Peaceful coexistence: this is my prayer.
With respect to Syria:
1. If the US is intent on avenging deaths from chemical weapons, it should be asking, “Why these deaths?” and “Why should we be the avenging party?”
2. If the US is seeking to punish those guilty of using chemical weapons, it should do so in a way that punishes only the guilty. This would suggest using mechanisms set up for bringing to justice persons guilty of crimes against humanity, or possibly using covert means.
3. If the US is seeking to reinforce the general prohibition against chemical-weapons use, it should use a strategy that will really achieve this aim. Bombing Syria to cripple its air power (and hence its capacity to “deliver” chemical weapons) is a crude and doubtful means to achieve this aim. Nor will bombing Syria have the effect of deterring Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.
The United States has fallen into a bad habit of being over-active militarily. Its leaders say it is in the nation’s interests to bomb Syria, that it will advance many sweeping aims, like making the US itself safer from chemical weapons attacks. Instead, its interventions in remote countries have the opposite effect, sowing hatred and resentment in the hearts of foreign peoples–and justifiably so.
A courageous power would turn away from the temptation of easy violence, which Americans perpetrate readily, thinking it bears no cost to themselves. The day the United States chooses to conduct itself as a nation among nations is the day it confirms its status as a mature and lasting power.