History will have the final say — as it always does — on whether U.S. President Barack Obama made the right call to hold his fire on Syria.
At the present, though, we’re confident he made the right call.
This past weekend’s U.S.-Russia deal to secure chemical weapons in Syria is a solid victory for diplomacy over bombs, and pushes the military policies of George W. Bush farther back in the rearview mirror.
And while Obama deserves kudos for restraint, it’s still unlikely he will sleep better knowing that the Syrian crisis persists, and that the death toll — already at 100,000 in less than three years under President Bashar Assad — is likely to climb.
Coupled with a UN report that finds “convincing evidence” that chemicals were indeed used to kill Syrians in mid-August, it quickly becomes clear Obama is walking a fine line between diplomacy and war.
That’s the bigger picture. The smaller picture portrays a balancing act between strength and weakness. While the crisis has softened due to Russia’s help, Obama still must be prepared to act if there’s hesitation by Syria to secure its chemical weapons.
It’s a serious matter that must be dealt with at the slightest flinch by Assad and his regime. Chemical warfare is serious business —war-crime serious.
As UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council on Monday, the use of chemical arms in Syria is “the most significant confirmed use of chemical weapons against civilians since Saddam Hussein used them” and “the worst use of weapons of mass destruction in the 21st century.”
For now, we hope the diplomatic move will mean lives will be saved, but we also hope that if Syria changes its tune, Obama will follow through immediately with an attack in the same pursuit of saving lives.
The U.S. warned Sunday that “the threat of force is real” if Damascus fails to carry out the plan to secure its chemical weapons. The world is counting on Obama to back that threat when it’s needed most.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.