The tragedy that has befallen the Syrian people demonstrates the horror that the lack of American leadership could precipitate. The Obama administration failed to understand the nature of the Assad regime and its predictable conduct.
Amidst the great uncertainty that prevails in the Middle East today there is at least one thing that is certain: we are living through a great shift in the region's politics and alliances, the repercussions of which are yet to be fully felt.
Eventually, Assad or his sons must renounce power; history teaches that no repressive regime lasts forever. But how long until this family falls? How long until "might makes right" is replaced by morality, until the pen and law and human decency really do triumph over the sword?
We Americans tend to think of most wars in terms of our own Revolution. There is an oppressive ruler. There are an oppressed people. The people yearn for greater freedom and democracy for all. The oppressive ruler must fall so that a brighter day may dawn. If only it were true.
Do you expect the next headline concerning sectarian differences in Iraq and/or Syria to read, "Islamic factions decide to reject violence and to support and to love their fellow citizens?" No? I don't see why not.
The reality of the situation is that the civil war in Syria, though it has escalated tremendously, remains essentially a clash between an authoritarian, ruthless leadership and its associated elite (as well as those who feared instability) and the masses tired of bowing their heads.
The issues surrounding political change in Syria are multifaceted and much more intricate than is being reported in the western media, yet the conflict continues to be painted in simplistic black and white terms.
Certainly, a practical solution to the crisis in Syria would require full cooperation between the U.S. and Russia, but considering the unfolding horror in Syria, neither the U.S. nor Russia can now piece together a political solution that will satisfy all players.
As the death toll mounts and the West struggles to decide what to do, ordinary Syrians like Ahmad are looking to other powers to give them the weapons or simply the courage they crave. Perhaps after two years, Bashar al-Assad is finally getting the war he always wanted.
The battle for Syria demonstrates that what started as a peaceful call for change can lead to the disintegration of an entire country, and creation of a new geopolitical reality. If it can happen in Syria, it can and will certainly happen elsewhere.
A bad guy in body armor is a bad guy who's harder to kill. Humanitarian items that are unmonitored get traded for currency spent on weapons. No aid is really "non-lethal." Who are these people we are proposing to help?
The United States is now working to shape post-Assad Syria. But as many insurgents see it, Washington, having stood by watching the carnage, now presumes that it can decide which Syrian groups are legitimate and which are not.
Mitt Romney apparently forgot to read the news coverage of his visit to Craig, Colorado, which pointed out that, despite Romney's assertions, neither Colorado nor Obama policies had hurt the coal industry in Craig.
The world must not allow the Syrian crisis to "play itself out," as some analysts have suggested: This threat to the country's minorities (many of whom are unarmed) is simply too great, and the consequences too severe, to play this sort of Russian roulette on a national-societal scale.
If the Obama administration continues on its present course and does not confront the Russian-Syrian arms transfers with tougher resolve, it won't be merely "leading from behind"; it will be turning its back on the growing humanitarian catastrophe.