From Al Arabiya News: ‘Syrian Kurds Declare Autonomous Government’

Full piece here.

Many in Turkey are no doubt unhappy about this, as they’ve got their own Kurdish problems in the southeast:

‘Long oppressed under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his father before him, Kurds view the civil war as an opportunity to gain the kind of autonomy enjoyed by their ethnic kin in neighboring Iraq.’

Why is this important?  Well, it could really change our fortunes in that region, and the Iraqi Kurds, certainly, are strong supporters of America:

See Michael Totten’s piece here.

Totten interviewed Dr. Sherkoh Abbas a few years ago, leader of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria.  The interview finishes with Abbas saying the following:

‘Full scale civil war. It has already started. Syria could change from a failed dictatorship to something that looks like Somalia or Afghanistan, or—at best—Lebanon during its civil war. The fighting will continue and Syria could become a haven for Islamists.

The United States should work with Russia and create a federal system. Russian interests can be guaranteed in an Alawite state while American and Israeli interests can be guaranteed in Syrian Kurdistan.’

The Kurds see a window, however, and they do show strong support for the U.S,, as Totten notes:

‘Most Kurds are Sunni Muslims, but the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamist groups have never been able to get much traction in that community. The Muslim Brotherhood is an exclusively Sunni organization, and it’s also, for the most part, an Arab one. Rather than viewing Islam as “the solution” to what ails them, most Kurds in Syria as well as Iraq view freedom and independence as the solution, along with an alliance with the U.S. and Israel.’

See Dexter Filkins’ post here.

‘Kurdistan, a self-governing region, has a decadelong head start on the rest of Iraq, and it has peace, too. For that, it can thank—and Kurds do thank—the United States, and especially for the no-fly zone, erected in 1991, that kept Saddam’s armies at bay, until the U.S. took him and his government down, twelve years later. The Kurds are reaping the fruits.’

Will it stick?  They’re only about 15% of the population, but it shows you how unstable the Syrian situation is.

In his book Where The West EndsTotten described visiting Northern Iraq briefly as a tourist with a friend, and the general feeling of pro-Americanism in Kurdish Northern Iraq that generally one can only feel in Poland, parts of the former Yugoslavia etc.

***A pretty damned good overview of Syria for the non-initiated, including what’s been going on since 2011 and the backstory at the thehowardbealeshow. Recommended. Really.

Related On This Site: Longer odds, lots of risk: Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest’s Via Media: “The Rise Of Independent Kurdistan?”From Reuters: ‘Analysis: Syrian Kurds Sense Freedom, Power Struggle Awaits’

From The National Interest-Syria Links

Here.

From the Brzezinski interview:

‘I think if we tackle the issue alone with the Russians, which I think has to be done because they’re involved partially, and if we do it relying primarily on the former colonial powers in the region—France and Great Britain, who are really hated in the region—the chances of success are not as high as if we do engage in it, somehow, with China, India and Japan, which have a stake in a more stable Middle East. That relates in a way to the previous point you raised. Those countries perhaps can then cumulatively help to create a compromise in which, on the surface at least, no one will be a winner, but which might entail something that I’ve been proposing in different words for more than a year—namely, that there should be some sort of internationally sponsored elections in Syria, in which anyone who wishes to run can run, which in a way saves face for Assad but which might result in an arrangement, de facto, in which he serves out his term next year but doesn’t run again’

It’s liberal, it’s internationalist, but at least it’s a suggestion.  This blog is looking for ideas as to what could be done.

Foreign policy statesmen can become quite unrooted from daily politics and public sentiment at home, playing the grand chess game, doing what we want them to do, really, which is traveling all the time, being shrewd diplomats, knowing who the players are and building up contacts and experiences and what’s happening politically on the ground in other countries.   Usually, they can offer-up strategy and counsel, connecting their ideals with their practical knowledge and experience and putting it in front of our elected leaders for possible action, and in front of the people for better understanding and possible persuasion.

Related On This Site:  A Few More Syria Links-’Unmitigated Clusterf**k?’

