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The 51 dissenters articulated points that have been employed repeatedly by senior officials of the United States government, the governments of allies and friends, and even the United Nations over the last several years: that the challenge of Syria is such that a policy deliberately and publicly setting aside the credible threat of military force is worse than useless; it actively encourages parties neck-deep in war crimes and crimes against humanity to do their absolute worst; it is a leverage-free approach offering nothing approaching an "or else".When the Assad regime – enthusiastically enabled by Russia and Iran – implements a civilian-centric policy of collective punishment and mass homicide, it does more than create a humanitarian abomination. Supporters of administration policy are free to examine the actual, documented behaviors of Russia, Iran and the Assad regime and argue that diplomatic progress toward favorable outcomes is likely without the credible threat of American military force lurking in the background to protect civilians from mass slaughter.Indeed, the administration and supporters of its Syria policy are perfectly free to employ an army of straw men to mow down with impressive, and seeming cost-free efficiency.
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