Wednesday, 1 July 2015
Syria, You’re On Your Own
'In his May 19 briefing, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest leveled, in his own peculiar way, with the people of Syria: “... the President feels very strongly that the very significant problems that are faced by people in Syria, for example, are not problems that the United States is going to come in and solve for them. We're not going to impose a solution on Syria. We're not going to commit billions of dollars and the lives of hundreds of thousands of our men and women in uniform to try to solve those problems.” The fact that no one is calling for a ten-figure expenditure of money or the commitment of hundreds of thousands of troops is neither here nor there: the Syria straw man strategy is a permanent staple of administration disinformation. What is important is the implicit, but blunt message to the people of Syria: you are on your own.
There are twenty months left for an administration so self-absorbed and yet so self-unaware that a key spokesperson is actually able to say, “We’re not going to impose a solution on Syria” without betraying even a hint of irony. Twenty months in Syria-time is an eternity. One could easily imagine 500 thousand dead, 5 million refugees, and 15 million internally displaced. Recent setbacks notwithstanding, one could see the Assad regime continuing to prosecute a campaign of mass homicide, buoyed aloft by new injections of Iranian cash made possible by the lifting of sanctions. Twenty months from now an incoming US president could find Syria essentially partitioned between two sets of arch-criminals: the Assad regime in the west, and the Islamic State (ISIL or ISIS) to the east—a country in its death throes, hemorrhaging terrified human beings in all directions.
Faced with these kinds of prospects, Syrians already aware of the moral and policy vacuity of the West have no choice but to take matters into their own hands. This is the tallest of tall orders. As ISIL gobbles up more territory while being chased futilely from 30 thousand feet and as Assad—with Iran’s blessing—plasters residential areas with barrel bombs, the options for ordinary, nationalistic Syrians and those trying to represent them seem slim indeed.'