Regarding the Sept. 1 front-page article “Syria attack is put on hold”:

President Obama’s statement, about his decision to respond to Syria’s chemical attack on its own people, left much to be desired. It followed his Bush-era protestation about taking such action and his recent insistence that he does not need the approval of Congress to act. Now he suggests that the response he has been espousing is no longer urgent.

Waiting until Congress returns on Sept. 9 gives Syrian President Bashar al-Assad more time to disperse his chemical weapons and hone his defenses against the “ shot across the bow” that Mr. Obama plans. What is most revealing about a shot across the bow is that it is intended to miss the target.

The president’s failure to lead in this instance is the clearest example yet that he does not know how to make a decision or, once having made it, how to proceed.

Ron Sable, Wintergreen Resort, Va.

The writer was special assistant to President Ronald Reagan for national security affairs from 1985 to 1986.

In support of The Post’s Aug. 31 editorial “The risk of doing nothing,” I can think of no better observation than that of 19th-century philosopher John Stuart Mill, who said, “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war is worse.”

Herb Magidson, Annapolis

Let me get this straight. We, as a nation, are distressed (as we most certainly should be) at the mass killing of innocent civilians. So now we must kill innocent civilians, as will certainly occur when we strike, in order to clearly express our moral outrage at killing innocent civilians. Where’s the logic in that? 

Dead is dead, no matter the method.

David Weiss, Charlottesville

President Obama’s offer of congressional debates is better than bombing without debate, but not as good as what our Constitution requires: that Congress, not the president, decide whether we go to war. And the public and Congress must remember our history of waging war based on false pretenses.  

Twice since World War II, Congress and the American people have been duped into going to war based on imaginary threats. The supposed North Vietnamese attack on a U.S. gunship in the Gulf of Tonkin — an attack that was later determined never to have happened — was the basis of a congressional resolution that provided legal cover for the Vietnam War. And then there were the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that never existed.

Let’s be skeptical before we rush into another war.

Ron Carver, Silver Spring