September 10, 2013

A Last Straw for Diplomacy

There is breaking news on Syria every hour. The dizzying pace with which new reports surface in this Syria fiasco is just as confusing, as it may be a little reassuring. If you are confused with all the turns and turnarounds, developing stories and strategic updates, you are not alone. Half of the world went to sleep last night with the impression that a strike on Syria is inevitable, and woke up this morning to find that Secretary of State Jon Kerry’s “unlikely scenario” is coming true.
Syrian Prime Minister Wael Nader Al-Halqi has struck a deal with the Russia to lead an effort to put Syria's chemical weapons under international control. If there is a real endgame here, it is to avert the looming U.S. military strike that is on the horizon. On one hand, the Assad government will sell this as a strategy "to stop the Syrian bloodshed and prevent a war." Maybe Syria is just coming to terms with the fact that President Obama’s plan was not a bluff after all.
So now what? That is the big elephant in the room that neither President Vladimir Putin nor President Obama can describe with any accuracy. There is still a lot of smoke yet to clear, but with the U.N. reports a few days away from probably increasing the stakes against the Assad government, perhaps the best course of action is one that involves suits, rather than combat boots and torpedoes. No one really knows the implications of this latest developments but diplomacy is my first choice any day of the week.
If this is all good news, why then are some Americans still skeptical? Other leaders played a political cat-and-mouse game with UN inspectors for years and dragged any military intervention – Saddam Hussein immediately comes to mind – so its comes as no surprise that Assad will not be winning over any new friends any time soon.
Of course, there are many people around the world where the only options to consider is war and more war.  They will not be holding any guns or stare at death at the frontlines, so it’s easy to say.
If indeed a pragmatic solution can start with diplomacy, and avoid the option that adds more bloodshed to an already bloody landscape, I prefer that option.