Watching Syria fall apart is a very difficult to do. The human impact is staggering - 8 million people displaced, 4 million refugees having left the country, children washing up to shore, and not even knowing much about those who remain. The political ramifications are equally distressing - a barbaric regime, an even worse gang of criminals , incompetent moderates, regional strife between two large neighbors, and now Russia with its own agenda.

I hear a lot of tough talk coming from the Republican candidates for President and Congressional leaders. And more bombast from retired military brass about the need for the United States to show leadership, to commit more heavily to fighting ISIS, and the get rid of Syrian President Assad. But how?

So I would like readers to send me proposals on how best to achieve those ends - or at least some of them. Proposals have to address the following objectives:

  1. Whether or not American boots should be placed on the ground? If so, how many and in what capacity? Please use figures that will comply both with what is necessary to defeat ISIS and how best to address an American public that does not support it.
  2. How many troops, how much spending, and how many US personnel must be utilized in order to train moderate forces in Syria? Those who propose should be able to address the history of similar situations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and - for that matter - Vietnam.
  3. In addition to ensuring support from Syrians, please make the case for winning the support for a strong military presence in Syria - if your proposal includes this - among younger Arabs throughout the region.
  4. How long will it take for the US to achieve victory? And please describe what victory looks like.
  5. Please outline an exit strategy or whether, like the DMZ in Korea, US troops will have to be stationed in Syria permanently.
  6. Will the US be involved in nation-building? If so, how will this be any different from civil and governmental capacity in Iraq or Afghanistan?
  7. Finally, how does the US square tough talk militarily and the assertion of US power with people - both friendly and not so friendly - in the broader region?

Public opinion is split on the issue of US engagement in Syria. Americans are certainly struck by the horrific human impact but deeply concerned about how engagement or lack of engagement affects the national interest. They are equally concerned about the cost to lives and taxpayers about another venture with no clear outcome. They are worried about long term engagements with no end in sight. And they certainly do care about this country's image in the region. Democrats and Republicans do not agree. Voters under 50 are much less likely to agree to engagement than older voters.

If, as some argue, the US has to assert its authority and exercise some might so as to gain international respect, then the questions outlined above need to be addressed. I welcome the proposals.