Monday's third debate between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney focused—or at least was intended to focus—on foreign policy, with a portion of the discourse devoted to the topic of Syria and the ongoing civil war there.
The conflict has killed tens of thousands of civilians and threatens the stability of the region, but neither candidate seemed eager to commit to more U.S. involvement in Syria, though both expressed optimism that the rule of current President Bashar Assad is nearing an end. But as James Van de Velde, lecturer at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Advanced Governmental Studies in Washington, D.C., contends in an op-ed that appeared Tuesday in The Jerusalem Post, the U.S. would be wise to take a more active role.
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The West has no choice but to involve itself in Syria's future. President Obama's passivity only allows Russia and Iran to better influence the ultimate outcome and allies al-Qaida in Syria with the opposition. With no U.S. leadership, the war may degenerate into a human rights nightmare, with a desperate Alawite insurgency armed with chemical and biological weapons.