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The Fecklessness of Syrian Diplomacy

Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan is an improvement on previous would-be mediators in Syria (the presence of a notorious war criminal among them sets the bar pretty low). But even he has proven no more effective in quelling the conflict, according to the Washington Post:

An international push to end Syria’s conflict stalled Sunday as U.N. envoy Kofi Annan left Damascus without a cease-fire deal and President Bashar al-Assad’s forces pounded opposition areas and clashed with rebels throughout the country.

Via Meadia is not in the habit of making rash predictions (leave that to the mainstream pundits), but we will go out on a limb here and suggest that you’re not likely anytime soon to read sentences like: “U.N. envoy Kofi Annan left Damascus with a cease-fire deal.” As we’ve noted, the media has been overplaying Assad’s weakness, and he has little reason to give in to international pressure, especially given that U.S. intervention in Libya has stunted any efforts to form a serious coalition against Syria.

Ultimately, if the Butcher of Damascus is to go, it will require military intervention from the Turks or others, not the well-meaning yet hapless ministrations of Kofi Annan.

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  • Kris

    “Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan is an improvement on previous would-be mediators in Syria (the presence of a notorious war criminal among them sets the bar pretty low).”

    Very well played. 🙂

  • bob sykes

    Assad simply cannot give up. If he loses dies.

  • Eurydice

    I know this is an intellectual forum, but I’ll give an emotional response – no, just no. I’m sick of hearing, “Ok, that last war turned out not to be in our national interest, but this one really, really is, trust me.” Or, “We know this will be a huge honking failure, but doing something is better than doing nothing.”

    And sending somebody else into the quagmire doesn’t help anything because we’ll have to pay for it in some way eventually. Turkey, especially, doesn’t do anything without getting paid, either in cash or trade or promises or chunks of other people’s land.

    I just don’t see how using the same failed methods over and over can produce a different result. Perhaps it’s time to apply the critical analysis of the blue model to foreign policy.

  • Luke Lea

    Whoever intervenes will be stuck with a tribal, clan-based society ungovernable by liberal, democratic means. That is a painful lesson which we in the West are only beginning to learn. For some background see here:

  • Luke Lea

    Correction: rather than a painful lesson which we are only beginning to learn I should have written a painful reality which we in the West are only beginning to comprehend.

    For additional background see here and here.

    Realism being the first desideratum of moral responsibility in this world, we are going to have to come to terms with these bio-cultural realities.

    To encourage representative institutions in these parts of the world maybe we should start thinking along the lines of one-clan one-vote?

    We need to learn how to work with not across or against the grain of these societies. Because facts are stubborn things.

  • Mark in Texas


    Sure Turkey doesn’t do anything without getting paid. How about if their price is ownership of Syria under some kind of bogus League of Nations Trust Territory handwaving like American Samoa.

    We send in cruise missiles and the Air Force to take out the Syrian air force, air defense and C3I. They send in tanks and take over the country which they then own. Turkey wins. Lebanon wins. Assad loses. Iran loses. The world gets a little more stable. Heck, maybe we could even work out a deal where the Turks grant Kurdish areas independence in exchange.

    You will have a hard time arguing that Syrians will be worse off under Turkish rule than the status quo or what is likely to emerge from an overthrow of the Assad government.

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