Kerry, once the young, defiant pacifist, has morphed into a hawk, and President Obama, who opposed the Iraq intervention, has done a similar turnaround ("Putin's dubious offer," Sept. 10).

So as I understand it, we're supposed to show them we can kill better and thus teach them not to kill — at least with gas? Where are the other residents of the neighborhood? Don't Syria's neighbors feel any moral obligation to intervene, even minimally, to express their disapproval and concern?

Rich, powerful Saudi Arabia appears to be working behind the scenes. Why behind the scenes? Is it disgraceful, or somehow blasphemous, to censure the horrific acts that strangle the life out of innocents?

Yes, Syrian President Bashar Assad has to be stopped. But Russia has stepped in with an offer that can't be refused and that should be welcomed. Mr. Obama almost grudgingly acknowledged that offer, citing Russia as Syria's strongest ally, as if just to make sure I know who my enemies are.

Diplomacy, a statesman once said, is precisely the art of engaging one's enemies — not one's friends. Or, to put it more diplomatically, it is reaching out to those of dramatically differing views. Diplomacy, the involvement of Russia and the entire Arab world must be the method pursued in the case of Syria, and it is certainly a more sane, rational and humane response than saber-rattling.

Vivian D. Braun, Baltimore

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