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Obama Should Explain Syria Inaction

4:50 PM, Jul 5, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Paul Wolfowitz and Mark Palmer, writing in the Washington Post

The Post’s Jim Hoagland reported on this page last month that a European diplomat told him: “Kofi will not go on forever providing cover for others. . . . His resignation would allow the world to see very clearly what Russia is doing — and what the United States is not doing — that makes them both complicit in the killing of a nation. But he also knows resignation is a gun with only one bullet.”

Annan should fire that bullet and stop providing the United States and other self-described “friends of Syria” with excuses for inaction. But whether or not he does, the United States and others cannot blame their failure on Annan. It is long past time to confront the real policy choices.

No one is arguing for military intervention on the order of Afghanistan or Iraq. But the Obama administration should explain why Washington should not be playing an overt, forceful role in organizing and arming the Syrian opposition and exploring with Turkey a coalition of countries to create sanctuaries along the Syrian border, where the opposition could regroup and organize. It should also consider under what circumstances an intervention like the one in Libya might be possible, desirable or both.

If the Obama administration believes that staying largely aloof and leaving others to provide the force behind the Syrian opposition is less risky than a more forceful engagement, let it make that case. But the administration should stop hiding behind the pretense that a negotiation with the butchers of Damascus can do anything but prolong Syria’s agony. The longer that goes on, the worse the aftermath will be. Syria will be more badly broken, with more bloody scores to settle and more power in the hands of the extremists whose specter is too often invoked to justify inaction.

Whole thing here.

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