July 25, 2013 |
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.
April 30, 2013 |
WASHINGTON -- President Obama softened his threat to Syria over its possible use of chemical weapons, telling reporters that if conclusive proof of such activity emerges, he “would rethink a range” of retaliatory options that might not include military action. Obama, who has called Syria's use of chemical weapons in its civil war a “red line,” also made clear at a White House news conference Tuesday that the burden of a response is not the United States' alone, but one that is shared by all nations.
August 29, 2013 |
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.
August 28, 2013 |
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.
August 31, 2013
After the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, many Americans developed an aversion to military conflict known as the Vietnam Syndrome. That apparently was cured after a U.S.-led coalition's decisive victory in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, giving way to several smaller overseas interventions throughout the 1990s. Judging by the roughly 100 letters we received this week on a possible U.S. military strike against Syria, it's fair to say another strain of the Vietnam Syndrome is spreading; perhaps it'd be more accurate to call it the Iraq Syndrome.
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.
December 15, 2013 |
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.
September 23, 2013 |
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 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
August 28, 2013 |
BEIRUT - Syria is in a “state of war” and was bracing for U.S.-led attacks, the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations said Wednesday. “We are in a state of war right now, preparing ourselves for the worst scenario,” envoy Bashar Jaafari told reporters in New York. “What would you ask a government in this situation to do, unless to take the necessary precautions?” He declined to provide details and said officials in Syria were managing the situation. With the U.S. and allies said to be preparing a missile strike against Syria, there have been unconfirmed reports from opposition activists of evacuations of military and security buildings around Damascus.