- September 2, 2013, 12:55 p.m. ET
Bombing or Killing Assad Won’t Solve the Syrian Mess
Regarding your editorial “The Problem Is Assad” (Aug. 27): I am no fan of Bashar Assad, but I think our administration and most pundits are getting it wrong on Syria. What is going on there is not an insurrection of the good guys against the bad regime but is a full-blown civil war between two equally bad players, and Syrians are divided roughly 50-50. Both sides are equally brutal and anti-American. The only reason the rebels didn’t use chemical weapons is because they don’t have them. To take sides means we alienate half the population, and we make a bad situation a lot worse.
If Assad falls, Syria will not turn into a Middle-Eastern Switzerland. And not even into an Afghanistan or Iraq. It will most likely be a Somalia or Yemen ruled by a malicious Hydra with a thousand jihadist heads. There will be unimaginable slaughter of minorities and loyalists (roughly half the population), which is already taking place in rebel-controlled areas.
How would anybody who is calling for intervention have reacted if in 1864 some foreign country decided that the American civil war had gone far too long and had become too brutal, and that was time to end it by arming the rebels, bombing Washington and eliminating Abraham Lincoln?
An attack on Syria will be a grave mistake and will have catastrophic consequences for Syrians as well as for the whole region and far beyond. I hope cooler heads will prevail before it’s too late.
The very idea that we have any chance of controlling the outcome by taking out Assad is folly. How would this be accomplished unless we deploy an occupying force? Syria would be the mother of all slogs, and the Russians and Chinese would jump for joy as we become pinned down again and deplete our Treasury. I say take out some serious Assad assets with cruise missiles and high-altitude bombers to send the message on the use of chemical weapons, and do so again and again if needed to cement the message, and then let them have at it and use the savings to invest in this country. Please, please, please, rent the film “Lawrence of Arabia.” You all need a refresher.
John R. Briggs
Fair Oaks, Calif.
Regarding Andrew Roberts’s “Syria’s Gas Attack on Civilization” (op-ed, Aug. 26): Why is annihilating 100,000 people with a nuclear bomb deemed less barbaric than killing a few hundred people with poison gas? Why is assassinating someone with a missile fired from a drone considered more civilized than beheading the same person? Quite simply the “law of war” is an irreconcilable oxymoron. Any attempt to rationalize one form of mass murder as inherently morally superior to another is a fool’s errand.
Michael H. Leb
A version of this article appeared September 3, 2013, on page A14 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Bombing or Killing Assad Won’t Solve the Syrian Mess.