“We’ve been clear that we have seen the regime in Syria use Scud missiles against its own people, and that continues,” a senior State Department official told the New York Times.’
Assad and the Alawite minority loyalists are still planning a retreat to the coast, but as the opposition gains enough strength this is likely to come to a bloody end for Assad, even after the retreat. It’s the drawn-out, civil conflict spilling over Syrian borders that was feared, with possibly over 50,000 dead so far. Regional instability is still the primary concern.
Al Jazeera live blog on Syria here.
Some in the current U.S. administration started out in human rights campaigns and then moved to security and diplomatic positions. Many have adopted realpolitik, pursuing U.S. interests relentlessly and accepting limitations. The overall framework, however, still seems to be liberal internationalist, which brings human rights to the fore, and seeks to defer U.S. interests to international laws, courts, and institutions.
The neoconservative model, which advocates the use of military force to advance our interests on our own, as well spreading our ideals of freedom and democracy through that force, ran into serious difficulties in Iraq, and is on the ropes.
The Libyan intervention was offered as a successful alternative: Rid Libyans of the tyrant to advance freedom, but do so with a light footprint and as much international support as possible. There has been some success, but it’s not clear at what current costs (ambassador Stevens, 3 Americans and a hit to freedom of speech as well as a projection of weakness) as well as future costs to American interests and security (though to be fair, this can be said about pretty much any operation).
Syria was argued as too complex, and too complicated a country for the same Libyan model to work. There’s been a Western retreat into watching Syria devolve into civil conflict, offering mild and belated support to the opposition (still betting on horses, like we did with the insurgence against the Russians in Afghanistan back in 1979), and hoping the U.N. would be able to muster something (which it really hasn’t). We’re offering some arms and other support inside Syria, and aid outside of it, but it continues to burn and molder.
The overall Obama doctrine remains unclear: Do we continue to prosecute Bush’s War On Terror with drone strikes, special operations, Navy Seals, and intel operations, while simultaneously trying to appeal to non-terrorist and ‘moderate’ Muslims?
Can we reasonably expect Russia, and China, and other Muslim nations to align with our interests through international laws and courts?
Are we making our economy strong so that trade, business and educational interests can put our better foot forward?
Are we leading by example through our commitment to our freedoms, including the freedom of speech and the political and economic freedoms that allow the human rights folks and NGO’s to flourish?
Addition: Egyptian voters adopt the Brotherhood’s constitution.
Related On This Site:Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill