Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘The Coalition That Isn’t’

Full piece here.

The options were never good in Syria, they were bad and protracted Civil War worse. Now that IS has sprung-up from that protracted Civil War worse, and spilled over into Iraq, we’ve got a national security threat similar, or greater to, that in Afpak.  Most recently, after withdrawing our leadership, and having severely lowered our profile in the region and fumbled around incoherently, it’s unlikely we can field a coalition of willing partners.

Would you join a U.S. coalition in an act of war under such leadership, given past redlines, even if your national interests were at stake, and even if you happened to ally with many U.S. interests on this issue?

The logic of the threat compels us forward, dragging, apparently, this President along.


‘If we have no Sunni state allies willing to do the military scut work, and if we are not willing to attack Assad regime and Hizballah targets in Syria to show that we are not acting as a regional Shi‘a air force, then we have not acquired the means to accomplish the end: the extirpation of ISIS.’

For my part, hopefully it’s clearer now that the wages of community activism include having a President who constantly thinks in terms of politics, the base, and well, activism and ideology, even in matters of national security.  Some of this is political and has to do with the midterms and ‘optics.’

‘It is all well and good to point out that the President is largely to blame for his paucity of decent options—and it happens also to be true. It is true that, had he acted with a judicious use of U.S. power in the early stages in the Syrian civil war, he very well might have avoided the mess that he, and the nation with him, are in now. Plenty of people urged him, and plenty of people warned him—both inside his own Administration and out—that passivity would exact the highest price of all. He ignored them all.’

So, here we are.  Deja vu.

I keep putting this Kissinger quote up:

Book here.

“The purpose of bureaucracy is to devise a standard operating procedure which can cope effectively with most problems.  A bureaucracy is efficient if the matters which it handles routinely are, in fact, the most frequent and if its procedures are relevant to their solution.  If those criteria are met, the energies of the top leadership are freed to deal creatively with the unexpected occurrence or with the need for innovation.  Bureaucracy becomes an obstacle when what it defines as routine does not address the most significant range of issues or when its prescribed mode of action proves irrelevant to the problem.”


“Moreover, the reputation, indeed the political survival, of most leaders depends on their ability to realize their goals, however these may have been arrived at.  Whether these goals are desireable is relatively less crucial.”

Kissinger, Henry. American Foreign Policy:  Three Essays.  New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc.  1969.


When does reality enter into it?

From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’Lawrence Wright At The New Yorker: ‘The Man Behind Bin Laden’

Keeping An Eye On Syria-From Vice: ‘Rojava-Syria’s Unknown War’

More Syria-From Via Media: ‘Congress on Syria: Going In On A Wing and A Prayer’From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’

Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘Syria’s Regime Not Worth Preserving’A Few More Syria Links-’Unmitigated Clusterf**k?’

From Reuters: ‘Analysis: Syrian Kurds Sense Freedom, Power Struggle Awaits’

Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’…Liberal Internationalism is hobbling us, and the safety of even the liberal internationalist doctrine if America doesn’t lead…Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

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