Bob Dreyfuss writes: It’s time for the United States to surrender on Syria. The embattled government of Bashar al-Assad hasn’t won the war, exactly, but it’s demonstrated that it isn’t going anywhere. The rebels, increasingly dominated by hard-core Islamists and Al Qaeda types, aren’t fit to take over. For Washington, the only way out of the crisis, other than to give up the fight, would be conduct a military operation on the scale of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and not only would that be a regional disaster for the United States, Syria and its neighbors, but it’s also out of the question, politically. Using American air power to dislodge Assad won’t work, though it could cause vast casualties, and it would force Russia and Iran to step up their military aid to Damascus in response. And simply upping the ante, by giving the rebels more and heavier weapons, will only prolong the carnage.
According to The New York Times, President Obama is deeply “frustrated” with the crisis in Syria, though it’s a crisis partly of his own making. The US-Russia diplomacy, including two rounds in Geneva since January, has not moved forward, and today the Times quotes an official involved in the discussion of what to do about Syria thus:
The Russian view is that their guy is winning, and they may be right. So we’re back to the question we faced a year ago: How do you change the balance and force the Syrians to negotiate?
Answer: you don’t. You give up.
Like quite a few other observers trapped by their own ideological presuppositions, Dreyfuss views Syria through the prism of “regime change” and so all Washington has to do to extricate itself from a crisis that is supposedly of its own making is to give up the hope of toppling Assad.
Stuck in an Iraq-based time-warp, the columnist and those fixed in the same mindset, don’t seem to have noticed that declarations from Washington that Assad “must go” have never been coupled with a coherent strategy to make that happen. These have been expressions of a desired conclusion and little more.
At the beginning of the recent peace talks in Geneva, Secretary of State John Kerry rejected the idea of Assad being included in a transitional government, saying: “There is no way… that the man who led the brutal response to his own people could regain the legitimacy to govern.” That’s a rather uncontroversial statement — unless one imagines the Syrian ruler could win a fair election.
But maybe for Dreyfuss, Assad is the kind of strongman Syria needs — someone who can hold the “hard-core Islamists and Al Qaeda types” at bay. Maybe Bashar should be seen as our man in Damascus fighting the good war against terrorism.
Either Assad stays in power, or never again will it be safe to fly on El Al.
What about the Syrian people? At least for Dreyfuss, they aren’t even worth a mention.