Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communication:
“Any future action we take will be consistent with our national interest, and must advance our objectives, which include achieving a negotiated political settlement to establish an authority that can provide basic stability and administer state institutions; protecting the rights of all Syrians; securing unconventional and advanced conventional weapons; and countering terrorist activity,” Rhodes said.
The rebels have been fighting what’s become a brutal proxy war with all kinds of bad actors involved. From non-military aid we’ve also had SpecOps on the ground, logistics, and support for across the border countries handling refugees like Jordan. This conflict has been enflaming the fault-lines in the region and dragging on, spilling out all over the place.
Assad’s Alawite minority regime has now been confirmed using chemical weapons (we pretty much knew that already), and been holding onto power by nearly any means, getting help from Iranian Shia fighters and the Iranian government, Hezbollah, Russian money and weapons, and other assorted interests in the region.
Now it looks like we’ll be sending military aid, creating a no-fly zone, and possibly more (Addition: not confirmed, but possible Another Addition: confirmed arms to the rebels).
To my mind, this further Left President may possibly just be taking the longer way around what’s traditionally been a spectrum of American foreign policy action (I think the President really still believes in a liberal internationalist, Cairo-speech movement towards freedom, arc of history bending towards justice worldview). The Clinton team likely would have been more hawkish, having possibly acted already.
This has always been a lot to lose/little to gain problem, but here we are.
A quote from Kissinger:
‘On all sides of the Syrian conflict, the commitment of the belligerents to democratic values and alignment with Western interests is, at best, untested. Al-Qaeda has now entered the conflict, effectively on the side that the United States is being asked to join. In such circumstances, U.S. policymakers encounter a choice not between a “realistic” and an “idealistic” outcome but between competing imperfections, between considerations of strategy and of governance. We are stymied on Syria because we have a strategic interest in breaking the Assad clan’s alliance with Iran, which we are reluctant to avow, and the moral objective of saving human lives, which we are unable to implement through the U.N. Security Council.’
Joshua Landis’ blog here.
Al Jazeera live blog on Syria here.
Interesting paper here.
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