So here’s a three-track strategy for Syria going forward:
• Negotiate with Moscow on removal of Syrian chemical weapons and insist on conditions to ensure we’re not being played, including immediate disclosure to the United Nations of chemical weapons stockpiles, a binding Security Council resolution confirming the deal, a reference in the resolution to “serious consequences” for noncompliance, and immediate installation of camera monitors on at least a few locations.
• Groundwork in Congress to authorize a limited missile strike if Syria does not comply, partly to retain leverage with Moscow.
• Expansion of efforts to arm and support moderate Syrian rebels, accompanied by covert cyberwarfare on the Syrian regime, to try to change the momentum on the ground.
Ultimately, that’s the best hope to coerce President Bashar al-Assad to step down so that all sides can try to reach a cease-fire and power-sharing agreement. Yet if we’re going to sustain the pressure, we have to address these fundamental questions: Can we really promote peace with military force? Is it possible to help a country by bombing it?