We have missed a great opportunity by standing aside while the war in Syria rages on. Admittedly, we do not know what group to support nor what the country will be like after Bashar al-Assad has left, as he surely will.

I think that our action should not be based on our hopes for who will replace Assad, because we do not seem to be able to control that part of the outcome. But we can dramatically influence the speed of Assad's demise. And by doing this we gain considerable credibility in the Arab world.

We cannot afford to be accused by the anti-American factions in the Muslim world of being indifferent to the plight of Muslims and willing to stand idly by while they are slaughtered. Although the resultant power vacuum may be filled with forces not to our liking, this would happen whether or not we actively participate.

By hastening the demise of the Assad regime, we will save countless lives, considerable property and much future distress in the lives of the survivors. The sooner the conflict is over, the better opportunity we have to control the weapons of mass destruction that it appears Assad has, and that is extremely important. Now is the time for action. Waiting can be disastrous.