A few weeks ago, I met a friend from Damascus for coffee. He had just arrived from Syria a few weeks earlier, and I was curious to hear how he was adjusting to life in the United States.
We had been talking for about half an hour when our conversation turned back to what my friend had left behind in Syria. And as my neighbors walked by our local coffeeshop en route home from work on a lovely spring day in Washington, my friend related to me in graphic detail how, last summer, he had been arrested, detained and repeatedly tortured for three days by the security services of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
There are many things we cannot know about the Assad regime, and I have made it a point in this column to call attention to the fog of uncertainty through which U.S. policymakers must consider their options in the Middle East. One thing we know for certain, though, is that the regime in Damascus can now be counted among the most brutal on Earth. The events of the past year have demonstrated the disregard the Syrian government has for its people, which explains why such a broad coalition of nations has called for Assad to step down and why military options to force him to do so have been weighed.