American voices are influencing discussion about Syria. That is good, because it would not have happened if the president had decided to strike first, instead of bringing the matter to Congress for a vote.
In my view, Barack Obama's speech on Syria this week was the high point of his presidency. Ultimately it could cement his place in history the way President Kennedy's courage and resolve during the Cuban missile crisis did for him.
Obama's change of tack came one day after Moscow initiated a series of fast-moving diplomatic moves in an effort to diffuse the deeply unpopular American plan to bomb the Syrian regime after it allegedly used chemical weapons against its own people last month.
"Assad was a master of evasion, dodging, weaving, demanding absolute certainty; he treated the interview as a game of chess, making the necessary moves to avoid having to admit the evidence he knows (I believe) is there."
It would be pretty easy to be pessimistic (or even downright cynical) at this juncture in time, for these and dozens of other reasons. Even so, the possible success of the idea is more than a little tantalizing, for all concerned.
So a "red line" appears only in conjunction with chemical weapons? I get it, that there is a treaty to which President Obama's illustrative ultimatum refers -- I also know how susceptible the masses are to quotable quips.
The president may have insufficiently considered the implications of his red line comment but we disagree the comment was inherently a blunder. The president was restating conventional wisdom: Using chemical weapons transgresses an international red line that all governments must defend.
While we debate the future of President Bashar al-Assad, the most urgent issue is the protection of millions of Syrian people who are already being victimized. The international community must act to prevent the displacement or even worse, the deaths of women, children and men.
Failure to respond to the crisis in Syria will allow evil to beget evil. We cannot merely watch as the crisis in Syria spirals into further attacks on Syrian citizens and, in turn, draws the United States and the international community into an even deeper threat to global security.
It is horrific to envision the scene at those hospitals the day of the alleged attacks. For health care professionals, the most difficult task in such a situation is immediately determining what type of poison the patient was exposed to, in order to choose the proper course of treatment.
We Americans tend to think of most wars in terms of our own Revolution. There is an oppressive ruler. There are an oppressed people. The people yearn for greater freedom and democracy for all. The oppressive ruler must fall so that a brighter day may dawn. If only it were true.