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I am concerned the United States will soon become militarily engaged in Syria’s civil war. Though the massive loss of life at the hands of Assad’s brutal regime is tragic, intervening in Syria’s civil war would be a mistake.

Without boots out the ground, any weapons we send to “pro-Western” rebels may fall into the hands of al Qaida or its affiliates. Further, once Assad is toppled, it is doubtful that those who take power will show deference to U.S. interests simply because we intervened on their behalf against Assad.

Any armed intervention by the U.S. poses risks that our engagement could quickly escalate to require the deployment of U.S. ground forces to Syria. If the U.S. attacks Assad’s regime, Syria could respond by attacking U.S. targets or our allies; this would rapidly draw the U.S. into a full-scale war.

If we begin imposing a no fly zone, we have to be prepared to rescue any downed aircraft with ground forces. Further, if we begin bombing targets in Syria and Assad’s regime somehow survives, we will face a choice of escalating the war or losing credibility.

Withholding armed support from the Syrian rebels does not mean the U.S. need sit idly by while the humanitarian crisis worsens. The U.S. can and should escalate diplomatic pressure on Russia to work with the U.S. to manage Assad’s exit from Damascus. The costs to Russia for standing by this slaughter must be made intolerable for Moscow.

Andrew Person

Missoula

 

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