After months of seeming detachment from the civil war in Syria, President Barack Obama this week announced a strategy of increasing support for the remaining moderate opposition to Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad. The president also implied that he would use force if necessary to allow access for humanitarian aid.
"We still have a horrendous situation on the ground in Syria," President Obama correctly said Tuesday in a joint White House news conference with French President Francois Hollande.
Mr. Obama was also right when he said the tragic situation in Syria was a threat to the security of American allies - and even to the United States itself. He explained that's the case because "there are extremists who have moved into the vacuum in certain portions of Syria in a way that could threaten us over the long term."
The two presidents still stressed diplomacy. However, they also hinted that if relief to millions of suffering Syrians is blocked, force might be necessary. And they promised further help to the moderate Syrian opposition while urging Russia not to block a proposed United Nations resolution calling on the warring parties to allow humanitarian relief operations to proceed.
President Obama, in response to a question, said: "Right now we don't think that there is a military solution, per se, to the problem. But the situation is fluid, and we are continuing to explore every possible avenue to solve this problem, because it's not just heartbreaking to see what's happening to the Syrian people, it's very dangerous for the region as a whole."
President Obama has long advocated Mr. Assad's ouster, but ample assistance from Russia and Iran has allowed the brutal ruler to maintain power despite a widespread rebellion that began nearly three years ago.
And increased infiltration of the rebel movement by forces affiliated with al-Qaida is obviously a troubling trend.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Armed Forces Committee Tuesday that opposition forces number between 75,000 and 115,000, including some 7,500 foreign extremists.
They are opposed by around 200,000 government forces that have committed large-scale atrocities. And though the Syrian military has experienced mass defections, it retains dominant air power - and is still blocking humanitarian add.
Meanwhile, Russia keeps blocking U.N. resolutions aimed at facilitating humanitarian relief.
Still, the united front President Obama and President Hollande presented Tuesday did provide some hope, albeit limited, that the world hasn't forgotten about the continuing carnage in Syria.
And at some point, maybe global leaders, including President Obama, will even find a way - and the resolve - to end that bloodbath.
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