A Syrian flag is held aloft with the White House in the background
A Syrian flag waves in front of the White House at a March 2012 protest that called on the US to intervene in the Syrian Civil War. (Photo/Flickr-Allyson Neville-Morgan CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

No more excuses for US inaction on Syria

Be warned. Video clips of the April 4 chemical attack on civilians in Syria’s Idlib province are all over the internet, and they are not for anyone with a heart and a soul. (Keep that in mind before you watch the video below.)

By most accounts, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ordered the strike — likely a form of nerve agent — which killed more than 70 and injured scores. The videos show the bodies of men, women and, most gruesome of all, children sprawled on the ground, twisted in rigor mortis.

It had already been abundantly clear before this outrage that Assad is a monster, with a taste for slaughtering his own people. The entire world swiftly condemned the chemical attack, including President Trump, who labeled it “an affront to humanity.”

Obviously, we echo that condemnation, especially now, at a time when thousands of Syrian refugees continue to pour into Turkey and Europe, fleeing the butcher of Damascus. In light of what is happening in their homeland, it is unconscionable that the Trump administration seeks to close the door on them.

But that is another matter. As for intervening in Syria directly, extreme dangers on the ground, multiple warring factions and complicated geopolitics make it hard for nations to respond in a way that stops the killing.

That is no excuse for hesitation or inaction. The United States, traditionally the moral arbiter for the world, should take the lead in applying diplomatic, military and economic pressure. However, recent statements from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, both de-prioritizing Assad’s removal, does not bode well.

We were pleased to see a strong condemnation of the attack from Israeli leaders, such as President Reuven Rivlin, who said Israel will “do all we can to continue to aid the survivors of the horrors in Syria.” Israel has already given medical care to more than 3,000 Syrians injured in the civil war, according to media reports. That humanitarian effort will no doubt continue, showing once again the true nature of Israelis.

Meanwhile, political leaders can no longer harbor any pretense about Assad. He is a pariah on the same level as North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. Shame on nations such as Russia and Iran for continuing to support and protect Assad for their own dark purposes.

This latest atrocity in Syria, coming on top of the brutal violence that has plagued that country for nearly six years, should finally shake the world out of its ethical doldrums.

It is past time to step in and stop the killing.

J. Staff