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’James Kirchik At The American Interest: 

Michael Totten’s piece that revisits a Robert Kaplan piece from 1993, which is prescient:  “A Writhing Ghost Of A Would-Be Nation”.  It was always a patchwork of minority tribes, remnants of the Ottoman Empire

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

Is Bernhard Henri-Levy actually influencing U.S. policy decisions..? From New York Magazine: ‘European Superhero Quashes Libyan Dictator’Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others

Via Circa: ‘US And Russia Reach Agreement On Seizing Syria’s Chemical Weapons’

Full post here.

‘After 2 days of talks in Geneva, Sec. John Kerry and Russian FM Sergei Lavrov have agreed a framework for Syria handing over their chemical weapons — a move which looks likely to avert a military strike. Kerry said the agreement will be backed by a Security Council resolution that could allow for sanctions if Syria reneges on its obligations.’

From what I’ve heard, read, and been able to piece together:

Addition: Avik Roy interviews Eli Lake At Richochet about who we might be able to support, and how.

What we can hope for is that this is really buying Obama time to hopefully regroup and come up with a strategy.  We’re seeing an exercise in what a lack of American power, strategy, and leadership would look like in the region and sending signals more broadly in the world that we’re not necessarily on top of things (think of it as..ahem…an exercise).

This has given Putin a chance to take advantage of our weakness and advance his interests, like continuing to supply the Assad regime and the Iranians with arms, and get back at us for trying to assist democracy in Ukraine.  He sees any U.S. strikes, anywhere, as something of a threat.  His interests are ideologically and practically opposed to ours, for the most part.  Vlad’s been shrewd and played us like a mob boss plays a flailing mayor.  The mob boss doesn’t even live in the city.

Assad has been thrown a lifeline but it’s not that much, as he is in a bitter, sectarian, Civil War in which defeat likely means death for him, his family, and many Alawis in high government and military positions.   He’s got chemical weapons and they, pretty much, are not likely to go anywhere.  The conflict rages on, and it includes:

A brutal dictatorship meeting the high youth population and the ‘Arab Spring.’

An ethnic, sectarian patchwork of loyalties and alliances

Redrawn colonial maps and a familiar split between Islam and Arab nationalism, between the Muslim Brotherhood and the secular, semi-socialist Baathists

The VERY bitter Sunni/Shia divide

The backdrop of the Iran regime’s aim to have deliverable nukes and be the big dog in the region, (they really do state-sponsor terrorism for leverage and to mess with everyone else).  Russia and the U.S. still are still playing chess in the region, the Russians using Iran and Syria as their leverage.  Israel is watching all of this closely.  Saudi Arabia has turned toward Moscow.

================================

This may sound a little harsh, but what if you held an ‘international community’ rally promoting peace with the possibility of war, and only Putin and Assad showed up?  You didn’t even know what to write on the banner.  The U.N. was too disorganized to show up.  No Britain.  No Australia.  No Canada.  No Europe.  No glorious moment where ‘moderate’ Muslims sweep the terrorists away amidst cheers of solidarity and peace and everybody feels good.  The socialist Francois Hollande calls and says he likes your ideas and may want to participate.

During the rally you may get Putin and Assad to sign in at the front table and you try to take a picture with them in front of the Geneva Conventions, but that’s about it.

Here are two quotes from Henry Kissinger:

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.”

and:

“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.

Positive suggestions?  At least show leadership for the ideals we’re claiming to believe in, like assisting with the humanitarian crisis and trying to help all countries ringing Syria deal with the flow of refugees.  Keep trying to maintain a lifeline with that group of Syrians stuck in a Civil War who aren’t radicals, or at least will have to live there when it’s over.  No, we don’t need relocate them here, necessarily.  Keep reassuring Israel.  Try and make the most of the situation with the Turks.  Offer the arms and black and spec ops that we are.  Keep trying to maintain our alliances, with you know, our allies…

Anyone?

Related On This Site:  A Few More Syria Links-’Unmitigated Clusterf**k?’

