Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Take Action in Syria We Can Make the Outcome Less Bad, but Time Is Running Out

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Take Action in Syria We Can Make the Outcome Less Bad, but Time Is Running Out

Article excerpt

Watching the making of U.S. and European policy on what to do about Syria's cruel civil war is a lot like watching mold grow on cheese.

For a while you can't see anything happening. But eventually you are aware that a lot has changed -- and it is all bad. In fact, downright malodorous. That's the tipoff -- as the reek of change spreads throughout the refrigerator (see also: the region), it causes pundits to start pondering: Is it too late to reverse all that's gone so bad?

Last Saturday, in a significant development that received insignificant coverage in a week of tabloid-driven news, a senior U.S. intelligence official warned that the situation in Syria would likely get worse whether Syria's murderous president, Bashar Assad, who has killed at least 93,000 fellow Syrians, remains in power or is overthrown.

Defense Intelligence Agency Deputy Director David R. Shedd candidly painted a dark big picture of Syria's civil war and its effect on the Middle East. Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, Mr. Shedd said, as reported in Sunday's New York Times: "If Bashar Assad were to succeed, he will be a more ruthless leader ... If he loses and goes to an enclave inside (Syria) ... I think there will be ongoing civil war for years to come." Mr. Shedd said the most radical rebel factions, such as Nusra Front, will fight to control large parts of Syria, no matter who wins.

The latest reports from Syria uniformly conclude that things have suddenly gotten much better for Mr. Assad. It was only a few months ago that his military seemed to be back-pedalling toward defeat, as Syria's multifaceted rebels scored battleground victories. But then his allies -- Russia, Iran and Iran's auxiliary, the military wing of Hezbollah -- came to his rescue. Russia sent weapons. Iran sent weapons and reportedly is operating several camps inside Syria where it is training Syrian militia. Iran's ever-militant client, Hezbollah, has moved in forces from neighboring Lebanon.

In contrast, for two years, the leaders of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, et al., have mainly fortified Syria's various rebel forces with megatons of encouraging words. …

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