THE BLOG
05/12/2014 11:39 am ET | Updated Jul 12, 2014

Three People in a Room: Me, President Obama and President Putin

I'm imagining President Obama, President Putin and myself in a room. Strange thing to imagine, I suppose.

And the one catch is that none of us can come out of the room until we decide what to do with Syria.

Surely you say, the Syrians must be involved in this lock up? But the tragedy of this tragedy is that Syrians have no part to play in their future.

While the rebels are struggling, the regime holds on. The presidential elections coming up are so ludicrous that they haven't even been covered extensively in the international media.

The real decision about Syria lies with Putin and Obama.

Option 1. Maintain the status quo: Do nothing. Allow the regime to slaughter its people. Allow the rebels to have no standing chance, and allow 10 million people to suffer.

Who knows how long the current state of affairs could last? When would enough be enough? In just five years time, all those young 10-year-old boys in Za'atari and soon to be Azraq camp would be 15, prime age for radicalization because they are so disenfranchised from having nothing to hope for. No education. No future. Their father's dead. Their mother's destitute. Who will they blame? Who will they target?

How can the current regime possibly win? Syrians have been barrel-bombed and tortured; they have lost loved ones, family members, friends, legs and arms. You name it; it's all been lost. Despite the current and future regime's military superiority, how can any Syrian actually be prepared to live under the regime's rule?

Historically, I don't know of another regime of this brutality that has ever survived, endured and remained in power whilst the world bore raw witness to such barbarous behavior.

We have the choice now to stop the horror before it ruins multiple generations of a once kind and beautiful people.

Option 2. Fake it. Continue to pretend we are seeking solutions but actively doing very little to stem the slaughter and bring forward an outcome. This is what we have been doing for the past three years.

We're dithering about in the United Nations, debating UN Security Council Resolutions -- that's if they even get through to the UNSC because France, the U.K. and the U.S. won't put up a resolution for fear of a Russian veto.

But it's not only about ceasing the violence. Even the most basic humanitarian aid is not reaching the nine million Syrians in need. A letter published in The Guardian last month, signed by 35 top lawyers and law professors from around the world, argues that the UN humanitarian agencies have the legal right to defy the Syrian government's "arbitrary" refusal to allow food aid and medical supplies to reach areas under rebel control.

"They cannot, however, lawfully withhold consent to weaken the resistance of the enemy, cause starvation of civilians or deny medical assistance. Where consent is withheld for these arbitrary reasons, the relief operation is lawful without consent," the legal experts argue.

The UN rejected the advice of legal experts. United Nations' aid chief Valerie Amos said, "For every lawyer you will get three or four different opinions about international humanitarian law," Amos said.

"I don't feel that we should use precious time getting into an esoteric debate with respect to these issues of international humanitarian law. I think what we should be doing is focusing on how we best get the aid in."

Amos' response is ghastly. She is simply chasing her tail. Because to get aid in, Amos is proposing to continue doing what has been failing: relying on Assad.

So, we continue to fake it, whilst doing nothing.

Option 3. Take a risk to solve the problem once and for all. Take a risk to save the country's future and the lives of thousands of Syrians.

Americans are weary of another protracted conflict and Europeans are scarred from the WMD debacle. Having learnt nothing from Rwanda or Srebrenica, our international system has failed the Syrian people on the Responsibly to Protect.

Take a risk, President Obama. Show the world that the President of the United States can use his remaining strength and power to lead by example and act as the world's protector-in-chief.

When you said the use of chemical weapons in Syria was a red line, and then had no response when they were used, you failed as a leader. Why would the Ukrainians believe any more of your red lines? Or the Japanese vis a vis land disputes with China. Or the South Koreans vis a vis a nuclear powered North Korea?

I know Americans don't want another conflict. They don't want boots on the ground. I'm not even suggesting that. Perhaps as a beginning step, show and demonstrate some real outrage? When you reflect on your Presidency in 30 years, how will you feel when "Syria" is mentioned? That you, as President of the most powerful country, stood by and watched the slaughter of a population.

Now over to you President Putin. Are you willing to take a risk? The Ukraine debacle has displayed your ruthlessness to show strength and power. But it is unlikely that your dream of Russian supremacy will ever be fulfilled.

Syria offers you a chance to legitimize your place in the international system. Take a risk and show that you're not stuck in the Cold War and that you do have a part to play in peace and security.

President Putin, one final piece of advice when making your decision. If you continue with Option one or option two, your option four looks like this: militarized, disenfranchised Syrian boys, so angry at the world, who have lost everything and have nothing to hope for, will resent and blame you for Assad's slaughter. Forget Chechen separatists. Your greater threat will be from disenfranchised kids.

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