De lessen van Syrië

PRINCETON – Nu de Verenigde Staten en Rusland proberen een conferentie te organiseren, die alle partijen in het Syrische conflict aan de onderhandelingstafel kan brengen, moeten mogelijke westerse deelnemers op z'n minst nadenken over de bredere implicaties van het Syrische conflict voor dictaturen en democratieën over de hele wereld. Hier zijn de lessen tot nu toe:

De 'bad guys' helpen hun vrienden. De Russen en Iraniërs zijn bereid al het mogelijke te doen om president Bashar al-Assad in het zadel te houden. Hezbollah, bevoorraad door Iran, heeft zich nu openlijk op het slagveld begeven om het regime van Assad te steunen. Rusland en Iran zijn de Syrische regering blijven voorzien van zware wapens en andere militaire steun. Zo hebben de Russen moderne anti-scheepsraketten met geavanceerde radarsystemen geleverd. Deze zullen Assad helpen zich te verschansen en alle indringers te weren uit een Alawitische ministaat, waartoe de aan de Russen geleasede havenfaciliteit in Tartus zal behoren.

Diplomatie zonder een geloofwaardige dreiging met geweld is loos gepraat. “Spreek zacht, maar met een grote stok achter de hand”, adviseerde Theodore Roosevelt. President Barack Obama wil in mondiale aangelegenheden liever met civiele dan met militaire macht leiding geven; hij begrijpt dat militaire oplossingen voor buitenlands-politieke problemen heel duur zijn en dikwijls contraproductief, in termen van het bevorderen van de Amerikaanse veiligheid en welvaart op de langere termijn.

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