John McCain says the US should take the lead, but not unilaterally, in defending Syrian civilians by initiating airstrikes against Assad’s brutal military. From a Buddhist perspective, I normally prefer the pacifistic approach. On the other hand, it is most certainly legitimate to defend innocents by attacking and even killing those who would kill them. The question is whether US led airstrikes is the the way to do that. With the memory of the world failing to stop the bloodshed in Rwanda, it is clear something needs to be done. To assert that eventually Assad will fall, as the Obama administration is publicly stating while no doubt working behind the scenes to make that happen sooner, is not enough. China and Russia prevent UN Security Council action. But stopping Assad doesn’t have to be a UN sponsored activity. What it does need to be is a regionally led, preferably Arab, response. The US can supply arms, planes and especially humanitarian aid. But it can’t take the lead. If it does, it invites Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to play too large a role in a subsequent government. They are already there, among the rebels, according to many intelligence sources. They may not be the core of rebels, but they are a part of a multifaceted group opposed to Assad.