Editorial: Syria options

Outside of some sort of a true miracle, there are no good options when it comes to U.S. and its allies’ intervention in Syria.

What’s our definition of a true miracle? That Bashar al-Assad and his regime would be replaced by a democratic government, one that no longer looked to serve as a surrogate for Iran or as a safe haven for terrorism.

What exists in Syria and the region makes such a possibility an unlikely dream.

The ongoing civil war has not produced the kind of opposition that is likely to promote a popular transformation from tyrannical rule. Instead, the rebels who would likely take a leadership role would substitute Assad’s ties to Iran and Hezbollah with their own connections to terrorist groups like al-Qaida.

In any case, more men, women and children will be caught in the crossfire of this ongoing civil war.

Those same citizens will likely suffer, too, regardless of the military option the United States might mount in response to Syria’s use of poison gas.

“The options that we are considering are not about regime change,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said earlier in the week. “There will be a response ... there must be a response. We cannot allow this kind of violation of an international norm.”

Even if news reports are true, that the U.S. action will be cruise-missile or bomber strikes against specific military targets, there are potential consequences that are dangerous for the U.S. Would such a strike serve as a rallying cry for anti-American sentiment beyond Syria’s borders? Could Assad be swayed by an attack to put a clamp on Syria’s chemical weapons — or will he do what he sees as necessary to keep hold of his power?

Not taking action, too, has repercussions.

Beyond signaling to Assad that he can use chemical weapons with impunity, a soft response sends the wrong kind of message to Iran — and even North Korea — when it comes to their interest in nuclear weapons.

Obama has been smart in trying to avoid getting entangled in Syria. Assad’s decision to use poison gas changes that equation to one where there are no good options.

And a miracle is extremely unlikely.

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