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Assad Is Still There

Other than that charity which divine commandment mandates that we extend to all our fellow human beings, Via Meadia has no special love for Butcher, sorry, Bashar Assad, but distaste has not blinded us to the strategic reality: the Syrian government has found a winning strategy in its fight against domestic opposition.  It has found a level of violence sufficient to prevent the opposition from taking over the streets without being so overwhelming as to trigger any risk of international intervention.

Prospects of international intervention are dimming, and the opposition is losing momentum.  Libya fatigue is a significant factor. Western governments are particularly hesitant to wade into yet another conflict between a ruthless dictator and a hodgepodge of opponents who fight for his overthrow with few coherent post-war plans.  The West stretched its UN mandate in Libya to the breaking point; there is essentially zero chance that Russia and China will permit the UN seal of approval on a second Middle Eastern intervention.

As long as Assad can keep the protests at bay with not a whole lot more bloodshed than at present, the “international community” will murmur, protest and apply a few sanctions, but it will not intervene.  Both Russia and China are considerably more favorably disposed toward the Assad dynasty than toward the mercurial Great Loon of Libya, and there are no large oil deposits in Syria to strengthen European interest in an intervention.

The game isn’t over.  Long term, an economic war of attrition could make a difference, especially if the Saudis and other Sunni Arab states keep the pressure on and the Europeans don’t weaken.  But sadly, the Assad government, which thanks to its alliance with Iran and its unreserved support for terror is a far greater strategic problem than Libya ever was, and whose suppression of domestic opponents has been more brutal than anything the Libyans managed, looks pretty solidly entrenched at the moment.

Sometimes great powers show an instinct for the capillary; they dedicate their resources to relatively minor problems while failing to deal with the main issue.  In hindsight, putting Libya on hold while addressing the problems in Syria would have been better from both a humanitarian and a strategic standpoint.  Life is what it is, and we are where we are; that is small consolation to the people dying in Syria as hope slowly dies.

It will also not be much help to diplomats wrestling with intractable regional problems that Assad. unrepentant and inflamed, makes much worse.

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  • Hardcore Dude

    At the risk of vulgarity, I do think I would enjoy a Vogue piece along the lines of “The Freshest and Most Magnetic of First Ladies Deals with Memories of the Last Moments of her Husband’s Life as he Begs for Mercy with a Knife […].”

    It would be a sad little bit of rough trade on the street, but then the bloody scene leads nicely into a discussion of the pretty red soles of Asma’s Louboutin shoes, and we’d all go away happy…

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