Thursday, September 15, 2016

Taking "Risks" for Peace in Syria

As I write, the cease-fire in Syria is mostly holding, and people living in besieged areas of Aleppo have reported going outside to walk around for the first time in months. No war as complex and emotional as this one was ever settled so easily, but meanwhile there is at least a day of peace, and that counts for something.

So I offer congratulations to the people who made this possible, especially Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

But I also want to comment on the weird way this deal has been presented in much of the American press. The Times:
The new arrangement on Syria, set to begin Monday, was greeted with skepticism by Syrians on all sides and carries many risks of failure, which the Pentagon and Mr. Kerry acknowledged. . . .

The accord was reached after sharp divisions inside the Obama administration over the wisdom of sharing targeting information with Russia, and accusations that the Russians have used the negotiating period to help Mr. Assad regain control in Aleppo and strike at American-backed opposition groups.

For Mr. Obama, who asked Mr. Kerry to keep working on the negotiation after the president failed to reach an accord with Mr. Putin during the Group of 20 summit meeting in China last weekend, the new accord poses considerable risks.
Risk? What risk, exactly, are Kerry, Obama et al. taking? Or any other American? We are talking about a war in which half a million people may have died, and that has spawned Europe's greatest refugee crisis since World War II. Compared to the risks millions of Syrians and others are facing every day, who has time for the possible damage to the reputations of diplomats, or the ins and outs of Russian-US military posturing?

Sure, if this fails, as it is very likely to, Kerry may end up looking foolish and Obama may end up looking weak, blah blah blah. Those are the risks we pay our leaders to take. I am glad they have taken them. But I am also bewildered by the thicket of bristling suspicion that surrounds this and most other peacemaking efforts. Sometimes there is nothing to be said but do the right thing or go home and let someone else do it.

1 comment:

pithom said...

The thing is, nobody trusts anyone there, so this is most likely just an excuse for backstabbing by all sides on a mass scale. The question is only which side backstabs first (probably rebels; they're more active).