Daily Meme: Syria, Right Where We Left It Pre-Shutdown

  • A new report from The New York Times today sheds light on a crisis forgotten in the shadow of the shutdown: our long, tangled debate over what to do with Syria.
  • (In case you need an update on the conflict, the BBC has an excellent primer.)
  • It turns out that Obama's misgivings about an airstrike mirrors U.S. public opinion.
  • "Advisers reflected Mr. Obama’s own conflicting impulses on how to respond to the forces unleashed by the Arab Spring: whether to side with those battling authoritarian governments or to avoid the risk of becoming enmeshed in another messy war in the Middle East.”
  • A lot has happened since the United States went into ostrich mode, sticking its head in the sand to avoid all contact with the outside world while we proceeded to embarrass ourselves mightily over the shutdown. 
  • First, Assad's chemical-weapons stockpile is being dismantled on schedule. United Nations inspectors expect to finish the job by November 1. 
  • The United States and ten other countries are planning a peace summit in Geneva for next month. Moderate Assad opponents have not agreed to attend, but Secretary of State John Kerry continues to court them aggressively: "You can win at the negotiating table what it may take a long time and a lot of... loss of life to win on the battlefield."
  • Although the conflict's denouement seems promising and within reach outside Syria's borders, the details on the ground remain grim. Rebels are being starved out by the government across a wide swath of the country.
  • Sectarian differences in refugee camps are growing less opaque, and threaten to fuel discontent among the fleeing Syrian civilians and the country's that temporarily house them.
  • Children have been a major part of the bloodshed. 
  • More than 100 doctors have been killed. More than 600 have been imprisoned. 
  • At least 114 journalists have died in Syria since 2011. 

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