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What's Next for Assad?

5:26 PM, Aug 22, 2011 • By LEE SMITH
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The point here is not what the Syrian spokesmen are saying. (The U.S. ambassador to Lebanon said Syrian “officials at every level lie. They persist in a lie even in the face of evidence to the contrary. They are not embarrassed to be caught in a lie.”) Rather, the EU, as well as the U.S., are concerned about getting into a situation like Iraq, where democracies were held accountable for the suffering of the Iraqi people.

To be sure, sanctions hurt Iraqis as they will invariably hurt Syrians, because that is the way these regimes are designed. The problem was that Saddam considered the national wealth his own, and the same is true for the Assad regime, which is one of the reasons why the Syrian opposition has stood up.

Perhaps the more pertinent lesson to be drawn from Iraq is that sanctions may not be enough to bring down the regime. It was U.S. military might that toppled Saddam. While no one is recommending force right now, it surely isn’t a good idea to immediately discount the possibility of using it at some point. Assad has now seen what happens when the world pools its resources against a dictator who slaughters his own people. Let him fear the same.

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