Rafik Hariri Center Senior Fellow Frederic Hof writes for the New Republic on General Martin Dempsey’s remarks to the Atlantic Council regarding the conflict in Syria:
One would gather two broad conclusions from General Dempsey’s words: Syria, its people, and (for that matter) the civilized world would not necessarily be better off with Assad, his family, and his cronies quickly gone; and there is nothing afoot in terms of American policy to correct the governance deficiencies he itemized. For the visiting officials of the Syrian National Coalition the general’s remarks amount to a reality check if not a slap across the face.
It is quite true that the departure of the Assad regime would not, per se, spare Syria years or even decades of acute hardship. All the more reason for the United States and its allies to work with Syrian counterparts to design and implement a governance project covering all of liberated Syria: something strongly advocated by this writer in and out of government. It is simply not enough to recognize the Syrian National Coalition as the legitimate representative of 23 million Syrians. Neither is it enough to recognize that organization’s offices in the United States as foreign missions. What matters is people providing governmental services, starting with security, in areas that would otherwise be run by an Iran-dependent regime or by radical Islamists. “Recognition” has a nice ring to it. But as General Dempsey suggests, it means nothing where it really matters: inside Syria.