I'm skeptical, however, about the proposal by Russia to use the United Nations to secure and destroy Syria's stockpiles of chemical weapons. This certainly could be a way out of the crisis, but the chill between the U.S. and Russia can literally be photographed. When Vladimir Putin, the former head of the KGB, reaches out with a proposal that appears to save President Obama from an embarrassing defeat in Congress, it's not inappropriate to ask what he's got up his sleeve.
Then there's the question of justice. If a madman had riddled a crowd with an AK-47, would we simply ask him to hand over his weapon and allow him to walk away?
Nevertheless, the crisis has been averted for now, and that's a good thing.
Another good thing is that the president's decision to let Congress weigh in on military action has forced foreign affairs into the American public consciousness like it seldom is. Frankly, we don't tend to pay much attention to world affairs until events demand some kind of U.S. military response.
While I'm in the minority of my fellow Americans who would support a military strike against Syria (only one out of three of us do), the public debate over this forces all of us to consider America's place in the world. And that's an especially appropriate thing to reflect on today, the anniversary of the horrible attacks on New York and Washington.
It's useful to remind ourselves that 3,000 innocent Americans did nothing more than go to work that day and that they were killed with nothing more than box cutters. So, while I wish we could ban all chemical weapons and nuclear weapons and AK-47s -- and hand guns, for that matter -- we also need to somehow address the underlying issues that bring us to this point. If Bashar al-Assad really did kill 1,400 of his own citizens with chemical weapons, what on earth was his motivation?
It doesn't seem like it today, but the truth is that the world is actually becoming a more peaceful place. In the middle of World War II, Assad's atrocity might not have made the front pages. In a world that is becoming less violent it is appropriately an international outrage.
It seems to me that to continue on a path to a more peaceful world we can't let the use of chemical weapons go unanswered. Turning them over and destroying them would be a start. But it's just a start.