Russia and Iran—for separate but compatible reasons—have cut through the fog and confusion by holding to two objectives: keep Bashar al-Assad in power; and then demographically blackmail the West into paying for the rebuilding of Syria under the auspices of a corrupt and incompetent regime. As the West ties itself in policy knots, objecting loudly but impotently to Assad regime war crimes while trying to end (at long last) a three-plus-year war against a collection of armed rapists, pickpockets, and bank robbers in eastern Syria, Moscow and Tehran attend to business.
First: so long as civilians are targeted effortlessly by a terrorist regime, nothing good can result; not for Syrians, not for their neighbors, not for the West.
Second, the defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) offers a one-time, perishable opportunity to produce a visible, functioning alternative to Bashar al-Assad: precisely the thing whose absence accounts for ongoing regime support by a significant minority of Syrians.
Part one of “Syria at Seven” addresses the geopolitical importance of pushing back against the slaughter of civilians in Syria. Part two will examine making something of lasting value from the defeat of ISIS.