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’James Kirchik At The American Interest: 

Michael Totten’s piece that revisits a Robert Kaplan piece from 1993, which is prescient:  “A Writhing Ghost Of A Would-Be Nation”.  It was always a patchwork of minority tribes, remnants of the Ottoman Empire

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

Is Bernhard Henri-Levy actually influencing U.S. policy decisions..? From New York Magazine: ‘European Superhero Quashes Libyan Dictator’Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others

A Few More Syria Links-‘Unmitigated Clusterf**k?’

A pretty damned good overview of Syria for the non-initiated, including what’s been going on since 2011 and the backstory at the thehowardbealeshow. Recommended. Really.

Julia Ioffe at the New Republic-‘The Syria Solution: How Obama Got Played By Putin & Assad’

What do you do when you have little to no strategy, a map that isn’t lining up with events, and no clear vision of what you want to achieve?:

This, to borrow a phrase from a Congressional staffer at his wits’ end, “is an unmitigated clusterfuck.”

Strong language, but, you know, perhaps quite appropriate here.  This blog is generally more skeptical of the liberal internationalist ideals and the human rights crowd running foreign policy, because no matter how successful the realpolitik, they can often put the cart before the horse.  I suspect few people expected the cart to be unhooked from the horse and left in the mud for a few years.

‘As it stands now, Russia and France have taken the lead on working out a plan to get Assad to hand over his chemical weapons, a lead Obama seems all too happy to relinquish. Hammering out the details will take a some time, and, while they’re at it, Assad will still have his chemical weapons but will no longer be under the threat of a U.S. military strike. (Who knows if he’ll use them, but he certainly hasn’t let up on the conventional shelling.) Putin has succeeded in throwing sand in the gears of the American political process and separating the U.S. from its allies, and the current American handwringing over Syria seems likely to grind on for weeks. And a pro-Assad paper ran with the following headline this morning: “Moscow and Damascus Pull the Rug Out From Under the Feet of Obama.”

Our foe, the obviously undemocratic Putin, has come to rescue our cart!  Of course, by opportunistically taking advantage of our leadership vacuum and uniting Russian opinion against us.  Our profile and influence diminish further.  Assad, our clear foe and ruthless dicator thug stays in power, maybe the chemical weapons the Russians have been supplying to him are taken away, but probably not.  The Civil war continues and continues to spill out all over the place.

That’s if Putin is even serious.

Meanwhile, our allies and possible alliances remain ignored, unconvinced, or can be seen turning away with looks of disbelief, back to their own politics to play this for what they can and pursue their own interests as they see fit, perhaps at our expense.   At the same time, our enemies, like Al Qaeda, remain under little to no pressure from anyone to become more ‘moderate,’ while Iran’s regime keeps one foot in the ‘international community’ pretending to be civil, with the other kicking furiously towards deliverable nuclear weapons, the Shia crescent, and regional domination.

At home, public opinion remains strongly against this war, and deeply skeptical of our political leadership.

I fail to see much upside here.

Dan Drezner tries to spin this deal into something tolerable, perhaps some kind of victory towards inducing foes and bad actors towards the goal of international law and the Geneva Conventions, but, think about it:  A gaffe made by Kerry is pounced upon by Putin and Assad in order to help our President out of his own corner…towards international cooperation:

‘Despite a series of mistakes, screw-ups, u-turns, and flubs, it’s possible that the Obama administration can, at the end of the day, claim credit for forcing Syria’s regime into relinquishing its chemical weapons stockpile and signing on to the convention banning its use.

Take the deal. Take it now.’

Here’s to hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.

Addition:  Get ready for the President’s speech, and the refrain that this was a war averted and brilliant game of chess by the President.  The ideals were advanced.  All is well.

Related On This Site: 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’James Kirchik At The American Interest: 

Michael Totten’s piece that revisits a Robert Kaplan piece from 1993, which is prescient:  “A Writhing Ghost Of A Would-Be Nation”.  It was always a patchwork of minority tribes, remnants of the Ottoman Empire

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

Is Bernhard Henri-Levy actually influencing U.S. policy decisions..? From New York Magazine: ‘European Superhero Quashes Libyan Dictator’Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others

More Syria-From Via Media: ‘Congress on Syria: Going In On A Wing and A Prayer’

Essay here.

