Nice op-ed by Joe Lieberman, John McCain and Lindsey Graham in WAPO.
The core argument:
We are hopeful the rebels will ultimately prevail, but it remains a deeply unfair and brutal fight, and the speed and manner by which it is won matter enormously. All evidence suggests that, rather than peacefully surrendering power, Assad and his allies will fight to the bitter end, tearing apart the country in the process.
America’s disengagement from this conflict carries growing costs — for the Syrian people and for U.S. interests.
Because we have refused to provide the rebels the assistance that would tip the military balance decisively against Assad, the United States is increasingly seen across the Middle East as acquiescing to the continued slaughter of Arab and Muslim civilians. This reluctance to lead will, we fear — like our failure to stop the slaughter of the Kurds and Shiites under Saddam Hussein in Iraq or of the Tutsis in Rwanda — haunt our nation for years to come.
Our lack of active involvement on the ground in Syria also means that, when the Assad regime finally does fall, the Syrian people are likely to feel little goodwill toward the United States — in contrast to Libya, where profound gratitude for America’s help in the war against Moammar Gaddafi has laid the foundation for a bright new chapter in relations between our two countries.
We are being left behind by events. When Al-Qaida makes this a bigger cause celebre than America does, we lose by definition - by our abscence.
We keep trying to wind ourselves up over the chem weapons depots, but we should be more concerned with registering the anti-Iranian win in a way that benefits Israel - if we're serious about wanting to avoid war with Iran. That's the bigger fish here, not the lowest common threat inflator of chemical arms.
There are plenty of ways to ramp up our involvement without boots on the ground. WAPO ran an editorial recently calling for the always handy no-fly-zone.
We have entered the R2P space (right to protect), and what we need to protect most here is our credibility and the region from outcomes that make it less stable over the Arab Spring's continued unfolding.
I have, in the past, noted that the Arab Spring has been kind enough to us to offer the one-damn-thing-after-another dynamic. Well, now's the time when we seriously deal with the one damn thing called Syria.
The Syrian PM just defected. What are we waiting for?