They are questions asked many times since the Syria violence began: When will it stop? What can the U.S. and international community do? What options are left?
Stephen Hadley, former White House national security adviser for George W. Bush and now a senior adviser for the U.S. Institute of Peace, weighs in.
CNN: If you were sitting in the White House today and you were seeing the pictures of violence, you would be outraged. Is the legal question enough to stop intervention (the fact that there's no resolution from the U.N. Security Council nor any invitation from the Arab League)? At what point does the president of the United States, a prime minister of the U.K. or a president of France have to say, "I don't care, I have to stop this?"
HADLEY: He has to be willing to do that. We went into Bosnia, as you know, without a U.N. Security Council resolution.
It would be helpful to have the Arab League, to have neighborhood countries on board with us, because it will make effective whatever we decide to do. But the president of the United States has to make a decision of what is in U.S. interest. You know if you go to the U.N., you are going to get a Russia/Chinese veto. That isn't an option.
I think the question is, what is in the interests of the United States? What do we need to do in that region? And I think the answer is becoming clear.
CNN: Is this massacre enough to be a turning point? There are some who say, well, the Russians signed on to the Kofi Annan mission. Now that it is clearly failing, maybe they will feel some moral imperative to take it to a next step. Do you have any reason to believe the Russians will do anything significant?
HADLEY: I don't think so. And I think it's not just the massacre, as terrible as the loss of life has been. It's also what's happening in that country as long as President Bashar al-Assad stays there.
Many people say, if we intervene, it is going to cause sectarian violence to spread in the region. It's getting to the point if we don't intervene in some way, there is going to be sectarian violence. It is descending into sectarian violence.
And that sectarian violence runs the risk of pitting Sunni against Shia in Lebanon, in Jordan, in Iraq, maybe even in Turkey itself. So it's getting to the point that if we don't do something more decisive, it will plunge the region into instability and sectarian violence. And that would be a tragedy.
CNN: What would it take? Intelligence sources say there are 24, 26 potential sites inside Syria where they have weapons of mass destruction. People at the Pentagon, if you talked to allied government, they would say at a minimum 75,000 boots on the ground were needed to secure those sites, to have reasonable safety. Is that right?
HADLEY: Boots on the ground is not the only option. ... What we need to do is we need to pull the pillars that remain supporting the al-Assad regime — the military, the minority groups like the Alawites and the Christians, and business community — and we need to pull them away from the regime.
What's going to do that? We need a Syrian National Council and an opposition movement that is assumed by the international community, that has a cross-sectarian message. I believe we need to begin arming those groups within Syria that will support that cross-sectarian message.
And, finally, I think the United States is at the point where we need to prepare for some kind of intervention. That doesn't necessarily mean boots on the ground. People have talked about no-fly zones, no-drive zones, areas where the opposition could congregate and train. I think we have to prepare that.
I'm reluctant to say it: I think we have to prepare for it. One, we might need it and, two, the act of preparation, figuring out what operationally we can do, getting support in the region, may actually help tip the military, the business community and the minorities to decide, "We're going to go down with al-Assad [so] we better be part of a new Syria."
- This interview originally appeared on "JKUSA"