by Chas Danner
[W]e may now be at a historic turning point in the Arab Spring—what is effectively the end of it, at least for now. Assad, says Syria expert Joshua Landis, is surely taking on board the lessons of the last few weeks: If the United States wasn’t going to intervene or even protest very loudly over the killing of mildly radical Muslim Brotherhood supporters, it’s certainly not going to take a firmer hand against Assad’s slaughter of even more radical anti-U.S. groups. …
What began, in the U.S. interpretation, as an inspiring drive for democracy and freedom from dictators and public corruption has now become, for Washington, a coldly realpolitik calculation. As the Obama administration sees it, the military in Egypt is doing the dirty work of confronting radical political Islam, if harshly. In Syria, the main antagonists are both declared enemies of the United States, with Bashar al-Assad and Iran-supported Hezbollah aligning against al-Qaida-linked Islamist militias. Why shouldn’t Washington’s policy be to allow them to engage each other, thinning the ranks of each?
Andrew Tabler predicts that if Assad is allowed to win, it will lead to a perpetual problem:
The most realistic scenario [for] a postwar Assad-led Syria is a state in which multiple sponsors of terror — Assad himself, the Iranian regime, Sunni offshoots of al Qaeda — are simultaneously pursuing their own ends alongside one another. It would likely be the source of instability, as well as the site of brutal crimes against humanity, for years to come. That’s why it is in the West’s interest to prevent Assad’s survival by ordering airstrikes on regime targets, pressuring Moscow and Tehran to stop supporting him, and aiding moderate members of the Syrian opposition. Otherwise, the only upside of Syria’s future will be that it will finally put the lie to the adage “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”
Earlier Dish on the US response to Syria here.