Bashar Al Assad

The 'Let's Not Even Try' Foreign Policy
Barack Obama's choice on Syria will define his presidency
August 26, 2013

The Syria choice will decide the tug-of-war between idealism and restraint in the Obama administration—and in the president's self-definition.

The Best Reason to Intervene in Syria Isn't to Help the Rebels
August 26, 2013

If Bashar al Assad’s use of chemical weapons in a rebel-controlled suburb of Damascus is “undeniable,” as Secretary of State John Kerry declared today, the United States should retaliate forcefully.

Is Assad Goading Obama?
The new Syrian atrocities may have been a miscalculation. But America's rhetoric encouraged them.
August 26, 2013

The new Syrian atrocities may have been a miscalculation. But America's rhetoric encouraged them.

The Battle for Aleppo

A photo essay from an inconvenient war.

The Battle that Birthed the Middle East
October 19, 2012

A trip to the site of one of the Great War's great disasters.

Baathism: An Obituary
September 14, 2012

When Bashar Al Assad's government finally collapses in Syria, it will mean the end of a totalitarian ideology that thrived—and killed—for 70 years.

Yes, Obama's Election Campaign is Affecting His Syria Policy. No, That's Not a Bad Thing.
June 15, 2012

It’s clear that the conflict in Syria is now an issue in the American presidential campaign, largely at the insistence of Mitt Romney’s Republican supporters. Most notable among the interjections was an emotional speech recently delivered on the Senate floor by Senator John McCain, in which he demanded to know why the White House was abetting Bashar al Assad’s murdering of innocents. There is, of course, much to quibble with in this characterization: Far from doing nothing to oppose Bashar, the Obama administration has supported the U.N.

Close To Zero
May 18, 2012

The problem with a moral vocabulary about politics and policy is that it not only makes politicians and policymakers feel bold, it also demands that they act bold. Eloquence creates expectations; and so in Washington, even for America’s first black, Jewish, and gay president, the goal is often to separate the high ground from its practical imperatives, so that an aura of rectitude may be acquired without recourse to significant action. Washington is the capital of idle talk about justice.

The Stalled Revolution
March 29, 2012

On a Monday in late February, I received a Facebook message from a Syrian activist notifying me that a demonstration was due to start in half an hour in a heavily guarded section of Damascus. The occasion was a funeral, and so the protest was likely to be large. “Two of the five martyrs are children, and funeral processions for children are always big,” the message explained. I took a cab to the Kafr Sousa district, an area that is home to many government buildings, and walked for 20 minutes, until I came upon about 75 casually dressed men toting machine guns.

Have We Learned Nothing From the Nineties? Syria is the Balkans All Over Again
March 22, 2012

As the international community continues to debate high-minded principles of national sovereignty, Syria continues its downward spiral into unmitigated chaos. The bitter truth is that the longer this situation continues, the deeper the scars will be once the nation has been freed of Bashar Al-Assad. Increasingly, crimes against humanity are being committed by both sides, as the Free Syria Army struggles to incorporate and maintain control over its armed rebel brigades. But as harrowing as the details of the current situation are, the basic principles at stake are very clear.

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