Anyone Else Worried About Syria?

Syrian rebels waving an Al Qaeda flag over a government helicopter at a captured airbase.
Syrian rebels waving an Al Qaeda flag over a government helicopter at a captured airbase.

The usual caveat about foreign policy applies: this is not my field. But I find two stories disconcerting:

  1. Iran to send 4,000 troops to aid President Assad forces in Syria
  2. US troops on Syria border as Obama arms rebels

So, President Obama issued a red-line warning some time ago against Syrian forces using chemical weapons. Which they’ve done. Now that the we either hurt our credibility by revealing that we were bluffing, or we react. The problem is that reacting seems tricky given that not only Iran but also Russia support the Assad regime. To say nothing of the fact that the opponents of the Assad regime (e.g. “freedom fighters”) seem to have an unfortunate tendency to swear loyalty to Al Qaeda (which, you know, has boots on the ground assisting them).

I don’t mean to sound callous to the unspeakable horror and loss of innocent life this war has caused, but what are our good options here? This feels like Vietnam 2.0, but worse. And yes: much worse than Iraq or Afghanistan. Afghanistan was at least plausibly a legitimate target and had no major allies or entanglements. Iraq was probably not a legitimate military target (no WMD), but was another isolated regime with no real allies. But the Syrian civil war is an ethnic, religious, and geopolitical quagmire.

I’m not saying an intervention would be impossible, but it looks like the US is getting dragged in against our will without a real plan, and I’m starting to wonder if there’s even going to be an end to the deployment of our young men and women to fight unwinnable wars in the Middle East.

4 thoughts on “Anyone Else Worried About Syria?”

  1. I’ve been concerned about Syria since the very beginning. There were two courses of action available that would have saved much bloodshed if pursued in a timely manner. Either supporting Assad’s regime, or supporting the rebels. Now things have gotten out of hand. The US and UN have no credibility, Al-Qaida has a strong foothold, and when Assad falls, not only will the Allawis be massacred, but I suspect that the Druse will be, too.Tens of thousands have died and what we are seeing now in the way of intervention is too little, too late.

  2. The only legitimate interest The US has here is to contain the conflict to Syria and ensure that any WMDs there stay out of rebel hands. Surely we can agree with Russia on that much and cooperate in as much. There are no good guys anywhere in this conflict.

  3. Allen-

    I think you’re exactly right. The Obama administration was gun-shy on Syria because of what happened in Benghazi. The Ambassador was actually working to recover American arms that had been given to the rebels and were at risk of ending up with Al Qaeda. (This is why he was at a CIA compound.) Obama didn’t want to repeat that, so he held back. But now that we’re nearing 100,000 civilian deaths we’re going to get sucked in when Al Qaeda is already there, has all the credibility, and is actively dismantling the more moderate arms of the resistance.

  4. Caleb-

    I think there were some good guys in the beginning, and are still some today. But I don’t know if there’s any way we can effectively help them, or if there ever was.

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