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September 8, 2013
Re "No credibility, no trust," and "Credibility shouldn't be a factor," Opinion, Sept. 5 Benny Morris misconstrues President Obama's deliberative approach in seeking the appropriate response to Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons as a sign of indecision and political weakness. He attempts to extend this mistaken conclusion regarding the president's cautious approach to the Iranian nuclear problem. Morris' flawed argument serves as a classic illustration of what Rajan Menon, in his opposing Op-Ed article, calls the "credibility gambit.
August 29, 2013 | By Michael McGough, This post has been updated, as indicated below.
American journalists of an Anglophilic bent often complain that debates in Britain's House of Commons put those in the U.S. Congress to shame. Actually, the Commons often showcases its own form of superficiality, as in the Kabuki theater of Prime Minister's Question Time. But Thursday's Commons debate over a possible attack on Syria was admirably substantive. Prime Minister David Cameron offered a crisp and nuanced defense of military action, acknowledging that, although there was strong evidence that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons, he couldn't point to a “one smoking piece of intelligence.” Labor Party leader Ed Miliband, who forced Cameron to delay a final vote on military action, was less impressive but drove home the point that a decision should await a report by U.N. weapons inspectors.
September 21, 2013
Re "Bait-and-switch on Syria," Opinion, Sept. 17 Jonah Goldberg argues that the Obama administration changed its policy goal on Syria from ousting President Bashar Assad to eliminating chemical weapons in the hands of the government. He writes that the former policy goal is "now dead. " This is wrong. Secretary of State John F. Kerry faced these very questions in a joint news conference with U.S. allies in Paris the day before Goldberg's Op-Ed appeared. He pointedly said, "Nothing in what we have done is meant to offer any notion to Assad that there's any legitimacy" to his role as leader.
July 25, 2013 | By Timothy Garton Ash
Some 6,000 refugees pour out of Syria every day, straining humanitarian aid resources and destabilizing the country's neighbors. Cumulatively, they already make up 10% of the population of Jordan. And there is no end in sight. Antonio Guterres, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, says the displacement of people has not risen "at such a frightening rate" since the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The absolute size of the humanitarian catastrophe may not yet match the largest of recent times, such as the 2010 floods in Pakistan, but Syria is working hard to catch up. Moreover, its political effects are potentially far greater than those of any tsunami or earthquake.
December 15, 2013 | Doyle McManus
Here's how feeble U.S. influence on the outcome of Syria's dreadful civil war has become: For the Obama administration's diplomacy to succeed, it now needs help from an armed group with the unpromising name of the Islamic Front. That wasn't where the administration hoped to be. When President Obama first got interested in Syria back in 2011, his hope was that a popular uprising just needed a little moral support from the outside world to topple the brutal regime of Bashar Assad. When that didn't work, Obama offered modest, mostly non-military aid to moderate groups in the Syrian opposition, enough to raise their hopes but not enough to ensure success on the battlefield.
August 28, 2013 | Doyle McManus
President Obama appears increasingly ready to launch a military strike in response to Syrian President Bashar Assad's apparent use of chemical weapons against civilians. But the goal won't be to topple the Assad government, even though Obama has wanted that outcome for more than two years. Instead, White House officials say, the goal will be more limited: deterrence. The strikes will be aimed primarily at deterring Assad from using chemical weapons again. But there are other kinds of deterrence Obama is hoping for too. PHOTOS: Portraits of Syrian rebels He hopes to deter other adversaries, especially Iran, from concluding that he doesn't mean it when he proclaims a "red line," as he did on chemical weapons in Syria last year.
September 23, 2013 | By K.C. Cole
A mathematical solution in Syria? That's not as crazy as it sounds. In fact, the working compromise is a classic case of the power of game theory, a branch of mathematics that analyzes the best possible outcomes in conflicts where neither side knows what the other will do. It's not about winning as much as it is finding the least worst option, which is precisely what Presidents Obama, Vladimir Putin, Bashar Assad and company have done. No one gets exactly what he wants. But no one loses everything either.
August 29, 2013 | By Carol J. Williams
Russia has deployed two powerful warships to the Mediterranean Sea to augment its normal naval presence amid rising expectations of Western airstrikes on its ally, Syria. A senior Russian naval officer denied Thursday that the dispatch of an anti-submarine ship and a guided-missile cruiser were in response to U.S. and European naval buildups in preparation for possible punitive strikes on the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. But Russia's Interfax news agency this week quoted an unidentified Russian General Staff source as saying that "the well-known situation now in the eastern Mediterranean required us to make some adjustments to the naval force.
August 31, 2013
Re "A moral and legal test for Obama," Aug. 28 U.S. officials are claiming they have irrefutable evidence of a poison gas attack against civilians in Syria. Trade those words for something like "convinced that there are weapons of mass destruction. " Ring any bells? Kim Righetti Upland ALSO: Mailbag: Syria -- to strike or not to strike Letters: Egypt's choices and U.S. options Letters: iPads won't cure what ails LAUSD
February 19, 2013 | By Sergei Loiko
MOSCOW -- Russian warships are returning to the waters near Syria in a new demonstration of the Kremlin's interest in the outcome of the crisis there. The Russian Defense Ministry told the RIA-Novosti news agency on Tuesday that four large landing vessels were on their way to the Mediterranean near Syria, three weeks after the Russian navy conducted its biggest maneuvers in the region since the breakup of the Soviet Union. "Based on the results of the Navy exercises in the Black and Mediterranean seas from Jan. 19 through Jan. 29 ... the Ministry leadership has taken a decision to continue combat duty by Russian warships in the Mediterranean," the ministry said in its statement.
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