Sun, Sep 13, 2015 - Page 9 News List

Compassion for refugees is not the only answer

While the outpouring of emotion toward the Syrian refugees has been moving, it is time to start addressing this problem not with our hearts, but with our heads

By Nick Kristof  /  NY Times News Service

That would end barrel bombings. Just as important, the no-fly zone would create leverage to pressure the Syrian regime — and its Russian and Iranian backers — to negotiate.

“If they can’t use their aircraft, the day after they will know they can’t survive, and that will bring them to the table,” former British diplomat Reza Afshar, who now advises the Syrian opposition through his group Independent Diplomat, said.

The aim of the talks, with no preconditions on either side, would be a ceasefire with a tweaking of boundary lines.

Look, this would be ugly. It would amount to a de facto partition of Syria and the partial survival of the regime, perhaps with a new Alawite general replacing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Yet otherwise we might be standing by as the slaughter spirals toward genocide.

Former US ambassador to Syria Robert Ford resigned because he found the Obama administration’s Syria policy indefensible, says a negotiation, even if successful, might drag on for two years as the carnage continued. Still, that is better than the alternatives.

“It’s irresponsible to throw up our hands and say there’s nothing that can be done,” he said. “Then, almost certainly things will get worse,” Ford said.

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