After a year of bloodshed, the crisis in Syria has reached a decisive moment. It is estimated that more than 7,500 lives have been lost. The United Nations has declared that Syrian security forces are guilty of crimes against humanity, including the indiscriminate shelling of civilians, the execution of defectors, and the widespread torture of prisoners. Bashar Al-Assad is now doing to Homs what his father did to Hama. Aerial photographs procured by Human Rights Watch show a city that has been laid to waste by Assad’s tanks and artillery.
One year ago this week in Iran, the desire for democracy gave birth to an indigenous political reform movement that is more promising and more consequential than anything the Middle East has seen in a generation. One year ago, the conventional wisdom held that the prospect for political evolution in Iran was dim and distant.
LAST AUGUST, during my first trip to Iraq, I was struck not by hostility toward the United States for toppling Saddam Hussein—I encountered none—but by a burning ambition among Iraqis to build their country anew. Nothing I saw then and nothing I have learned since has changed my conviction that the war was just. We were right to liberate Iraq and end Saddam's threat to the world. Still, we have learned some bitter lessons in the process. Our intelligence failed--we greatly overestimated Iraq's weapons of mass destruction while underestimating Saddam's destruction of Iraq's human capital.