How much longer can the world stand by while Syrian dictator
If there were any remaining doubt as to whether Mr. Assad might see reason and accept the peace proposals put forward by U.N. envoy
Mr. Annan's peace initiative, a well-intentioned but ineffectual last-ditch effort to keep Syria's crisis from spiraling out of control, is dead in all but name. On Tuesday, the former U.N. secretary general met with Mr. Assad to deliver the blunt message that the time for diplomacy has run out and that unless he agrees to abide by the cease-fire he promised to honor in April, his government faced the prospect of international military intervention. That same day, the U.S. joined Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia, Bulgaria and Canada in expelling Syrian diplomats to emphasize the regime's isolation.
A spokesman for Mr. Annan declined to answer questions about Mr. Assad's response to the Annan ultimatum, but given his repeated lies in the past — and after the massacre at Houla — it's doubtful anyone, including his chief remaining backers, Russia and China, can accept anything he says as credible. Both countries signed on to the tough resolution condemning Mr. Assad's butchery that the U.N. Security Council passed this week, suggesting even their patience is wearing thin. Iran may now be the only country in the world that hopes Mr. Assad can hang on.
In hindsight, it's clear that Mr. Annan's peace mission was probably doomed from the start. It never could have worked to restrain the type of leader Mr. Assad has proved himself to be — a criminal madman and mass murderer who by the U.N.'s estimate has slaughtered more than 10,000 of his citizens in the 15 months since they rose against his rule. In that, he is following in the footsteps of his father, former Syrian President Hafez Assad, who killed some 30,000 Syrians during the 1980s to put down an uprising. The younger Mr. Assad's brutality will not end until he is driven from power, and the sooner the better.
Americans are understandably wary of getting involved in another Mideast war, as are their counterparts in Europe, and they certainly don't want to have to bankroll another expenditure of lives and treasure unilaterally. Mr. Assad is obviously betting the U.S. and its allies won't even have the will to intervene on the model of
General Dempsey conceded that the outcome of military confrontation was unpredictable and that it should be reserved as a last resort. We know even less about the Syrian opposition than we did about the forces that opposed