Syria-- Go big or do nothing

Kenneth  Pollack:
The complexities of the Syria conflict touch on American interests in myriad ways—ways that don’t necessarily line up neatly with one course of action or another. There are multiple goals, and multiple strategies that could be employed to achieve those goals, and as a result, there are good arguments to be made both for intervention and against. The only thing that makes no sense, unfortunately, is the path that President Obama appears determined to pursue.

Because Washington is not willing to match its rhetoric about wanting to see Assad gone with actions, it instead looks for marginal—even rhetorical—ways to appear as if it is doing something. But that is the worst thing the United States could do. It leads to half measures piled on top of half measures, committing us deeper and deeper without coming any closer to reaching any meaningful goal. This is exactly how the United States ended up backing into Vietnam.The administration constantly stresses the arguments against intervention. Yet at the same time, Obama has also demanded that Assad must go, laid down a red line against the use of chemical weapons, and greenlighted the provision of small arms and small unit training to the opposition. Such actions are not consistent with one another or with any strategically sensible approach. Instead, they appear to be the product of a White House that is trying to have it both ways.

Put simply, the administration must choose one of two overall strategies: do nothing or pursue an intervention far more decisive than limited strikes.
There is much more.

It appears that Obama is taking the course that does not even add up to half measures.  Punitive strikes are rarely effective and they usually result in counter attacks because they do not affect the ability of the regime to respond.  There is nothing really strategic about the proposals floated so far by the administration beyond "making them just robust enough not to be mocked."


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