The art of political leadership “rests on calculating costs and benefits and exercising judgment when the balance is unclear,” writes Anne-Marie Slaughter (left), a former policy planning director in the U.S. State Department:
No one speaks for the Syrian people in the Oval Office every morning. No one adds up the costs of betraying, yet again, what America claims to stand for, even while witnessing people willing to march – in the face of bullets – for precisely those universal values: dignity, freedom, democracy, and equality. The cost is yet another generation of Middle Eastern youth who will believe the worst about the US, no matter how far-fetched the rumor or extreme the claim……..No one points out the huge opportunity cost of what could have been and what could still be – albeit barely – if the US took decisive action to save tens of thousands of Syrian lives and possibly tip the balance of the conflict.
It is unlikely that Washington will act before November’s presidential election, says Slaughter, a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy:
The only chance….is if countries in the region – Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates – call openly for US leadership. They should remind Obama of what foreign-policy experts Nina Hachigian and David Shorr have recently called “the responsibility doctrine”: great powers have an active responsibility to uphold global norms and solve global problems.