After several weeks of continuous carnage, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney acknowledged that “If the regime’s intransigence continues, the international community is going to have to admit defeat.”
But the “international community”—which often amounts to little more than an empty euphemism on many critical issues—remains divided. Russia, China, and Iran continue to support the Assad dictatorship, which blatantly violates the Annan plan on a daily basis. Moreover, Moscow diplomatically protects the Assad regime by blocking strong action at the U.N. Security Council.
Despite the U.N.’s obvious failure to stem the bloodshed in Syria, a spokesman Friday insisted that the Annan plan remains “on track.” But although it may remain “on track” to provide the illusion of progress in resolving Syria’s increasingly bloody internal conflict, it is doing little to slow Assad’s killing machine. Indeed, the U.N. observer mission is ludicrously tiny, at Russia’s insistence, with only 40 U.N. observers (increasing to a mere 64 by this weekend) deployed in a country that is bigger than the state of North Dakota.
Annan’s diplomatic charade benefits Assad by buying time for his thugs to crush the rebellion and benefits Russia and Iran by helping them salvage a brutal Middle East ally. But it does little to protect Syria’s suffering people. And it does nothing to advance U.S. national interests by ridding the Middle East of a major exporter of terrorism that is closely allied to Iran.
The mess in Syria is in part attributable to the Obama Doctrine, which led Washington to unsuccessfully seek to engage with the Assad regime while soft-pedaling criticism of its longstanding human rights abuses and support for terrorism. When it became clear that the Administration’s naïve approach to Assad had failed miserably, it instinctively relied only on “soft power” and subcontracted U.S. policy to the United Nations, where Russia easily could block effective action.
Jay Carney has recognized that when it comes to Syria, the Emperor has no clothes. He may have been speaking of Kofi Annan, but the same condition also applies to his boss, President Obama.
This does not mean that the U.S. should launch a military intervention inside Syria or provide arms to Syrian opposition groups that may only replace Assad’s dictatorship with an Islamist dictatorship. But the Obama Administration must abandon wishful thinking about the nature of the Assad regime, the effectiveness of the United Nations, and the supposed benefits of its “reset” of relations with Russia if it is to successfully resolve the worsening crisis in Syria.