‘In voting to authorize force against Syria, Congress will be hoping for a short and inconsequential war; Syria, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, however, will all get to vote on what kind of war we actually have.’

Worth a read.

There is a very strong current of isolationism and war-weariness in American life right now.  Public opinion is really not in favor of a war.  Combine this with a deep and general mistrust of our elected officials as well, and Obama’s managed to split the difference and unite many anti-war progressive democrats and usually more pro-war Republicans stronger on national defense against involvement in Syria.

That’s quite a feat.

His domestic base must feel he’s turned on them, because after all, the civil rights crowd, the 60’s idealists, the progressives, the anti-war movement and the peaceniks, the human rights crowd etc. are not overtly interested in a war (where are the protests?).  There is, however, a group of liberal internationalist realpolitikers, liberal hawks, realists and a more general group of established policymakers who realize how serious the stakes are, especially with the use of chemical weapons on the line.

Those on the right that I’ve spoken with pretty much don’t trust the President at all.  After all, they’re pretty much bitter clingers to him, assaulted daily as he’s politicking against them, sometimes in bad faith.   As with the liberal interventionists though, there are establishment Republicans, realists, and others who may not like having the military be guided by Obama nor his ideals, but also realize how much is at stake, and see the end game with Iran very much in play.

A pretty damned good overview of Syria for the non-initiated, including what’s been going on since 2011 and the backstory at the thehowardbealeshow. Recommended. Really.

The President may lose the House.  A larger-scale intervention may already be in the works.

A liberal managerial difference-splitter with a further Left base?  Who is this guy, and what assurance do we have that he’ll do what’s necessary to define a mission, and see a war through?

He couldn’t possibly still be thinking he’s read the Arab Spring correctly, could he?

AdditionJames Taranto:

‘This column favors military action against Syria if it is backed by a strategic purpose and resolute leadership. But Obama, Kerry and McCain all come across as desperate men who feel they have something to prove. That emotional state is a further reason to be cautious about entrusting them with lethal weapons.’

Bonus:  We’ve always had to take sides, especially during the Cold War:

Addition: Should we now?

————-

Addition: Foreign Affairs has good coverage.  What are our options?

Related On This Site: …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’James Kirchik At The American Interest: 

Michael Totten’s piece that revisits a Robert Kaplan piece from 1993, which is prescient:  “A Writhing Ghost Of A Would-Be Nation”.  It was always a patchwork of minority tribes, remnants of the Ottoman Empire

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

Is Bernhard Henri-Levy actually influencing U.S. policy decisions..? From New York Magazine: ‘European Superhero Quashes Libyan Dictator’Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others

Brzezinski Discusses Obama’s Administration’s Syria Policy On 06/14/13

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Update:   Boehner is on board.  Are we pretty much in a state of war?  Maybe not.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, liberal and hawkish, dialed-in, experienced and strategic, slowly realizes that Obama’s foreign policy is not particularly strategic, nor structured, but rather an untended garden of difference-splitting, politics (appealing to the civil rights crowd and pro-peace 60’s idealist coalition) and incoherence.

You’ve been hustled.

Meanwhile, the Iranian regime still marches towards deliverable nuclear weapons (organized, terrorist-sponsoring thuggery) and continues to back Assad, the Sunni Arab-World shivers and the Saudis have turned back towards Moscow to some extent.  Putin will leverage any weakness on our part for his political gain at home.  Israeli action and reaction is now more likely, the Turks are left to fend for themselves, and the Syrian sectarian conflict rages on, brutal, bloody, and violent.  Assad’s regime had been hunkering-down for 30 years, now apparently willing to test the international waters for a reaction against the use of Sarin gas.  The Syrian opposition (the better people thrust into war) has been left on its own, and all the worst actors have filled in.  This could escalate into a Civil War, and maybe a regional conflict in which we may eventually find ourselves with fewer options than we have now, still facing Iran in some capacity.

It’s hard to remember such badly conducted foreign policy, and it’s not terribly clear if well conducted foreign policy is forthcoming any time soon in American politics.

It goes to show that some of the inherent logic of our challenges remains similar from President to President.

