To the Editor:

President Obama promised meaningful action by the U.S. if chemical weapons were used in Syria. Although U.N. inspectors are still examining the evidence, there is little doubt that the “red line” has been crossed. In response, our primary objective must be to diminish or eliminate President Bashar al-Assad’s ability to use chemical weapons. But what is the most appropriate tactic to achieve this goal?

Three broadly defined courses of action have been discussed: a military strike; diplomatic resolution; do nothing. Each option presents difficulties, but only one has the potential to achieve the principal objective. A diplomatic solution, one in which Assad agrees to eliminate his chemical weapons, is the only way to achieve the objective.

A limited military strike cannot eliminate Syria’s chemical stockpiles. The weapons are dispersed and their whereabouts unknown. Besides, they are a dangerous target because the gas could be released in an attack or the munitions removed by terrorists in the wake of an attack. Discussion of a military strike should continue, however, if it serves to motivate concerned parties to find a timely, diplomatic solution. In this case, a military option is relevant only as a catalyst for diplomacy.

Doing nothing diminishes the U.S. on the world stage, weakens the office of our president, and fails to eliminate Assad’s chemical weapons. This is the worst choice of the three.

Harry Bolich

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