The Magazine

The Syrian Crisis

May 9, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 32 • By LEE SMITH
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As a first step, the White House should recall our ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, and expel Damascus’s envoy to Washington, Imad Mustafa. We owe no prestige to a state whose snipers are firing on its own children. Sanctions leveled against the regime should not stop at the president’s brother Maher or his cousin Rami Makhlouf. Sanctions must include Assad himself. After six weeks of bloodshed, it should be obvious that Bashar al-Assad is not a reformer in the making but an accomplished serial murderer.

As one Lebanese friend says, “Syria never had anything more to offer Washington than blood—the blood of Lebanese, Palestinians, Israelis, Iraqis, and Americans. Now that the regime is letting its own blood, the blood of Syrians, will the leader of the free world finally stop negotiating in blood?” A nation that has reckoned honestly with its own failings throughout its history has not only the prerogative but the duty to lead with the truth. The danger of leading from behind is that history will pass you by.

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