Fox News has an opinion piece from K.T. McFarland that the President has "only" five choices. The include regime change, limited attack, arm the rebels, destroy the chemical weapons (with magic bombs of our own the neutralize the chemical agents or send in special ops to take them out), and delay and do something symbolic like allow Keystone pipeline to be built (I am not joking on this. She seriously is trying to use the crisis in Syria to justify the Keystone pipeline.)
I don't think that those are the only options. David Newquist suggests that the US should shame Assad and make sure he is called a war criminal and brought up before the ICC. The problem is I don't think that this would work on any level. The ICC point is also moot since it would require going through China and Russia in the United Nations.
As Syria is not a party to the Statute of the International Criminal Court, the ICC will only have jurisdiction over events in Syria if there is a Security Council referral (Arts 12 & 13, ICC Statute). If the Council were to refer the situation in Syria, it is possible that attacks involving the use of chemical weapons may be prosecuted as part of a charge of crimes against humanity or as part of the war crime of intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population. In such a case, the use of chemical weapons would not form part of the core of the charge but would simply be the means by which the attack has taken place.Russia seems to be the sticking point for a lot of the problems in trying to find an alternative method of dealing with Syria. This quote best sums up the whole Russia problem
Russia, it is regularly argued, remains stubbornly supportive of the Assad regime. Russia has supplied Syria with “advanced missiles” and has consistently protected Assad from assertive action by the Security Council. In July, the Russian government suggested that it was the rebels who had used chemical weapons in their fight against the regime. In emergency meetings where the Council discussed how to respond to the alleged chemical weapons attack, Russia maintained that videos showing civilians suffering from the effects of chemical agents was a “premeditated provocation” and was likely fabricated by Syria’s rebel forces. This was in line with the response of the Syrian regime.However, as the article from above points out, this is not just a Russia problem. A whole lot of people are weary after the Iraq conflict to take any potentially significant, hostile action. I believe basing our hopes on shaming a person that has already demonstrated that he is willing to use chemical weapons on his own people while biting his thumb at the rest of the world is not a person that can be shamed.
I think Obama and the rest of the world/United States has ruled out regime change. If that was a viable choice, it would have happened about one year ago. That would be to much of an Iraq scenario all over again. I think we can also rule out magical anti-chemical bombs and building a pipeline to deal with the Syrian problem. (I still can't believe that was offered as a suggestion.)
There was one other option that was not directly brought up: Do Nothing. This is becoming more and more the voice of those opposed to action in Syria: "Do nothing." This is a failed approach because do nothing communicates acceptance. If I witness a mother beating on her children I should not turn away from such action, but instead I am obliged to act. In the end, it may not stop future action by the parent, but to say that this is not my problem or my family, condones the action.
I think that a Washington Post editorial sums up the crux of the problem:
Some ask why the United States should care about 1,400 deaths from gassing when more than 100,000 have died in Syria’s war. We’re among those who believe the administration should have done more, short of boots on the ground, to forestall those deaths, and we believe that any military action should be part of a strategy to influence the war’s outcome.
But these deaths are different. A line has been crossed; if there are no consequences, it will be crossed again. Someday U.S. soldiers on a battlefield could be the victim of the resulting impunity. If the United States does not ensure that Syria faces consequences for crossing the line, no one will, and the U.S. response should be strong enough to prevent Mr. Assad from committing further atrocities....I would love for everyone that claims that military action should not be used to present a viable option (please no Keystone pipelines suggestions) that will have the possibility of communicating to Assad and others that the use of chemical weapons are not acceptable behavior in this world.