Addition: Foreign Affairs has good coverage.  What are our options?

Related On This Site: …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’James Kirchik At The American Interest: 

Michael Totten’s piece that revisits a Robert Kaplan piece from 1993, which is prescient:  “A Writhing Ghost Of A Would-Be Nation”.  It was always a patchwork of minority tribes, remnants of the Ottoman Empire

I just received a copy of Totten’s book, Where The West Ends, and it’s good reading.

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

Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘The Looming Strike Against Syria’

Full piece here.

Does it come down to the ‘red line’ comment, backing himself into fewer options with Iran?

If Obama doesn’t enforce this, he’ll also lose credibility on the other red line he’s drawn in the Middle East—the one against Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.

He desperately wants to convince Iran to abandon that program without going to war. The only way that’s even remotely possible, however unlikely, is if the Iranian government believes he’ll declare war if it doesn’t stop at some point. So if Assad gets to step over his red line, Tehran’s rulers will have every reason to believe they can step over theirs.

The regime in Iran is using Syria as a proxy, trying to create a Shia crescent (constantly meddling in Iraq), and trying to become the big-dog in the region.  They State-sponsor terrorism, through Hizbollah and other outlets, and are still aiming to arrive at deliverable nuclear weapons.   Very little the Iranian regime says or does can be remotely trusted, and a nuclear Iran greatly destabilizes a region roiled by an Islamist resurgence (Russia sees Iran as a proxy-ally, which is why the Russians are arming Assad).

Very little economically or politically is likely going to stop the Iranians from getting what they want, including technological warfare.

Obama seems willing to use our military, and the threat of force, for his favored ideals, which are liberal internationalist, and human-rights based.  Obama’s stick is still our military, but he’s very reluctant to use it except for those ideals.  In the case of Iran and Iran via Syria, he may have committed himself to using it to some extent, while he’s still trying to form a coalition based on those ideals, which does not seem forthcoming.

Aren’t you glad Saddam’s gone?  Gadhafi?  bin-Laden?

At what cost?

How do we best protect, promote and pursue our interests going forward?

Addition: Cameron loses war vote.  Not much of a coalition here.

Another Addition:  Don’t worry, Obama’s got this.

From Walter Russell Mead who has been watching for quite some time, and still supports some kind of American action:

‘This kind of decision is exactly the kind of split the difference thinking that has gotten the President into trouble in the past. Surge in Afghanistan—but pre-announce your withdrawal. Attack Syria, but make it clear to everyone that you don’t mean anything serious by it.

That kind of thinking will not impress America’s wavering Middle East allies. It will likely not impress Butcher Assad or his friends in the Kremlin and Teheran. It will not strengthen the moderates in the Syrian opposition. It will not stop or even slow the killing. It will not bolster the President’s credibility at home. King Tarquin got a better deal.’

Many Americans may not have the stomach for it, but he finishes with:

‘The situation in Syria demands a serious response from the United States. Let’s hope that President Obama has realized at long last just how dangerous the horror in Syria has become, and that whatever steps he announces in the coming days will be only the first pieces of a coherent and hard headed approach to the steadily deteriorating situation in a region of vital interest to the United States and its allies around the world.’

Related On This Site: …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’James Kirchik At The American Interest: 

Michael Totten’s piece that revisits a Robert Kaplan piece from 1993, which is prescient:  “A Writhing Ghost Of A Would-Be Nation”.  It was always a patchwork of minority tribes, remnants of the Ottoman Empire

I just received a copy of Totten’s book, Where The West Ends, and it’s good reading.

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

Friday Quotation From Samuel Huntington

Dexter Filkins on the chemical weapons likely used by al-Assad against his own people in the Eastern suburbs of Damascus 

A quote from this piece over at the Atlantic: From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s Work

Although the professional soldier accepts the reality of never-ending and limited conflict, “the liberal tendency,” Huntington explained, is “to absolutize and dichotomize war and peace.” Liberals will most readily support a war if they can turn it into a crusade for advancing humanistic ideals. That is why, he wrote, liberals seek to reduce the defense budget even as they periodically demand an adventurous foreign policy.”

