'In Syria, the army has not faltered. The regime remains intact...'
"...This ill-conceived strategy sadly underestimated the staying power of the regime and placed too much faith in the self-executing narrative of the Arab Spring. It was hostage to the Russian refusal to be shamed and bullied into doing the right thing. As the strategy turned into a frenzy of death and misery that echoed throughout the region, the administration has been forced to clarify its objectives, including a national U.S. interest in the maintenance of the integrity of the Syrian state and its basic institutions including the security forces.
Soon after re-election Obama explained that Washington will not support an expansion of existing military efforts to topple the regime: "In a situation like Syria, I have to ask: Can we make a difference? Could it trigger even worse violence or the use of chemical weapons? What offers the best prospect of a stable post-Assad regime? And how do I weigh tens of thousands who've been killed in Syria versus the tens of thousands who are currently being killed in the Congo?"
The Congo standard for U.S. intervention closes the door on the strategy announced by the president in August 2011. In its place a far more sober and nuanced effort is unfolding, one that retains the prospect of harnessing Washington’s considerable power in support of a diplomatic outcome. This is not leading from behind, nor is it a a policy of simply arming the opposition, or winking at those who do.
Obama has evidently tired of waiting for others to do the self-evident “right thing.” Washington remains as committed as ever to a democratic transition that results in Assad's departure, but it has now opened the door in support of negotiations with all parties to achieve it. In the past, the suggestion that Assad was prepared to lose an election in 2014 could not be made in polite company. No longer. This change does not insure success, but at the very least it helps to establish a formidable and broad-based diplomatic counterweight to the killing.
Washington's pragmatic reassessment is not occurring in a vacuum. Leading members of the Syrian opposition and the government itself have made conciliatory statements in support of a diplomatic engagement. Moscow and Tehran have also added their voices to the chorus....."