Obama can't 'lead from behind' on Syria

Pathik Root | CNN

On March 30 Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gave his first speech since the start of the popular uprising in his nation. I was listening from a 12-by-12 prison cell in Damascus with 21 other inmates. I had gone to Syria to finish my junior year studying abroad after the revolution in Egypt led to the evacuation of my program there.

The Assad speech was the only time during my two weeks in prisonthat I was allowed news from the outside. Although we were all skeptical of Assad's ability to reform, I still had a sliver of hope.

After my release I supported the Obama administration's cautious stance on the Syrian revolution. I applauded the president's willingness to consider all options. However, recent developments have made it clear that Assad's opportunity to institute real reform is gone. His speech Monday was merely confirmation. Unfortunately, President Obama still clings to a "lead from behind" policy that does not reflect the realties on the ground.

Hillary Clinton's recent op-ed in Asharq Alawsat, stating that the Syrian regime is "certainly not indispensable," represented an escalation of rhetoric, but failed to adequately shift policy. It is now in America's moral and national interest to decisively guide the international community toward a future without Assad.

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