, Salem, MA


September 13, 2013

Watson: Syria has halted its use of gas


For now, we are accepting Assad’s rule. For now, we are not picking winners among the insurgent groups. For now, we are not interested in American military involvement in Syria. And we hold as a goal not doing anything to enlarge the war — especially beyond Syria’s borders.

So, it looks like we’re where we want to be — which also is only where we can be. For now, we have accomplished all that it is possible for us to accomplish. It may not feel good to have not accomplished more, to have not “punished” Assad, or deposed him, or aided the rebels in Syria who would install a pluralistic, representative democracy. But those are not our goals, and they are well beyond our control, in any event.

Even though for now we are abstaining from military intervention, we do have a dog in this fight, and that is our common humanity and the necessity of crafting ways for all of us to live on a small and shrinking planet. Achieving that goal will probably become harder and harder. Witnessing Syria, where tens of thousands more deaths will almost surely occur, is an excruciating thing to do.


Brian T. Watson is a Salem News columnist. Contact him at

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