Tag: Aleppo

Syria Is at a Tipping Point, and So Is American Foreign Policy


aleppo_bombed_hospitalThe cataclysm in Syria — the atrocities, humanitarian crisis and escalating hostilities — could hardly get worse. But it could. US Syria policy — the moral and strategic errors, deferral to Russia and Iran, and enabling of Assad — could hardly get worse. But it could. Fallout in the region — the opportunities for Iran, Russia, ISIS and other jihadists that the war provides — could hardly get worse. But it could.

The ideas that Russia can be a “partner” in fighting ISIS, that Russia and Iran can play a “constructive role” in the region, and that Syrians can “coexist” with a regime that causes such horrors and devastation are fantasies, already proven wrong. Perpetuating policies based on such delusions would be to knowingly steer American foreign policy even further off course.

From the beginning, the Obama administration indulged dictators, offering to “normalize” relations with the worst of them. Thus, even though Syria was a state sponsor of terror that had backed a brutal puppet government in Lebanon, and caused severe setbacks for American troops by arming and training Iraqi insurgents, the Obama administration reached out. They went so far as to suggest brutal Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad was a “reformer” and to recommend him as “intermediary” in the Middle East peace process.

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The title to this post is part of the first sentence of an opinion piece at the Washington Post by Leon Wieseltier. I must say that this is not something I have spent much time contemplating. I did the obligatory post way back when on asking for prayers for the people of Syria and an end to […]

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Syria, Russia, and Trump


I’m not sure how much news about Aleppo is filtering through the non-stop election coverage. Although my sense was that Gary Johnson did, indeed, know what Aleppo was (and just flubbed the question through some kind of inattention), that kind of inattention is only possible if the subject just isn’t something you think about all that much.

I don’t know whether he’s typical of American voters. It’s not something the next president will be able to ignore, though, that’s for sure. Aleppo’s now a hellscape reminiscent of the Battle of Stalingrad. Even by the horrifying standards of the Syrian war, the past week’s events Aleppo represent a new level of depravity. Russian and Syrian government airstrikes killed more than 300 people, most of them civilians and many of them children; more than 250,000 civilians are trapped. They’re under attack by the Syrian military and by thousands of foreign militiamen commanded by Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah fighters, and Russian ground troops; and they’re under bombardment by heavy Russian and Syrian air power — the most sustained and intense bombardment since the beginning of the war. A genuine Axis of Evil, if anything ever was, has emerged from this. Most of the civilians are, according to the Violations Documentation Center in Syria, being killed by Russians. I don’t know how reliable they are, so take this with the usual caveats:

Peace in Our Time?


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On Friday in Geneva, John Kerry announced a ceasefire in Syria to take effect today at sundown. Wait, haven’t they done this before? Yeah, they tried in back in February, and it fell to pieces in a couple of weeks. A major part of this agreement stops the Syrian government from using its air force, which Kerry described as the “main driver of civilian casualties.”

Yes, Syria Can Get Worse


syria-aleppo-three_2852123bYesterday, my friend Dov Friedman sent me a link to his latest piece in War on the Rocks. (If you’re interested in strategy, defense, and foreign policy, War on the Rocks is a good site to put on your daily reading list.)

His opening sentence is almost the same as about ten other pieces I’ve read this morning alone. “If the U.S. government has learned one lesson in Syria,” he writes, “it must be this: Things can always get worse.”

See, for example, this article in Spiegel about the siege of Aleppo:

We Know What’s Happening in Syria


Russian bombing is prompting a mass exodus of terrified Syrians from Aleppo to the Turkish border. Credible estimates suggest 70,000 have fled; they’re the lucky ones: Those who remain are apt to be starved to death. The Syrian army and allied militias, including Iranian militias, will soon cut rebel-held zones of Aleppo off from Turkish supply lines. Russian airstrikes have been hitting villages north of Aleppo on the road to Turkey. Aleppo is on the verge of encirclement, which means hundreds of thousands of souls will be unable to escape. What we’re about to watch live, if we wish to, will probably be the largest siege since the Second World War.

The news that the Syrian government is exterminating detainees is on the front page of The New York Times today. You can read the details here. At some point the world will issue a teary apology to Syrians and there will be memorials to the Syrians and lots of children will hear about the terrible first half of the 21st century, and everyone will ask how this could have happened. If anyone ever says, “We didn’t know what was happening to them,” tell them: Shut up. We did.