Frederic C. Hof

  • Let Assad Win? That’s Already the US Policy

    Max Boot in the Post argues that letting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “win as quickly as possible” is “the way to save lives.” But the United States is not obstructing Mr. Assad’s military progress. Mr. Boot is pushing on a door that lacks even a hinge.

    Bashar al-Assad is indeed winning. Beyond outnumbered, outgunned Syrian rebels, no one stands in his way. The way he is winning, however, mandates an American response beyond talk. The terror bombing of 400,000 residents of Eastern Ghouta is but the latest episode of a multi-year campaign of mass civilian homicide.  

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  • State of Upheaval: Trump Fires Tillerson

    Rex Tillerson is out and Mike Pompeo is in.

    On March 13, US President Donald J. Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after a little more than a year on the job. Trump announced in a tweet that he is nominating Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Mike Pompeo as Tillerson’s replacement. The position requires Senate confirmation.

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  • Syria at Seven: Part Two

    The bewildering complexity of a conflict in Syria about to mark its seventh anniversary causes eyes to close and heads to shake among political leaders and their constituents throughout the West. The unanswerable question—How does this end?—plunges even the best of brains into darkness and despair.

    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.

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  • Syria at Seven: Part One

    For the United States and its allies, the beginning of wisdom in Syria is to accept and act upon two points.

    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.

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  • Hof Quoted in The New York Times on Muller's Investigation

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  • Eastern Ghouta: Will Resolution 2401 Stop the Slaughter?

    The unanimous vote in the UN Security Council for a well-meaning resolution demanding “a durable humanitarian pause for at least thirty consecutive days throughout Syria” may turn out, for the besieged 400,000 souls in Eastern Ghouta, to be the emptiest of gestures. It lacks an enforcement mechanism and contains a loophole all-but-inviting ongoing mass homicide. Unless Russia demonstrates the will and ability to put a choke collar on its criminal client, it will inescapably fall to the United States to exact a price for mass murder, if any is to be exacted at all.

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  • Hof Joins WBUR to Discuss Syria's Long-Running War

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  • Hof Joins CBS to Discuss the Latest Round of Violence in Syria

    Hof joins CBS' Face the Nation to discuss the new round of violence in the Eastern region of Syria this past week.
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  • The Slaughter of Eastern Ghouta

    Just five days ago, in this blog, this writer assessed the possibility of Russia playing a positive role in ending Syria’s armed conflict. The following words proposed the test:

    If the mass murder of Syrian civilians continues—and especially if Russian pilots participate in it—Washington and its partners may safely conclude with respect to Russian benign intentions in Syria what Gertrude Stein saw in Oakland, California: ‘There’s no there there.’ Moscow knows quite well that civilized discussions over constitutional clauses cannot take place while the constituents of one party are being terrorized, vaporized, and scattered to the winds by the warplanes and artillery of the other. Will it stop the mass murder? Can it? We shall see.”

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  • Assad’s Forces Are Killing Dozens of Children in a Damascus Suburb

    Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s forces have unleashed an unrelenting bombardment of the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta that has killed hundreds—many of the victims are women and children—over the past few days.

    The United Nations (UN) has warned that the situation is “spiraling out of control.” The Assad regime has reportedly not even spared hospitals and schools. Targeted attacks on these locations could be tantamount to war crimes.

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