I’ll keep putting it up, as it’s so relevant. A few central quotes from this article here:

Huntington was instinctively a conservative because he valued an ordered society, but he also championed conservatism as a necessary instrument to defend liberal institutions against communism. In many of his books he attacked idealistic liberals for holding such institutions to impossible, utopian standards that undermined their effectiveness in the world.”

and:

“An iconoclast to the core, Huntington never threw his lot in with left or right. He was too statist to be a libertarian, too realist to embrace neoconservatism, and too sympathetic to nationalism, religion and the military to identify with liberal Democrats. As a conservative Democrat, then, he is an intellectual rarity.”

Too late to act with lower risk and higher gain? Ralph Peters At The NY Post: ‘Too Late For Syria’Fareed Zakaria On Youtube: ‘Stay Out Of Syria’

Joshua Landis’ blog here.

Al Jazeera live blog on Syria here.

Interesting paper here.

Update And Repost: Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

A Few Thoughts On Foreign Policy-Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Conservative Principles Of World Order’

See Also:  Google books has ‘Political Order In Changing Societies‘ and ‘Who Are We?:  The Challenges To America’s National Identity‘  (previews)available.

Huntington’s page at Harvard here.  Reihan Salam has a short piece here.

Also On This Site: Francis Fukuyama, a neconservative up until the Iraq War or so, student of Huntington’s, and author off The End Of History, has a view that modernization and Westernization are more closely united.  Yet Fukuyama envisions a Western State which has an endpoint that the minds of men might be able to know.   This breaks with Karl Marx’s end point of Communism rising from the ashes of capitalism, is more Hegelian via Alexander Kojeve in Paris, and advocates for a State that ought to be bigger than it is now in the U.S.  This requires a more moral bureaucratic class to lead us here at home and perhaps an almost one worlder-ish type Super-Government for all.  Can you see limited government, life, liberty and property from here?:  From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s WorkFrom The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel HuntingtonFrom Foreign Affairs Via The A & L Daily: ‘Conflict Or Cooperation: Three Visions Revisited’

Fareed Zakaria On Youtube: ‘Stay Out Of Syria’

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Still trying to hear good arguments…

It’s kind of bizzaro-land in our politics right now, flipped upside-down, where political incentive for those usually strong on national defense is not forthcoming for this President’s actions in Syria, even though we could see Syria coming from a mile away.

Adam Garfinkle here:

‘There is something to be learned here, and there is even a chance that some Administration principles may belatedly learn it: The mantra that the use of force, even the indirect use of force via arms provision to allies or would-be clients, should always be a last resort, is just that—a mantra with no relevance to real life. This is like, as I have said before, advising a cancer victim to wait until the very last moment to consider surgery. It epitomizes the Neville Chamberlain school of diplomacy ‘

Charles Hill and Fouad Ajami argue that this century calls for renewed American exceptionalism, and our bold leadership is necessary because if we don’t lead, someone who doesn’t share our values probably will.  Much like we took over many British projects with Truman after WWII, we needed to act in Syria. Update And Repost: Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

Too late to act with lower risk and higher gain? Ralph Peters At The NY Post: ‘Too Late For Syria’

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More from Rick Francona here.

Zakaria has been arguing that America would no longer get to be the ’director,’ and that we are seeing the rise of the rest, especially Asia.  In the new piece above, he’s now arguing that we may become little more than bit players.

Here are some previous Zakaria articles, for those interested, as I think he is a deeper analyst with a wide ranging mind, who’s hit a slightly more liberal, mass audience, sweet spot:

‘Are America’s Best Days Behind Us?

-”How To Restore The American Dream

Where he’s coming from, on this site:  Fareed Zakaria At Foreign Policy: ‘Remembering Samuel Huntington’

There was the plagiarism kerfuffle a while back.

From CBS News: ‘U.S.: Syria Used Chemical Weapons, Crossing “Red Line”

Full video and post here.

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.

Related On This SiteUpdate And Repost: Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

A Few Thoughts On Foreign Policy-Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Conservative Principles Of World Order’

Too late to act with lower risk and more gain? Ralph Peters At The NY Post: ‘Too Late For Syria’