Canadian Senator Hugh Segal believes Syria is the Czechoslovakia of our time. “We must act now or pay later,” he wrote (The Globe and Mail, June 22). “Syria is the canary in the coal-mine of a new cold war. It should remind us all that the price we pay for not acting is often far greater than the small price of deciding to act in the name of humanity.”
Segal has specific ideas – establishing a no-fly zone, for example – with which Henry Kissinger might well agree. He recently warned us that “we cannot afford to be driven from expedient to expedient into undefined military involvement…. In reacting to one human tragedy, we must be careful not to facilitate another.” The senator’s suggestions, however, are restrained and reasonable, and far, far better than doing nothing.
The Americans are certainly doing something. They are using all their charms trying to induce the Russians to give up their support of Syria. Moreover, according to The New York Times, a small number of C.I.A. officers is operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government. And the Saudis are also doing something: they are, so the Guardian reports, planning to pay the salaries of opposition fighters inside Syria.
In the meantime, events are taking over. The Syrians have shot down a Turkish jet. Turkey is consulting fellow members in NATO about what to do about it. Turkey has admitted the plane strayed into Syrian territory but added yesterday that it was in international airspace when it was shot down.
So now NATO will agonize. In Libya, it performed well. It may do so again.