I will be the first person to admit I don’t know all the background and issues associated with the Syrian conflict. It’s clear to me, however, that the recent deaths of hundreds of civilians by poison gas is a totally unacceptable escalation.

It’s also clear to me that having third parties lob missiles to register their “protest” of that carnage only provides the opportunity to kill more innocent civilians through collateral damage and accomplish little else.

So, what to do? With the country in turmoil and seemingly barely able to function, the United States and its allies clearly want to change (for the better) the existing government. That’s a logical goal for all to embrace.

Is it too much to expect that Syria and its citizens should be able to welcome an alternative to President Bashar al-Assad? With all the reports from that conflict, I’ve not been able to hear the name of even one person who might offer to step in as a substitute. That person needs to be found.

Next, it may be time to crank-up “back channel” efforts at quietly removing al-Assad from power. The Chinese and Russians might be able to offer viable alternatives at spiriting away the president as a gesture toward solution. If that can be arranged, however, it only works if there is an heir-apparent ready to step forward.

The United States still can help police the world, but should the American people ask that we be better at negotiating a good result rather than cracking skulls? For everyone’s sake, let’s try.

F. Gerard Nault, Windsor

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