There are no solutions here, other than stabilizing the country and forcing an Iraq-style election on the people with Assad allowed to run. How embarrassing it would be to depose him, hold elections, and then have Pew polling tell you that Assad is still the most popular leader in the country?
The problem here is, as it is in many of these Middle Eastern dictatorships, is that the solution…
Kady M.

You are missing my point.

First, I have made no judgment on the alleged chemical attacks. At this stage, I advocate nothing but thorough investigation.

Second, in the case of demonstrable atrocities perpetrated in any country, regardless of sovereignty issues, the world must respond with the end of stopping those atrocities. I think of Serbia, but also Rwanda — but there are other cases. Caitlin Johnstone in her article held the position that sovereignty is an inviolable principle that trumps (still a useful word!) all others.

I argue that sovereignty is a concept that is negated by gross violation of human rights — death camps, for example, or any systematic process of extermination of groups of people. In these cases, the moral world must intervene. People must be rescued from an unjust and horrific fate. That is a moral obligation. We are not allowed to do nothing.

Syria. Again, did Assad attack civilians w. poison gas? I don’t know. But as per the principle above, if that did happen, some retaliation is justified. I wrote, “If any country had the power to remove Assad for above reasons it should.” But I followed that with this: “But what complicates matters is the inevitable deeper level of bloodshed and destruction caused by that venture.” And then this: “We are in a difficult moral stalemate. We want Assad removed from Syria, yet at the same time doing so could lead to worse atrocities. It is complicated.”

This is essentially in agreement with what you wrote. Morally, it is desirable that Assad be removed from office, but the logistics are possibly too high a price. This is the complexity of the problem. It is not as simple as Ms. Johnstone believes.

What I wrote does not call for immediate action. But it does assert a principle that is not alway workable: if the world or anyone can stop the killing of civilians they should — but not at the expense of greater slaughter.

Finally, regardless of the status of the chemical use in Syria, Assad’s practices reflected in the Amnesty report referenced in my original response have permanently deligitimized him. Eventually he must be held accountable for those crimes just as the Nazis were held responsible for theirs.