The trauma of innocent children is only the most obvious horror emerging out of the conflict zones around eastern Ghouta and Afrin in Syria. Perhaps the gravest threat is the growing possibility that miscalculation or misadventure will bring U.S. and Russian forces into direct conflict, transforming this regional nightmare into a global calamity. Distracted by its own existential crisis, the Trump administration has adopted a reactive posture. A credible plan either to complete the campaign against ISIS or contribute to ending the civil war in Syria seems beyond its reach.
At the United Nations in March, the U.S. ambassador, Nikki Haley, had strong words for her Syrian and Russian counterparts, but it is impossible to know how seriously to take the paper-rattling in New York as the mortars and missiles continue to fall over Syria.
The Trump administration should reconsider its shortsighted and inhuman restrictions on refugee resettlement, thereby signaling to the Syrian people that they are not completely bereft of hope.
The Trump administration retains some independent capacity to act. It could reconsider its shortsighted and inhuman restrictions on refugee resettlement, thereby signaling to the Syrian people that they are not completely bereft of hope. It could also begin military preparations for a defensible humanitarian relief effort for the thousands of families under siege.
And despite its abject failure to protect Syria’s noncombatants, the United Nations may yet bypass the dysfunction within its Security Council to force some meaningful action toward establishing a cease-fire. These are wan hopes, however, and Syria remains a place with little room for such.