June 26, 2005

Syria in the Crosshairs?

Via mini-praktike, I see that "an international consensus ha[s] emerged blaming Syria for stoking violence in Lebanon, Iraq and against Israelis." Well, true that. Syria is pretty slimy in a lot of ways. But what, pray tell, is the international community going to do about Syria? The article notes, "Rice has not said what other forms of pressure might be applied," presumably because there aren't many other forms of pressure available. We're not going to invade or start bombing. We've already thrust in the sanctions sword to the hilt. Europe, of course, could still slap down its own sanctions, but it's not clear that they want to—France and other EU countries are presumably still wary of getting dragged into a more hardline stance against Syria than they'd prefer—and it's not clear that sanctions would do any good, besides hurting the Syrian people and giving Bashar Assad an excuse to blame the West for all of his problems.

Perhaps the hope is that if Europe makes angry noises about Syria, Bashar will get worried enough to withdraw his intelligence agents from Lebanon, quit assassinating Lebanese opposition figures, and do something about the jihadist corridor leading into Iraq. But Bashar's international position just doesn't look all that weak, and maintaining some shred of control in Lebanon is obviously very important to him. The consensus seems to be that the United States has Syria by the short and curlies these days, but I don't see that at all. Not to stretch the analogy too far, but our Syria policy is starting to resemble our Cuba policy more and more each passing day. See also Fareed Zakaria's important column on the broader theme here.
-- Brad Plumer 3:55 PM || ||