A man stands in a building damaged by what activists said were air strikes from forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo, December 2013
Stringer / REUTERS

Earlier this month, Geir Pedersen, Norway’s ambassador to China and a former permanent representative to the United Nations, was appointed special envoy on the Syria conflict. He replaces the veteran Italian-Swedish negotiator Staffan de Mistura, who for four years tried but failed to end the bloody civil war.

Syria has been brutalized for nearly eight years now. Eight years is the lifetime of a third-grade child. It is also two years longer than the total duration of World War II. And in those last two years, instead of winding down as all of its actors have grown exhausted, Syria’s crisis has actually escalated.

The effect on Syrian society has been catastrophic. The rising generation has known nothing but war. Six million people are displaced inside the country, and five million more have left as refugees. Nearly 14 million—out of a prewar population of 22 million—need humanitarian assistance. Syria

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  • JANINE DI GIOVANNI is a Senior Fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute of Global Affairs, a former Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and the author, most recently, of The Morning They Came for Us: Dispatches from Syria.
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