Syria: How Does It End?

I confess to war-mongering tendencies: Supported U.S. bombing in the Balkans; Happy to see a coalition of France, UK, and the U.S. go into Libya; Applauded U.S. support of Egyptian uprising.  But something happened--Syria.

What started as a citizen uprising against Assad looked much like other beginnings in the Arab Spring. As it ground on, U.S. support for a "moderate" opposition seemed measured, hinting at a prudent rethink of an all-in policy.

But  that didn't work out. Increasingly radical forces have taken over the war and the moderates, however few there may be, have left the battlefield or joined the jihadis. As the battle for Aleppo reaches its final days, whoever is left should surrender. As I have written in two recent columns, Stop Feeding the Fire and Speaking Up For Standing Down, it's time for the U.S. to end its support and supply of the "moderate opposition."  That is not what Madeleine Albright and other foreign policy experts think: keep sending weapons.

An unexpected surprise then to see a break in establishment views in this  opinion piece by Peter Galbraith. "Such aid cannot possibly now change the trajectory of the war, but will certainly get more people killed. Though the outcome is clear, how the war ends matters greatly. The United States has an interest in a result that allows as many Syrians as possible to go home, that ensures the total defeat of the Islamic State and other extremist groups, and that safeguards the Syrian Kurds, who have been America’s principal ally against the Islamic State."

Galbraith concludes by urging the U.S. to work with Russia to bring this about.

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages.

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