For years, the United States and its leaders articulated a sense of what Syria ought to look like without a plan for making it so. Continue reading
As the Syrian war reaches its terminal stages, open conflict has given way to a PR war.
The regime of Bashar al-Assad, backed by its Russian and Iranian allies, desires legitimacy and recognition. Assad is unlikely to receive it. His enemies wish to make it clear that, though the regime looks unlikely to fall, its essential character and its crimes exclude it from the community of nations. Continue reading
The regime of Bashar al-Assad plainly believes the Syrian Civil War is entering its terminal stages. This belief is distinct from the regime’s messaging, which has consistently held that Assad was never threatened by Syria’s revolution, and that his victory was always assured. Continue reading
There we have it. The date and time for Donald Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong-un are set.
It was announced when Trump’s newly appointed secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, returned from Pyongyang with three Americans who had been imprisoned in North Korea. The summit – an outbreak of diplomacy after the two countries traded threats last summer – will occur on June 12, in Singapore. Continue reading
The president of the United States is fond of talking off the top of his head.
Donald Trump sees his ability to make off the cuff statements on important matters of policy as an essential element of his appeal.
He would not want to appear overly rehearsed, or even too well-briefed. After all, he needs to be seen to speak his mind. Too much preparation, too much outside information, interferes with this formula. Continue reading
If one thing typifies the Syrian civil war and all its quotidian brutality, it is the prevalence of siege tactics. Like the war, sieges are protracted and grinding. They are more brutal than other forms of fighting, aping civil conflicts. And, as in sieges, in Syria the most horrific crimes can occur out of sight of the rest of the world, likely out of mind. Continue reading
The past few days have brought a stark reminder.
Since the start of February, reports have surfaced of several chemical attacks in Syria, apparently undertaken using chlorine gas. Among these, chlorine is said to have been used in Douma, in besieged East Ghouta, and Saraqeb, in Idlib province. Continue reading