A new UN report estimates that 60,000-plus people have been killed in Syria between March 2011 and today. Worse, the rate of casualties is increasing as the war drags on, as both sides begin to use heavier weapons. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay put it bluntly: “Collectively, we have fiddled at the edges while Syria burns.”
She’s not wrong. The Security Council has proven incapable of doing anything to limit casualties, and pointless UN missions led by Kofi Annan and Lakhdar Brahimi have been worse than useless at curbing the violence:
“The situation in Syria is bad. Very, very bad,” Brahimi said after meeting Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby. “It is getting worse and therefore if nearly 50,000 were killed in nearly two years if, God forbids, this crisis continues for another year, it will not only kill 25,000. It will kill 100,000. The situation is deteriorating.”
No ceasefires. No negotiations. The longer the fight goes on, the more Syria will find itself beset by warlords and extra-judicial counterattacks, as in Somalia and the Congo. And as the West dithers, radical groups will continue to gain weapons, money, and territory in the heart of one of the most volatile areas on Earth.
It’s certainly not too late for the U.S. to get more involved in fixing the mess in Syria, but our options are now considerably worse than they were two years ago. Years have passed, and we’re continuing to pay for our ill-advised decision to intervene in Libya while ignoring the more serious crisis in Syria—as are hundreds of thousands of Syrians.