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Is the Clock Ticking Down to Syrian Intervention?

Kofi Annan’s mediation in Syria has largely failed. The Assad regime continues to flout a tenuous ceasefire, drawing more intense international condemnation. The New York Times is reporting that the rhetoric is heating up:

International pressure for a harsher line on Syria escalated Thursday, with the president of France calling the Syrian leader a liar, the American secretary of state moving a step closer to endorsing use of military force, and the head of the United Nations accusing the Syrian government of failing to carry out nearly every element of a peace plan that went into effect a week ago.

Elsewhere, top American defense officials acknowledged that more must be done to help Syrians. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee:

We have solid military relationships with every country on Syria’s border. . . Should we be called, our responsibility is clear: provide the secretary of defense and the president with options, and these options will be judged in terms of their suitability, their feasibility and their acceptability.

As pressure for action builds in the West, it’s important to note that the desire to get rid of Assad is as much about weakening Iran as it is about improving Syria. The Gulf sheikdoms would also welcome the hit Iran would take to its power and prestige if its greatest ally in the Middle East went down.

But however much we’re tempted, we should never forget that further intervention could easily lead to extended factional fighting or the rise of radical groups, as in Lebanon not long ago.

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  • Mrs. Davis

    Obama would be crazy to intervene. All he will do is bomb, no boots on the ground. He will not seize the initiative to drive to victory; he will lead from behind.

    But once he starts bombing, he will have picked a side but be unable to control it. It will be as bad as Libya or worse, but this time people will pay attention and it will cost him the election.

  • Ulysses S. Rant

    Our relatively easy “success” in Libya (I’d disagree with that assertion, but still…) has convinced more than a few people in D.C. — particularly those looking for ANY political advantage for the President right now — that a similar intervention in Syria would end in a similar manner, perhaps while even heading off an Israeli attack on Iran.

    But Syria is a completely different scenario, and we could get sucked into a nasty quagmire very quickly. This is dangerous territory, and the one thing that each side has in common is that they both hate our guts. The chicken hawks had best think twice before rolling the dice here.

  • Lorenz Gude

    I am not sure the clock is ticking down all that compellingly. Rather it would seem to me that any president facing an election would prefer to keep the pot boiling and not risk intervention. Again regardless of party it would better if America doesn’t intervene directly and finds more effective ways to wage proxy war against Iran which has been able to wage proxy war for years with impunity because of its alliance with Syria. Encourage the Gulf Sunnis to finance the rebellion and Turkey to provide a safe haven without actually invading. I think it is in our interests to preserve Syria as a buffer between Turkey and Egypt -not have a new Ottoman empire. That said, sometimes dictators seem to go on and on like Zombies – eg Mugabe or Saddam himself. But I think we are unlikely to see an intervention before the election.

  • Kenny

    U.S. intervention would be crazy.

    Syria is not worth the cost.

  • Luke Lea

    Here is a good link on Syrian tribes which as in the rest of the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, and Southwest Asia, continues to be a major obstacle to liberal society:

  • Fred

    Ulysses, Anyone who uses the term “chickenhawk” automatically forfeits the right to be taken seriously.

  • Ulysses S. Rant

    Fred, your argument makes no sense.

    I know wounded war veterans who use that term regularly. Why don’t you walk up to one of them and tell them that they shouldn’t be taken seriously? I’d love to see how that plays out.

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