America’s Syria options considered, by The Onion

The Onion has a piece today from Syrian President Bashar Assad. Of course, it’s not really by Assad. And it’s supposed to be funny, which it is. But it’s also a remarkably cogent analysis of the various bad options President Obama has to choose from in considering how to respond, or not, to the chemical weapons attack last week that killed hundreds near Damascus.

Here’s Bashar’s deconstruction of the consequences of aerial bombing:

Now, personally, I can see how that might seem like an attractive option for you. No boots on the ground, it sends a clear message, you could cripple some of my government’s infrastructure, and it’s a quick, clean, easy way to punish me and make you look strong in the face of my unimaginable tyranny. But let’s get real here. Any bombing campaign capable of being truly devastating to my regime would also end up killing a ton of innocent civilians, as such things always do, which I imagine is the kind of outcome you people would feel very guilty about. You know, seeing as you are so up in arms to begin with about innocent Syrians dying. Plus, you’d stoke a lot of anti-American hatred and quite possibly create a whole new generation of Syrian-born jihadists ready to punish the United States for its reckless warmongering and yadda yadda yadda.

Pretty much on the money.

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Or how about a more limited campaign (the most likely option at the moment, it seems):

Well, you could play small-ball and hope that limited airstrikes to a few of my key military installations will send me the message to refrain from using chemical weapons again, but, c’mon, check me out: I’m ruthless, I’m desperate, and I’m going to do everything I can to stay in power. I’d use chemical weapons again in a heartbeat. You know that. And I know you know that. Hell, I want to help you guys out here, but you gotta be realistic. Trust me, I am incapable of being taught a lesson at this point. Got it? I am too far gone.

I don’t typically look to the Onion for incisive political commentary. But I do sometimes get my news from Daily Show, so perhaps I should.

Ben Harris is JTA’s news editor. In his seven years with JTA, he has reported from more than 15 countries. His writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, New York magazine, among other publications.