In 2013, America might have swapped her sledgehammer for a scalpel, but then and having encountered situations that required the use of a sledgehammer, she tried to wield the scalpel as though it were a sledgehammer, with disastrous consequences for all.
Many have forgotten about the assassination of former Lebanese PM, Rafic Al-Hariri, and the culpability of the Assad regime in the matter, so perhaps a reminder was in order. The regime’s isolation at the time lasted for a total of three years, after which, Assad was rehabilitated and was once again considered to be a reformer, a modernizer and an indispensable figure for the stability of the region! Now, and despite the ongoing genocide Assad is championing and the destabilizing effect that this is having on the region as a whole, there are those like Ryan Crocker, among many others in the Obama Administration and its friendly circles, who would argue for rehabilitating Assad again. Will they never learn? Hasn’t the regime been rehabilitated enough already? And hadn’t it used very opportunity it was given to commit more mayhem?
This, in a nutshell, is what encapsulates the essence of Bashar’s grievance: he was always second, he was his father’s second choice for president, and now, he’s Time’s second choice for Man of the Year, even after perpetrating a genocide. This cuts deep for him. And what’s worse is the growing realization that he is a mere Iranian puppet now. He probably longs to assert himself again, and that longing has always been the key to his overreach and his mistakes. Not that it matters anymore. He’s not in charge, and this is no longer his game. It has never actually been his. He is nothing but a glorified placeholder.
With too many parochial interests and too many corrupt politicians around few sanction regimes can ever achieve their intended goals, especially when they drag out for years. The same applies for wars, after a certain period conflicts become “stable” and self-sustaining as a result of a convergence of parochial interests. But conflicts remain unpredictable and often have too many unintended consequences. Those betting on “stabilizing” the Syrian conflict by transforming it into a contained low intensity conflict with minimal impact on neighboring countries are deluding themselves. The impact of the devolution of Syria will be felt globally, there are simply too many overlapping interests, too many players involved, and too many people watching and drawing lessons that may not too “kosher.”