Thursday, October 30, 2014

"Time Is Running Out" - Syria Edition

Clock tower in Al-Qusayr in western Syria (Photo: Lyse Doucet/BBC/Twitpic)

In mainstream political commentary, urgency is key. When crises arise - or linger - those in the media, in tandem with politicians and think tank apparatchiks, urge the government to do something, to act, oftentimes by military means. Drop bombs here! Send weapons to those groups there!

In his latest column for The Daily Beast, veteran journalist and Voice of America broadcaster Jamie Dettmer reports that the Obama administration's plan to train and arm rebels in Syria to defeat ISIS and, consequently, force Bashar al-Assad to negotiate an end to the ongoing civil war is effectively a fantasy.

"The rebels are squabbling among themselves as suspicions rage about American designs and intentions," Dettmer writes, adding later that "rebel commanders" complain "that U.S. neglect and Washington’s refusal to arm them with advanced weaponry deprived them of the leverage to discipline fighters and to keep them loyal and to halt defections to jihadist groups."

So what does Dettmer propose? Well, nothing at all. But his headline writers, in their infinite wisdom and perhaps most favored refrain, insist that "time is running out."

Of course, when there's no real plan, military solution, or political will to solve an international conundrum or overcome an diplomatic impasse, rhetorical expediency tells us that time is always running out. We've heard it for decades from Afghanistan to Iran to Iraq to Lebanon to Palestine. Shout it from the rooftops: Time is running out!

For over three years, we've heard the same about Syria. Here are some highlights:

The Daily Beast, October 30, 2014:

The Hill, October 1 , 2014:

The Times (UK), January 13, 2014:

New York Times, September 14, 2013:

The Hill, September 3, 2013:

CNN, September 2, 2013:

CNN, August 22, 2013:

CNN, July 3, 2013:

European Commission, April 23, 2013:

Washington Post, March 18, 2013:

Foreign Policy, December 19, 2012:

Ha'aretz, August 7, 2012:

National Journal, August 6 2012:

NBC Nightly News, July 8, 2012:

ABC News, June 30, 2012:

Reuters, May 31, 2012:

Associated Press, April 25, 2012:

Los Angeles Times, April 8, 2012:

The Times of Israel, February 24, 2012:

New York Times, February 6, 2012:

The Economist, November 19, 2011:

Reuters, July 1, 2011:


No comments: