From a reader with a lot of experience in politics and negotiation, following this post earlier today: It's odd that the choice seems to be framed as airstrikes vs. do nothing.

September 8, 2013

It's a June night in Kinshasa, and rapper JB Mpiana's weekly VIP bash is just starting to heat up. Toned groupies splash like mermaids in a sunken pool. Middle-aged businessmen perch on the ledge above to watch. A minute before midnight, JB runs onstage among a huge posse of gyrating dancers in sunglasses. He rips into some of his biggest hits; a bombastic performer, he glides across the stage with a beefy grace, dressed in a hunter-orange jumpsuit and matching cap.

The background of the Syrian conflict can seem obscure to outsiders, but the spark that started it all is often traced back to the city of Dara'a, in February of 2011. A group of young people writing Arab Spring protest slogans on a wall are arrested and beaten. "When that news broke there was a massive demonstration on the street, and that was the first spark one can call of the Syrian uprising," Nayan Chanda tells NPR's Jacki Lyden.

The video from Kafranbel, a rebel-held village in northern Syria, has been sent by e-mail to members of the United States Congress and posted repeatedly on their Web sites — often in long strings of comments about Syria that have flooded unrelated posts about health care or the openings of new constituent offices.

Just because you should do something doesn't mean you ought to. That might sum up one way of thinking about whether the United States should bomb Syria in response to the horrific chemical weapons attack presumably launched by regime forces against civilians earlier this month.

The Syrian conflict is reaching critical mass. Reports of chemical weapons use by the Syrian government is forcing regional and global leaders, including the United States, to act. The UK parliament just gave an emphatic no to Prime Minister David Cameron's proposal for military intervention. Lines of varying color have been drawn and naval ships are on standby. Oh, and Russia is being Russia. So what are President Obama's options?

A Facebook post said to be written by the 11-year-old son of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, and “liked” or commented on by several people who appear to be the children and grandchildren of other senior members of Mr. Assad’s government, may offer a glimpse into the mindset of Syria’s ruling elite as the country braces for a potential Western strike in response to a chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has said he was ready to start negotiating peace with the country's second-largest rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), "as soon as possible". The announcement comes a day after the ELN released a Canadian hostage it had been holding for months, Gernot Wober. Santos hailed the rebels' release and said "the government is ready to start a dialogue with the ELN as soon as possible," in a statement released by his office on Thursday.