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True, killing Assad could have many unforeseen consequences. But the same can be said of any other form of military intervention. It also can be said of nonintervention. If the U.S. does decide to act in Syria, then taking out Assad would at least be the purest way to summon whatever unintended consequences lie in wait.
And, yes, the U.S. has a policy against assassination (last updated by Ronald Reagan, in Executive Order 12333). But President Obama already has explained why he has the legal authority to carry out extrajudicial killings of American citizens abroad. It would be absurd at this point for him to suggest non-citizen dictators deserve any better.
This article originally appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.