Obama’s Catastrophic Syria Folly
Michael Brendan Dougherty – The Week
President Obama has broken lots of promises on foreign policy. Guantanamo Bay is still open. We’re fighting in Iraq again, at least from the air. And now, contrary to promises made in years past, the president is sending (a very limited number of) ground troops to support and advise rebel groups in Syria …
By sending special forces in this open way, Obama is involving America ever more deeply in the outcome of a civil war, where America’s supposed allies — rebels who we are assured are “moderate” — have almost no chance of winning …
If U.S. forces are not there to help win the war, then they are there only to prolong it …
A Solution for Syria and the Kurds that the U.S. and Turkey Can Agree On.
Michael O’Hanlon & Omer Taspinar – The National Interest
The first element of the new strategy begins with a more realistic framing of the military goals of the international coalition opposing both Assad and ISIL. Washington must take the lead on this. The starting point is to begin with a vision for the future of Syria based on confederation.
Declaring such a goal could help reconcile, or at least “deconflict,” American and Turkish views on the conflict. By now, it must be clear that aspiring to a strong successor government to the Assad regime is to hope for a miracle. Even if such a government could be constructed on paper, what army is going to give it authority? The current Syrian army is too tainted by Assad’s barbarism; the various militias in the country are too fractured and weak; ISIL itself must be defeated, so its fighters cannot be part of any solution. One reason Turkey does not trust the United States now in the conflict is that Washington’s stated goals are so out of kilter with the means it is willing to devote to the effort. A confederal model for Syria, though still ambitious, could help reduce the chasm between ends and means, making the strategy more credible.
Unfixable: How Obama Lost Syria
Max Fisher – Vox
July 18, 2012, almost a year to the day into Syria’s civil war, was also the day when it looked closest to ending. The rebels, at that point still mostly local volunteers and defected Syrian soldiers, had pushed into the capital city of Damascus …
Thousands of miles away, in Washington, DC, another battle was raging: a months-long struggle within the Obama administration over what action the United States should take, if any, to steer the course of a war that was quickly becoming a humanitarian catastrophe.
Some in the administration, wary of another intervention after the US-led air campaign in Libya, opposed getting involved. Others feared that the war would only get worse, that if the US did not act now then it would be forced to act later when the war would be even more chaotic and conditions even less favorable.
In both Damascus and Washington, both battles quickly turned to stalemates.