January 2013: Responding to the Syrian Crisis


Introduction to the Month's Focal PieceEditor's introduction: Responding to the Syrian Crisis

The World Next Genocide” by Simon Adams. New York Times, November 2012.

“Syria is Central to Holding Together the Mideast” by Condoleezza Rice. Washington Post, November 2012.


Philip CunliffeSyrians Crushed between Humanitarianism and Realism
by Philip Cunliffe

“The vision lying behind such demands could only be a world in which states would be judged not by the extent to which they followed the wishes of their people, but rather by the extent to which they succeeded in enforcing human security; a world in which dictators could not be overthrown by popular revolt, but only hauled off to remote international courts to be held to account by judges rather than electors; a world in which war could be waged with impunity—as long as you were able to afford precision weapons technology and had the means to drop aid packages on people after you had finished bombing them, and as long you had battalions of lawyers on hand to provide the necessary legal casuistry to approve targets and justify the endless series of humanitarian crusades that would be needed to prevent mass atrocities from breaking out.”


Eric A. HeinzeSyria: Not Libya, But Let’s Treat it like it is Anyway 
by Eric A. Heinze

“I thus conclude that Adams’ caution is very much warranted, but the safeguards he proposes are unrealistic. Meanwhile, Rice’s prescriptions are confused in their goals, based on faulty logic and evidence, and seem more like political posturing than advancing any new ideas that might stand a chance of ending this crisis and holding the region together.”


James PattisonMyths about Syria
by James Pattison

“…the lack of military intervention does not show that the RtoP has not had any impact. To be clear, more could be done by the major powers in terms of the RtoP. But RtoP advocates also admit that there will, at times, be difficult cases, where human rights violations are ongoing and there is not a clear path to tackle them…Norms alone cannot always be expected to lead to full compliance. There may be material factors linked to geopolitics or other norms that influence the case in question. But the fact that the RtoP cannot override all geopolitical concerns or other ideational factors in every case does not mean that it does not have some compliance pull.”


H.M. RoffAfter Assad: Syria’s Post-Conflict Reconstruction
by H.M. Roff

“Thus we should not focus on the Iranian boogey-man or the ineffectual workings of the ICC, but instead on the Syrian people, the Syrian economy, and Syrian development. We must hope for Syria to become a phoenix, reborn from the ashes that Assad imposed.”


show menu
quick links