Hassan Hassan writes: Over the past five years in Syria, the Obama administration seems to have perfected the art of laying out the moral and practical argument against a decision it would later take.
In 2013, for example, Barack Obama said that the US would be setting a dangerous precedent if it did not respond to the chemical attack in a Damascus suburb that killed nearly 1,500 civilians, including 426 children. That precedent was already set as a botched process to destroy all the regime’s chemical arsenal or deter it from reusing it failed.
Also, US secretary of state John Kerry has repeatedly argued that Bashar Al Assad was a magnet for terrorists – a point that the Syrian president vigorously protested against at the weekend, arguing that it is the West and “especially France” that is to blame for Friday’s attacks in Paris. Mr Kerry has also stated that Mr Al Assad’s removal is vital for any hope for peace in the country.
That, too, has seemingly become a secondary issue in the effort to combat terrorism. Backers of both the opposition and the regime, along with representatives of the EU, the Arab League and the UN, agreed to support a ceasefire between the belligerent parties and on fighting terrorism. There was no mention of Mr Al Assad.
While western officials hailed the Vienna talks as a breakthrough, the statement issued by the participants is one of the most detached statements since the conflict started. Indeed, it is a regressive process that may make matters worse. [Continue reading…]