Can Syria's Dictator Reform?

(Washington Post) Editorial - "Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he's a reformer." Thus did Secretary of State Hillary Clinton respond to a question on Sunday about Bashar al-Assad, the latest Arab dictator to respond with fusillades to calls by his people for democratic change. Clinton was only reflecting a piece of wishful thinking to which the Obama administration and its congressional allies have tenaciously clung: that Mr. Assad, despite his brutality, sponsorship of terrorism and close alliance with Iran, can somehow be turned into a Western ally. We don't believe that Mr. Assad could deliver on promises of reform even if he wished to. His minority Alawite sect would quickly lose power in a more democratic system. Most likely the dictator is seeking to deflect the demands for change with a mixture of violence and false promises. If that proves to be the case, the Obama administration and others who have reached out to Mr. Assad should be ready to respond - by siding decisively with those in Syria seeking genuine change.

2011-03-30 00:00:00

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