September 13, 2013
If there is an agreement in Geneva this week on the Russian proposal for Syria’s chemical weapons to be declared, verified, stockpiled and destroyed, then that would be a welcome first step towards a diplomatic solution that would forestall a U.S. military strike.
Diplomacy in the past hasn't worked because of the opposition of Russia and China for two and a half years despite the Assad regime following a clear strategy from day one to do whatever it takes to stay in power. The Assad regime shows no inhibitions of using massive force, even resorting to chemical warfare.
However, a political solution to forestall a U.S. military strike and head off a wider military conflict in the Middle East would be just a starting point. Over 100,000 people have been killed by conventional weapons.
Given the superiority of President Assad’s forces in conventional weapons, the removal of the regime’s chemical weapons, would do nothing to stop the civil war. Addressing the civil war and avoiding and all out regional war is the key.
The US and the UK say that Syria will not be the next Iraq in that intervention can be limited to punitive strikes instead of protracted engagement. This idea of a quick operation that relinquishes them of responsibility to remain engaged in Syria ignores the complexity of the sectarian, ideological and geopolitical divisions in Syria and its region. In the wider Middle East, despite the brutality of the Assad regime, this intervention will be seen as yet one more example of Western interference, following Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya.
Syria has managed to take over the U.S. foreign-policy agenda for a time when there really aren't truly vital US interests involved and the effort of public opinion to prevent the slide down the slippery slope to another disastrous war.