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Does 'punishment' that doesn't harm Assad serve a purpose?

To The Daily Sun,
President Obama wants to "punish" Syrian President Assad for allegedly gassing his own people. But, will Obama's stated actions, which don't include regime change, really punish Assad, or will they more likely harm innocent people including foreigners, diplomats, or even Americans?
Has "punishment" that doesn't actually harm a nation's leaders ever resulted in policy changes? Not that I know about. If Assad falls and radical Islamists take over his gas stockpiles, the U.S. and the world are in greater danger than now.
President Obama and news sources allied with the rebels say Assad released the poison gas although they haven't explained his motive for this militarily unnecessary action. Assad, independent media, and a Russian study says the rebels (which include al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and people who butcher captives) released the gas, perhaps hoping to blame Assad and dupe the U.S. into helping them defeat Assad.
If the evidence of Assad's guilt is strong, why can't President Obama easily get a large coalition of nations to join his "punishment" efforts?
The benefits of President Obama's proposed actions against Syria seem miniscule. The possible negatives seem abundant: killing innocent people, damaging property of innocent parties, inciting military or economic retaliation by Syria or its allies increasing prices of oil and other goods, weakening our currency, and creating more terrorists who attack Americans, maybe with poison gas or other weapons of mass destruction.
While there seems little benefit from rushing to "punish" Assad, there are many benefits from delaying or not acting. We can await a thorough and factual investigation of the poison gas release. We save U.S. resources, avoid killing innocent people or damaging their property, we avoid inciting retaliation, and we avoid taking ineffective actions that make us look weak.
Delay offers the added benefit of allowing two U.S. enemies spend their resources, weaken each other, and become reduced threats to others.
Don Ewing
Meredith

 
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