For some time, many observers, including Via Meadia, have warned that the longer the violence in Syria goes on, the greater the risk of sectarian war spreading throughout the region.Now top U.S. diplomats and others are echoing these warnings. From the Financial Times:
Speaking after a Security Council meeting to discuss the worsening situation in Syria, [US Ambassador to the UN Susan] Rice said the most probable scenario was that “the violence escalates, the conflict spreads and intensifies”. The result would be “a proxy conflict with arms flowing in from all sides”.“It involves countries in the region, it takes on increasingly sectarian forms, and we have a major crisis not only in Syria but in the region,” she said. . . .Earlier, Jean-Marie Guehenno, one of the deputies to UN Syria envoy Kofi Annan, presented a stark report on the situation and . . . said that among members of the Security Council “there is an understanding that any sliding toward a full-scale civil war in Syria would be catastrophic”.
Washington may have belatedly recognized the dangers faced in Syria, but it hasn’t developed a policy. To be fair, none of the options are good; it may well be that flapping our lips and waving our hands may be the only realistic options. But if that is indeed the reality, it would have been almost infinitely more dignified and responsible to have done less lip-flapping and hand-waving. Frantic gestures like the administration’s rhetorical assault on Assad are okay for op-ed writers and even bloggers, but they make governments look weak, unbalanced, and foolish.Unfortunately, it appears that some in the administration have yet to absorb this basic lesson in responsible statecraft.