The US-Russian brokered agreement to hold talks in Geneva ("Geneva 2," they're calling it) isn't spurring much optimism. Bilal Saab isn't terribly optimistic about "Supporting the Syrian Rebels in Geneva." And elsewhere, Aaron David Miller, who's been to quite a few, warns of "The Perils of Peace Conferences."
Walter "Pat" Lang brings a career intelligence analyst's opinion to the debate:
"You have to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold'em..."Tell us what you really think, Pat.
The US policy towards Syria is a total muddle, conceived in ignorance of the human facts on the ground and motivated by "dogooderism" that thinks all the world is a graduate school seminar in which professors and students can re-design the fate of humanity to taste.
While I respect the deeply held opinions on both sides of the intervention question, I think we nneed to realistically assess what is happening on the ground. First, the battle for Qusayr is, if not won, at least tilting towards the Syrian regime, and Hizbullah's open and unapologetic involvement is a major challenge to the rebels.
Secondly, what about the S-300s? If the US and Russia are really trying to broker peace, the decision to sell sophisticated surface-to-air missiles to Syria underscores Russia's continuing commitment to the Syrian regime. While Israel's recent air strikes inside Syria may be the overt justification for the S-300 sale, one of the main elements in the potential intervention package advocated by supporters of the rebels, a no-fly zone, could be undermined once the missiles are in place. Calling it a game-changer is not an exaggeration.
I do think the situation is shifting at the moment, and not in favor of the rebels. While intervention has some eloquent advocates, who insist the model is not Iraq but Libya, where a no-fly zone worked. But Syria is not Libya and the geopolitics are totally different. I sense little real domestic will in the US and Europe to support military intervention. The tragedy of Syria seems to be deepening, but it is far from clear that any of the proposed approaches is going to end the killing. I wish I could be more optimistic.