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Still frame from video provided by Doctors Without Borders shows a house on fire in Aleppo, Syria, Oct. 5, 2016 (Doctors Without Borders via AP).

Can the Norm of Atrocity Prevention Survive the Syrian War?

Ellen Laipson Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016

Will the next American president be able to save Syria? No. What about the international norm of preventing atrocities against civilians? Again, no. That’s ultimately the takeaway from the short exchange about Syria in Sunday’s mostly awful Town Hall-style debate between U.S. presidential hopefuls Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

While Trump is more aligned with President Barack Obama’s reticence toward escalating America’s military involvement in Syria than Clinton, neither candidate offered any big new ideas about the conflict. The long-term worry is not just about how the obvious limits to American power in this crisis will affect other issues, but also about the erosion of the international norm known as the responsibility to protect. ...

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