For now, U.S. elements should remain in place. They can finish the work against ISIS, and assure that there will be no end-of-conflict land grabs by Russian or Iranian mercenaries. The Russians, too, can have their say.
But the Russians have already realized, no doubt, that they lack the financial means to fix even Syria's oil, much less it's infrastructure. The Iranians, struggling at home with a faltering economy, and earnestly seeking foreign investment, can silently disengage, as the imperatives for reconstruction take priority over sectarian conflict and hegemonic aspirations.
Will the would-be autocrats and new imperialists who saw such opportunities in Syria's tragedy let go now? Yes, if wise, mature and wealthy Europe will assert itself. Call together a Syria Reconstruction Council, hear the issues, sum the needs, and allocate the resources, conditionally. Measure progress on the ground, and hold the various parties accountable.
Something like this was tried early on in Afghanistan, not too successfully. But Syria is nearby and urgent.
It's time for Europe, backed by the U.S., to assert itself. For now, as all warring parties are exhausted, the euro can prove mightier than the sword. And a world scale tragedy could become the focus for regional cooperation and progress. It will take leadership, of course, but maybe we are now seeing the first stirrings of such leadership from Europe.
Commentary by Retired General Wesley Clark, a former NATO Supreme Allied Commander and a Senior Fellow at the UCLA Burkle Center. Follow him on Twitter @
For more insight from CNBC contributors, follow