Why Diplomacy is the Only Option for Syria

The Washington Post editorial board sneers at the current diplomatic efforts on Syria in a scathing unsigned editorial today. Of course, they do not suggest an alternative solution, other than an amorphous appeal for more “US Leadership.”

The reality is that the killing in Syria will continue, and the threat to vital U.S. interests across the Middle East will grow, until Mr. Obama stops counting on the likes of Kofi Annan and Vladi­mir Putin to spare him from the responsibility that should be shouldered by a U.S. president. The longer he waits, the greater the cost — in children’s lives, among other things.

The editorial dismisses an effort to find a Yemen-style solution, in which Assad would leave power (potentially take up residence in Russia) and pave the way for a transition. They also chastise Kofi Annan’s efforts as mediator.

But this begs the question: if not a diplomatic solution to this crisis, then what? The Russians and Chinese are adamantly opposed to military intervention in Syria. This means that any military solution involving foreign forces would not be approved by the Security Council, and technically be “illegal.” That will almost certainly dissuade NATO and America’s most important European allies from undertaking military action, leaving the USA to (once again) lead a coalition of the willing to war in the Middle East.

There are a potential variety of military options, none of which will achieve the kind of regime change that the Washington Post editorial board is calling for. A No-Fly zone won’t stop thugs from going house to house executing families. A humanitarian corridor protected by American troops inside Syria is tantamount to the invasion of Syria, which I don’t see the American people supporting. Arming the Free Syrian Army is a recipe for a proxy war with Russia and Iran, which seems rather counter-productive.

The point is, there is no easy solution to the Syria crisis, but American military intervention seems to be no solution at all.  The diplomatic route is our best hope, so it deserves to be supported whole heartedly, not so casually dismissed.