A couple of years ago, my grandson’s bar mitzvah theme was “Don’t remain indifferent.” It is a theme that resonated when I read Richard Cohen’s spot-on column about President Obama’s steadfast unwillingness — with lame excuses along the way — to face up to the Syrian bloodbath and refugee crisis [“Looking the other way,” op-ed, Feb. 12]. It is a painful reminder of how political opportunism, rather than leadership, can morph into indifference.

In the late 1930s, the State Department (with FDR similarly looking the other way) sided with isolationist legislators to bar the immigration of 20,000 unaccompanied refugee children. Among the objections that State Department witnesses cited to congressional committees was that processing the asylum applications would overwhelm overseas consular personnel.

Britain’s concurrent decision to waive immigration requirements for 10,000 children (myself included) serves as a pretty good example of not remaining indifferent.

In rejecting, say, a Syrian no-fly-zone, the president unfortunately seemed to remain indifferent.

Joel Darmstadter, Bethesda

The Obama administration’s Syria policy seems cleverly designed to ensure that, no matter who wins, they won’t like us.

Barry Crickmer, Winchester, Va.