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Published: Wednesday, 2/29/2012


Nothing settled

Warfare continues in Syria between opponents of President Bashar Assad and government security forces. Some 5,000 Syrians have died in the struggle.

A meeting late last week of representatives of 60 countries and organizations settled nothing. China and Russia, which support the Assad regime, did not attend. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton excoriated the two countries, but their support has weakened the sanctions the European Union has imposed against Syria. Russia even has sent arms to the Syrian government.

The Arab League is divided between nations that support Syria and those that favor military action against it. Iraq, which in principle should be under heavy U.S. influence, sees Syria as resisting American hegemony.

So the Syrian government's security forces slaughter its own people to defend an unpopular, religious minority regime while the world stands by. Those forces, estimated at 220,000 troops, are well armed and likely would unite to resist a foreign, especially U.S., invasion.

It is not clear what would succeed the Assad regime in Syria. The Syrian opposition is divided, disorganized, and shadowy in its composition. Al-Qaeda does not appear to be in the picture, but no one is sure that it wouldn't be an element of a successor regime.

The chaos in post-Gadhafi Libya and the growing disorder in Iraq argue against deposing even a bad government, without knowing what comes next.

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