Expectations are understandably low for an international peace conference on Syria that opens Wednesday in Switzerland. It isn't just that the meeting almost didn't happen because of a dispute over whether representatives of Iran would attend.
There's also the fact that Russia, which has spearheaded the so-called Geneva II meeting with the United States, may be paying only lip service to the premise of the talks: that they will produce a "transitional governing body" in Damascus, with President
No wonder a senior U.S. official cautioned that "this is the beginning of a process. It is not going to be fast."
But even if the odds of success are long, the Obama administration was right to press for the convening of Geneva II (which will actually take place in the lakeside community of Montreux). It is at least possible that the conference will help to stop the killing, speed humanitarian assistance and lay the groundwork for a political transition.
Although Russia blocked a resolution at the
Some critics insist that instead of concentrating on the diplomatic track, the Obama administration should have made good long ago on the president's repeated statements that Assad "has to go" by providing significant military aid to rebel forces. But it's too glib to suggest that it would have been easy for the U.S. to earmark lethal assistance to the "right" rebels.