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If there is anything to be learned from the sad spectacle of Western (mainly American) Syria policy over the past nearly seven years, it is that hope – accompanied only by lofty rhetoric and plaintive protest – is the emptiest and most useless of sentiments. Absent real commitment to protect Syrian civilians, 2018 and the years that follow will be marked by the emptying of a country where hope is as homeless as millions of Syrian men, women and children.Might ongoing instability in Iran persuade the supreme leader to cut losses in Syria?Other observers profess to see hope in the prospect of Russia nudging Assad toward the exits.For nearly seven years the West has, as a practical matter, downplayed the threat posed to it by the Assad regime's rape of Syria.Some who tried from the inside to shape the Obama administration's response to Assad regime atrocities at the beginning of the crime wave had no idea that the American president would forgo protecting Syrian civilians out of fear of alienating an Iran being courted for a nuclear agreement. If hope is to have any realistic role to play in Syria in 2018, the West at long last will have to see the Assad regime as the security threat it has always been. The Obama administration threw it away quite gratuitously to appease Iran.
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