I remember February of 2005, mid-month, when Dennis Ross told a room full of USC Law students that he “wouldn’t take out an insurance policy” on Bashar Assad’s regime. And yet here it is, some time later, and Brammertz has sunken into the mists, and Assad lives on. In October of last year, when first I had occasion to quote Ross to good effect, it was a lot more timely to fantasize about “kicking over” the whole Syrian regime, and even carving up the state amongst its neighbors. Now holding Damascus to account has all the cachet and momentum of lobbying reform. Seizing the “historical moment” in Syria sounds now like occasion for either a laugh (rather than a cheer) or an outright jeer. But the fundamental problem of Syria — its artificiality, not just as a regime but as a geopolity — will live on quite as long as Assad does…and maybe even longer.
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