I’m not entirely sure why this is such a difficult topic to write about, but here it goes. I think it might have to do with the fact that there are hundreds of Syrian people dying every day, and there are over 1.5 million refugees since the Syrian civil war began. Or it could be that the deadliest month for civilians in Syria has surpassed the deadliest month of the Iraqi conflict, and Bashar al-Assad is systematically eradicating Sunni Muslims from the suburbs of Syria’s largest cities with ‘clear and hold’ operations. The list could go on and on, which is why this is a topic of such importance and yet so difficult to discuss.

The American public essentially has a black eye from the Iraq-Afghanistan combo of soldiers lost/wounded and money spent. The sad part of those two aforementioned wars is that there are people who have political power in our country who are more concerned with where the decimal is placed on our national debt than the value of human life. I believe life, above all, should be our guiding light in making political decisions, but unfortunately, that opinion is not fully shared by the masses.

The KEY ingredient in our decision-making should be human life. Whether it be U.S., Syrian or the opposition, how do we simultaneously protect the innocent and neutralize the enemy? Like it or not, we are the so-called ‘watch dog’ of the world. If we don’t do anything, nothing will be done and the value of human life will be negated. Am I saying we should willingly sacrifice thousands of U.S. soldiers? No, but at some point and time a situation becomes so shitty that something must be done.

Since the Syrian Civil war began, I have changed my opinion on the matter at least four or five times. I think this is because the truth of what is really going on over there is so convoluted, it seems impossible to really know who is bad, who is good and who has their hand in this game (and for what reasons). Someone who may seem like your friend could the next week turn around and become your enemy.

I used to think that we should do nothing–let them tear each other apart and the world will be a better place. I have since changed my opinion, and believe that we need a combination of the options below. Nonetheless, I don’t think Washington really cares about my opinion.

Recently, General Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff wrote a three page letter to Carl Levin, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, concerning what possible actions the U.S. could initiate in or around Syria.

1. Train, Advise, and Assist the Opposition

This option uses nonlethal forces to train and advise the opposition on tasks ranging from weapons employment to tactical planning. We could also offer assistance in the form of intelligence and logistics. The scale could range from several hundred to several thousand troops with the costs varying accordingly, but estimated at $500 million per year initially. The option requires safe areas outside Syria as well as support from our regional partners. Over time, the impact would be the improvement of opposition capabilities. Risks include extremists gaining access to additional capabilities, retaliatory cross-border attacks, and insider attacks or inadvertent association with war crimes due to vetting difficulties.