Zhang Ning/Xinhua Press/Corbis
United Nations envoy Kofi Annan called on "everyone with a gun" in Syria to respect his cease-fire plan, following the massacre of more than 100 villagers, including dozens of women and children, in Houla. Annan met Tuesday with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose regime denied responsibility for the killings. The U.N. Security Council condemned the escalating atrocities, which U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said could increase the chance of foreign military intervention. Is it time to use force to push Assad out of power?
Using force is the only way: "We gave diplomacy a chance," says James Traub at Foreign Policy, but we must accept that it has failed. It's time to jump into the fight on the side of the rebels. The U.S., Turkey, and Gulf states should give the Free Syrian Army the training ground, logistical support, and weapons it needs to win. If we keep "hiding behind Kofi Annan's skirts," foreign jihadists will hijack the uprising and "the chances of creating an unarguably better Syria" will evaporate.
"Enough talking, Kofi"
Diplomacy is still the best option: It's understandable that the pressure for an intervention would increase after a tragedy like Houla, says Gideon Rachman at Britain's Financial Times, but diplomacy is still better than bombs. After Iraq, the U.S. is "rightly very wary of intervening anywhere," and after Libya, Russia is worried that any U.N. Security Council action will spiral out of control. It's better to use the "moral outrage" over Houla to get Russia to join the diplomatic push to oust Assad.
"For Syria, diplomacy still beats bombs"
Houla won't change anything: Sometimes a massacre can be a "game changer," says Tim Marshall at Sky News, but Syria isn't Kosovo, or Libya. The U.S. and other foreign powers know that attacking Assad's military, well-stocked with Russian weapons, will be as risky as it was to enter Iraq. So instead of doing something, everyone will pursue the same "ghastly, tragic, and deadly game," pretending that Annan's peace plan isn't actually "dead in the sand."
"Analysis: Syria massacre is no game changer"