What we see in Syria now illustrates the inability of global leaders to lead and offer strategic vision of engagement with each other that would enable a more constructive and pragmatic approach to problem-solving. Not only does this harm great power interests but with a look at the ever worsening humanitarian crisis in and around Syria it also makes a mockery of the values they purport to defend.
Military action, limited or otherwise, is not the answer to the much more fundamental problems that the region faces and poses. It is likely not even part of that answer. The quicker we move beyond the narrow debate over military responses to a more comprehensive strategy, the better for Syria, the Arab Spring, and ultimately for us.
Within the countries of the Arab Spring, the forces unleashed by the sudden opening of political spaces were largely inexperienced, remain fearful and intolerant of each other, and were easily manipulated in regional and global proxy conflicts.
The international community’s capacity for conflict management remains a potentially highly effective, albeit not flawless, instrument for managing a wide range of security challenges, which, however, will be applied, as it always has, selectively and in line with the national interests of the great powers.
The international community must remain realistic about the speed and comprehensiveness of the success of the Arab Spring but should remain committed and determined in its support of the genuine democratic aspirations of the people who have started these revolutions.