Wednesday, December 12, 2012


it's not clear to me when is the best time to recognize a new government for a country in the midst of a civil war, but this still seems early. to be the legitimate government of a country it should, at the very least, control a portion of the territory of that country, have a functioning governmental apparatus (whether in exile or not), and a clear leader whose authority is recognized by a significant portion of the populace. i don't think the national coalition of syrian revolutionary and opposition forces has any of that.

the fact that the NYT article goes 8 paragraphs without even mentioning the group's name shows what this really is. it's not about the legitimacy of the group as a government, it's about putting pressure on the assad regime to step down. that's what announcements that come in the middle of a conflict are always really about. and yet, does anyone think that this makes the prospect of assad leaving power any more likely? it's a nice symbol. if everything turns out well, maybe years from now the u.s. will be able to point to this announcement as evidence that it backed the government of the future even when its viability was still uncertain. but other than the very speculative political benefit of being able to say that at some point, i don't think this does all that much.