I wish to heavens this title was nothing more than drivel. But it isn’t. Reports that the White House is seriously considering cooperating with Assad are the bread and butter of Washingtonian policy circles these days. And I did attend the event organized by the Atlantic Council featuring Ambassador Stephen Rapp, the State Department’s ambassador-at-large for War Crimes and director of the Office of Global Criminal Justice, and he did indeed say that the atrocities being perpetrated today by Assad and his loyalist militias and security apparatuses are the “worst since the Nazis.”
So, here we have, on one hand, officials at the State Department comparing Assad to the Nazis, and, on the other, serious reports that the White House is considering reaching out to Assad to coordinate efforts against the Islamic State, ignoring the fact that Assad is currently busy coordinating with IS in their mutual campaigns against moderate rebels!
How macabre do things have to get before people who have certain respectability in this town begin challenging this amoral attitude in a clear manner?
The strategy advocated of those calling for cooperating with Assad seems to run like this: the White House does not need to directly cooperate with Assad at this stage. All it has to do is buy Assad the time he needs to win, supported by his allies: Iran and Russia. This can be accomplished exactly by doing what the Administration is currently proposing to do: offer a plan to support the arming and training rebels that will take a year or two to unfold. Meanwhile, Assad keeps changing facts on the ground by controlling more of Damascus and more of Aleppo in particular. Presented with this fait accomplit on the one, and the other fait accomplit that is the Caliphate on the other, the Administration will have enough justification to embark on a serious effort to coordinate policies with the Assad before 2016, if not much earlier.