The PJ Tatler

'Rational Actors,' the Sequel

Today Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flies to London to talk Somalia with David Cameron, then continues on to Tunisia for a “Friends of Syria” conference beginning Friday. Dozens of nations have been invited to sit down with leaders of the Syrian opposition to discuss what can be done to stop the bloodshed across the country. Russia is a friend of Bashar al-Assad, not Syria, and doesn’t care about the bloodshed, so turned down the invitation on the grounds that Assad wasn’t invited. China, that other Syria BFF at the UN Security Council, is still studying their invitation so they can at least momentarily give the impression of not putting tyrants first.

Meanwhile, the shelling and snipers and killing continues unabated, including the loss of Rami Al-Sayyed, a 27-year-old citizen journalist who was among the first to volunteer to film protests and abuses by the regime (here’s his YouTube channel, SyriaPioneer, with 844 videos). According to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria:

“These achievements made him a target of security forces, which subjected him to several assassination attempts. One of these attempts occurred recently, just before his death, when a sniper fired directly at him. However, Rami managed to escape in time. Five days ago, the regime’s army became aware of his live broadcast and his location, and targeted him with artillery shells. He was wounded by shrapnel but survived. Yesterday Rami suffered another round of shelling and was hit by shrapnel while helping a family to seek shelter in a safer neighborhood. Activists were unable to remove him from the neighborhood to a safer location due to the nonstop shelling. He bled to death at the local field hospital.”

The State Department press briefing on Syria yesterday sounded a bit like the tone taken with Iran by Gen. Martin Dempsey, who called the regime a “rational actor” capable of and even willing to negotiate while they threaten to wipe Israel off the map.

“Let’s start with whether we can get Assad to understand that the violence he is perpetrating against his own people has to end,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.

He won’t. Next?

“What we are concerned about is that despite the 137 votes in the UN General Assembly, despite the fact that the sanctions that we are all bringing to bear on Syria are beginning to bite in a very serious way on the Syrian economy, the lesson that he’s taking from this is to escalate the violence and to bring more pressure onto these cities in Syria,” Nuland said.

I can’t imagine where he learned that lesson.

“If we cannot get him to heed the view of his own people or of the international community, we don’t rule out additional measures. I’m not going to speculate what those may be,” she added. “What we are focused on now is increasing the pressure on him to get him to stop.”

Bashar laughs his Assad off. And reloads.