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Blurred Red Lines
Paint Dries in Syria

President Obama is slowly edging into a more interventionist stance in Syria. In an NPR interview yesterday, the President discussed a strategy for arming and supporting politically moderate rebels in the hopes that the U.S. will tip the balance of the conflict towards a political resolution.

This comes, of course, very late. Figuring out how to help the rebels, and which rebels to help, would have been an easier task a few years ago, or even after regime forces danced all over Obama’s red line with a gas attack that claimed more than 1,400 lives last August. By now, a lot more opportunistic jihadis with a lot more money and arms have flooded into the country, and many more people have died. Chlorine gas attacks, a phenomenon not seen since the First World War, are reportedly on the rise, and UN weapons inspectors investigating these claims have come under attack.

The President’s qualified optimism notwithstanding, there are no guarantees that U.S. efforts to empower moderate rebels will be successful. And even if the United States does pick the right moderates to arm, there are no assurances that those forces will be effective; political “moderates” aren’t always the best warfighters.

We also hope that this shift is the fruit of a well thought out strategy, rather than a PR move intended to satisfy some of his interventionist critics. Time will tell.

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  • gabrielsyme

    Great. Obama, having lost the opportunity either to intervene decisively against Assad or to leave well enough alone, is now using Syrian lives to make political gestures. At this point, arming the supposed “moderates” within the opposition can only serve to drag out the war, resulting in more deaths. Of course, that’s the optimistic view- if we’re lucky the weapons will make their way to one of the al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria.

    Truly, Obama has a unique ability to arrive at the worst possible outcome.

  • lukelea

    History and recent American experience show that this part of the world is ungovernable by Western liberal standards. So what is the point in our intervening? To get a new strong man more in keeping with our (and Israel’s) interests?

    But is Bashar al-Assad so bad in this regard? Does his allowing Iranian arms to flow through to Hezbollah represent a mortal threat to Israel or just a thorn in her side?

    Saddam supported suicide bombers in Israel, and we took him out. But look at the cost benefit ratio. How many Israelis were actually killed as a result of Saddam? Two or three? Ten? I can’t remember, but the number was small. Was putting a stop to that worth a trillion dollars and thousands of American casualties? Are the Iraqi people better off now than before? Anyway, from everything I read, the wall between Israel and the West Bank has been the real reason such attacks have diminished.

    Maybe I am off base here, but I just can’t see the point. Somebody please explain.

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