With Putin Bombing Rebels, Should Obama Bomb Assad?

Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, is making trouble. Big trouble.

The United States has been leading a military coalition of some 60 countries in conducting bombing missions inside of Syria against terrorist groups such as ISIS.

At the same time, a revolutionary war has been underway in Syria of the legitimate rebels seeking to depose the brutal dictator, Bashar al-Assad, the President of Syria, and Mr. Assad fighting back and seeking to crush the rebels. This revolutionary war all began as part of the Arab Spring when peaceful protestors were met by Mr. Assad's brutal response of bullets, barrel bombs, and chemical weapons. These peaceful protestors have now become the rebels in the revolutionary war against Mr. Assad.

The purpose of the U.S.-backed coalition has been limited to fighting terrorists inside Syria and has not been to assist either side in the revolutionary war, neither the rebels nor Mr. Assad.

Then Mr. Putin recently came along and said he desired to help fight the terrorists in Syria. Great. The more help fighting terrorists the better. So Russia began building-up military assets in the area. But Russia did not join the coalition of 60 countries fighting the terrorist. Instead, Russia operated separately. When Russia began bombing a few days ago, however, it did not bomb terrorists, but instead Russia began bombing the rebels who are fighting against Mr. Assad.


The international coalition objected to Russia's bombing of the rebels. Russia responded by saying that it is merely fighting terrorists and that everyone other than Mr. Assad's forces are all terrorists, including the rebels.

So it turns out that Mr. Putin's objective is not just to fight against terrorists, but instead, Mr. Putin is seeking to intervene in Syria's revolutionary war to prop-up the dictator Mr. Assad by crushing the rebels. The reason for this is that the dictator Mr. Assad in Syria has been a longstanding ally to Russia, so Mr. Putin is seeking to reestablish Mr. Assad's brutal regime.

Yikes. Mr. Putin's action poses a big problem. Mr. Putin has just escalated the war inside Syria by intervening on behalf of the Assad regime.

This is exactly the reason that the United Stated has resisted arming the rebels in the past. The United Stated did not wish to escalate the war. But Mr. Putin does not seem to care.

So what does this mean for the United States? With Russia helping Mr. Assad by bombing the rebels, should the United States help the rebels by bombing Mr. Assad?

Bombing Mr. Assad has a strong appeal. It is a natural response. We wish to stop the aggression of Mr. Putin. One way to stop the aggression is to fight back to show the aggressor that he cannot win through aggression.

But fighting back with aggression by bombing Mr. Assad has its own problems. This would constitute an escalation of the war even further.

If the United States behaved like Russia and intervened in the war on behalf of the rebels, this would lead to a full-scale proxy war. Russia would soon increase its military actions on behalf of Mr. Assad. The United States would then increase its military actions on behalf of the rebels. And on and on. The war would become worse and worse, and the death and destruction would be appalling.

Pretty soon, the war would no longer be between Mr. Assad and the rebels. Instead, it would become a war between the United States and Russia.

This is where the path leads of escalating the war and engaging in a proxy war. The first step down this path has just been taken by Mr. Putin. But this is the wrong direction.

An escalated war between the United States and Russia would have devastating consequences for the entire world.

So the President of the United States, Barack Obama, should not escalate this war. Mr. Obama should not intervene on behalf of the rebels, and he should not start bombing Mr. Assad.

Does this mean that there will be no adverse consequences to Mr. Putin, and therefore that his reckless aggression will be rewarded?

No. There must be consequences for Mr. Putin's aggression, and the consequences must be severe.

The consequences must come from the world. The nations of the world must stand together and unite against this aggression. The world must demonstrate that military aggression is not the way that humanity solves problems in this modern day and age.

Mr. Obama must lead the world in the response to this aggression. The world should develop a devastating set of sanctions against Russia, and allow Russia the opportunity to avoid such sanctions by ceasing its military aggression in Syria. If Russia refuses, then the world must act to isolate Russia.

The world can solve problems of military aggression without engaging in further military aggression. But it requires the world to unite.

In unity, the world possesses the power of peace. It is now time to deploy it.