Syria Can Be Resolved by International Action

The world community possesses the ability to end the abominable war in Syria. The only question is whether it possesses the will to do it.

The path to peace exists. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad would step down, an interim government would be instituted, a framework for a new permanent government would be negotiated that adequately protected the minority Alawite population, and a transition to democratic elections would be implemented.

In the meantime, a ceasefire must be imposed immediately. It is time for the international community to consider sending an overwhelming military force into Syria that would stop the violence and keep the peace until a new government could be formed. And if Mr. Assad refused to go peaceably, then he would be removed forcibly.

With a ceasefire in effect for the war, the terrorist groups within Syria would be much easier to identify and confront. Indeed, the reason the terrorist groups have flocked to Syria is specifically due to the chaos created by Mr. Assad's war.

As we know from the 1.4 million refugees estimated to pour into Europe, this problem is not contained to just Syria. It is a problem for the world. And it increasingly looks like the world will be required to end it.

Unfortunately, however, this path to peace has a significant obstacle: Putin.

The president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, insists that Mr. Assad remain in power. The reason is that Syria has been a longstanding ally of Russia, and Mr. Putin does not wish to lose one of the few remaining countries in Russia's grasp. To preserve his outpost in the Middle East, Mr. Putin has permitted Mr. Assad to engage in the brutal suppression and mass killing of his own Syrian people.

After all, this is how the war in Syria began. It started in response to the Arab Spring movement of peaceful protests of children and citizens marching in the streets to express their displeasure with the brutal reign of Mr. Assad's dictatorship. Mr. Assad responded to the peaceful protests with bullets, barrel bombs, and chemical weapons.

Mr. Putin claims that he desires order and stability, and thus that the "legitimate" government of Mr. Assad should be supported and strengthened. This is absurd. The Assad regime lost all legitimacy when it waged war upon its own civilians. Such atrocities must not be tolerated.

Mr. Putin points to Iraq and Libya as evidence of why brutal dictators should not be removed from power. While it is true that Iraq and Libya shamefully descended into chaos after their leaders fell, this does not mean that brutal dictators should be coddled. Instead, the international community must do more after dictators fall to establish adequate institutions in their place.

The chaos in Iraq and Libya must not cause the world to give up on the pursuit of justice.

With respect to Syria, the world attempted to put an end to the bloodshed in 2012 with a resolution at the United Nations, largely proposed by the Arab League, for ending the violence. But Russia vetoed this resolution.

At the time, Susan Rice, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, said she was "disgusted" by Russia's veto, and that Russia would have "blood on its hands" for the violence in Syria that would ensue.

But this veto stymied the world, and paved the way for Mr. Assad's war.

And now here we are, three years later. Three years of devastation and war in Syria. Over 300,000 people have been killed, over 12 million people are in need of immediate life-saving aid, over 7 million Syrian civilians have been forced from their homes as internal refugees, and over 4 million more have fled the country. Over half of the entire Syrian population is in disarray.

Some commentators have suggested that Mr. Putin is a hero for recently proposing that we really should seek a solution for peace in Syria. A hero? A crusader for peace? Is this a joke?

This turns reality completely on its head. Mr. Putin is the guy who vetoed peace three years ago and caused all of this devastation in the first place. It is difficult to view Mr. Putin as a profit for peace when his hands are covered with the blood of war.

A major reason for this entire protracted conflict is Mr. Putin's intractable support for his dictator Mr. Assad. In fact, Mr. Putin could end this whole ordeal right now in an instant by dropping his demand that Mr. Assad remain in power, as Mr. Assad could not survive without the backing of Russia.

But no. Mr. Putin has been perfectly willing to allow the ravages of war to devastate millions of innocent Syrian people all so he could keep his dictator in place. This is hardly the act of a hero.

And now Russia has begun bombing inside of Syria. Yes, this is the same Russia that vetoed the peace plan in order to protect Mr. Assad.

Russia claims that its targets are terrorists, but evidence suggests otherwise. Russia bombed an area that is not controlled by terrorists. Instead, Russia bombed Homs, which is the heart of the moderate rebels who first began the uprising against the dictator Mr. Assad.

So it seems that Mr. Putin is using to his advantage the confusion caused by the presence of ISIS and terrorists inside of Syria to conceal Mr. Putin's true objective of assisting his dictator Mr. Assad by bombing the legitimate rebels.

It is indeed quite a bold move by Mr. Putin to veto the peace plan and then begin bombing the legitimate rebels to aid Mr. Assad.

But there is good reason for Mr. Putin to feel emboldened. After all, with relative impunity, he was shockingly able to invade and occupy Crimea, and also able to effectively carve-out the eastern portion of Ukraine as a Russian satellite.

The situation in Syria is quickly becoming a proxy war fueled by Russia and Iran backing the Assad regime, and Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar backing the rebel fighters. For the sake of the innocent civilians, this madness must end.

The central question is whether the international community cares enough about the devastation to stop it.

There is only one way to find out.

The Obama Administration should assemble a simple plan for ending the war through international intervention and propose it to the world. Let each member of the international community stand up and be counted.

Who knows? Maybe the world does care about its innocent citizens.