With the UN High Commissioner for Refugees announcing early this year that the war in Syria may have claimed as many as 60,000 lives, two op-eds published late in 2012 usefully exemplify two contrasting frames that have thus far dominated international responses to the conflict—namely, the humanitarian frame and the geopolitical frame. Yet despite the apparent contrasts between these two frameworks, both reflect a similar contempt for the Syrian people and their right to self-determination. The humanitarian framing of the conflict emphasizes the scale of human suffering and the need to alleviate it, while the geopolitical frame accentuates political interests and international rivalries. Neither one prioritizes the needs and interests of the Syrian people. Let us review the two approaches in more depth.

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