Many of you have asked a broader question: Why should we get involved at all in a place that’s so complicated and where, as one person wrote to me, those who come after Assad may be enemies of human rights?
It’s true that some of Assad’s opponents are extremists. But al-Qaeda will only draw strength in a more chaotic Syria if people there see the world doing nothing to prevent innocent civilians from being gassed to death.
The majority of the Syrian people, and the Syrian opposition we work with, just want to live in peace, with dignity and freedom.
The president spoke a great deal about the horrific images of the gas attack, but there are other images out there as well — images from the rebels — including beheadings, summary executions, and even images of rebels eating the hearts of the dead.
Any action that would aid such evil is not “plainly just.” It is simply wrong to deceive the American people about the true nature of both sides of the Syrian conflict, and verbal sleight of hand regarding the “majority of . . . the Syrian opposition we work with” (emphasis added) doesn’t adequately describe an opposition overrun with Islamists.
Al-Qaeda’s presence in the opposition isn’t just one objection among many; for a critical mass of Americans it is the principal objection to military action. The president’s address utterly failed to assuage their (and my) concerns.