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The Boston Globe

Opinion

NICHOLAS BURNS

Response is fundamental to a world of civility and justice

Whether you agree or disagree, President Obama’s surprising decision to ask Congress to authorize the use of force against Syria was last weekend’s question. Now that the Senate has launched a vigorous debate, the vital question is whether the United States will respond to the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians.

From a foreign policy perspective, the decision isn’t even close — the United States must act by attacking President Bashar Assad’s air force, artillery, and command and control assets within Syria. The goal is to intimidate him, degrade his military capacity, and deter him from ever using these weapons again. There are risks, to be sure, in any use of force. But this will not be another Iraq — the United States will not put ground troops into Syria. And the risks are even greater if we do nothing.

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