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Letters: Caution on Syria

May 12, 2013
  • Syrian protesters in the city of Aleppo in March.
Syrian protesters in the city of Aleppo in March. (Associated Press )

Re "Time to act in Syria," Opinion, May 9

Chuck Freilich speaks of the terrible consequences of not dealing with the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war. He focuses only on Bashar Assad's regime as the likely perpetrator.

A prominent member of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria reported "strong, concrete suspicions" that sarin may have been used by rebel forces. The member in question, Carla Del Ponte, is no dilettante in such matters, having served as a prosecutor with the International Criminal Court. And although conspiracy theories remain, is it too fanciful to suggest that, given the unsavory character of some elements of the rebel Syrian National Coalition, such egregious action may have taken place?

The only problem with "red lines" comes when one may have to cross them. In that regard, is it also too conspiratorial a thought that the red line might be deliberately crossed by the other side to bring us in?

This is not to suggest anything other than abhorrence at the use of weapons of mass destruction by any party in the conflict. It is merely to say that President Obama's cautious approach is the right one.

David C. Speedie

New York

The writer is the director of the U.S. Global Engagement Program at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.

Re "The struggle for Syria," Opinion, May 7

Majid Rafizadeh offers compelling reasons for the United States to avoid any military involvement in Syria. After years of involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and the installation of new governments, battles and deaths still occur in those countries; Syria risks a similar fate from U.S. intervention.

Surely our best course of action is to do as Rafizadeh suggests: to be one of the countries that "join together to address suffering" and to "address the urgent medical and basic needs of Syrians." This is a role Americans can do well.

As Rafizadeh concludes, given the complexities and uncertainties about the future in Syria, "The way forward can only be shaped by Syrians."

Dan Cabrera



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