Click photo to enlarge
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) (C) talks to members of the media after a members-only closed briefing on Syria for the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives September 6, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. U.S. President Barack Obama will address the American people on Syria from the White House on Tuesday. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

As our nation desperately gropes to craft a "proper" response to the use of illegal chemical weapons in Syria, several things have become abundantly clear to us.

To wit:

  • When drawing future threatening "red lines" about international conduct, it would be a good idea to have planned our nation's course of action before said lines were announced or crossed.

  • More than being merely war-weary, Americans also are war-wary, especially when taking any international action that relies heavily on "clear and decisive" intelligence reports.

  • The refusal of Great Britain to join a military effort is evidence of another nation -- a staunch ally, no less -- that has been there and been burned by said intelligence.

  • Any U.S. response against Syria must consider the significant impact it is likely to have on vital allies, especially Israel, Jordan and Turkey.

  • A regime change in Syria, while seemingly the most desirable outcome, could result in greater chaos, a la Egypt, and could even allow Syria's stash of chemical weapons to fall into the hands of al-Qaida, a chilling thought, indeed.

  • President Barack Obama did the right thing by going to Congress -- and, by extension, to the nation. It might be risky politically, but, to the extent that it is possible, this discussion must transcend politics.

    Taken together and in context, the above items ensure that choosing our nation's course regarding Syria is neither a slam dunk nor without risk. All realistic options, including doing nothing at all, carry their own set of perils.

    It seems clear to us that the United States -- and most of the world, really -- is struggling to find the least worst option here.

    Pundits and politicians who offer trite, bumper-sticker solutions should be eschewed and marginalized. Better yet, anyone without something constructive to inform this national debate should just sit this one out. Naive statements such as, "we shouldn't be the world's policeman" or, "we should bomb Assad back to the stone age," simply do not reflect a nuanced understanding of the Middle East or the world.

    Likewise, our national ego must be checked at the door. This is not some macho action movie or a suspense thriller. It is real life where any and all actions taken by the U.S. have real and dangerous consequences. And real lives of real people are at stake.

    It is time for the sober and serious adults, assuming there are any left in Washington, to be thoughtful, collaborative and to speak to each other and the public without the aid of ideological, think-tank talking points or for partisan gain. This decision is far too important and far-reaching for anything less.