It would be great for us to stop the violence in Syria, but America needs big vision humanitarianism.

The most moral foreign policy is the one that is grounded in a serious, long-term strategic view of where the world is headed, what the principal dangers are, and how the United States can preserve and develop its own strength and prosperity so as to do what needs to be done on the international scene.

In Syria that means helping grease the skids for Assad, more because it weakens and isolates Iran and undermines Hezbollah than because Butcher Assad is a vicious and bloodthirsty tyrant. A moment could come in which military intervention with the right partners and under the right circumstances would make sense, but it looks as if Assad's growing weakness will spare us from having to make that decision. Preventing a US-Iranian war is a humane and appropriate goal for our foreign policy, and driving the mullahs away from the Mediterranean could help get that done.

In other places a humane and moral foreign policy means doing different things. It means maintaining civil and open relationships with governments in China and Saudi Arabia, for example, despite our instinctive moral distaste for much that those governments do. The moral vigilantes call this hypocrisy, but this kind of behavior is a necessary part of making life better for people all over the world, including Americans.

The best-looking option right now doesn't always produce the best long-term results. This is painful to acknowledge when thousands of innocent people are being slaughtered by vicious murderers.

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