Tuesday, August 21, 2012

choosing sides in Syria

Ken Pollack, whose enthusiasm for the war in Iraq troubled me but who at other times seems wise, has a fine piece in the Washington Post about the war in Syria. He says the conflict is already a civil war, and that U.S,. policymakers should understand that fact. He also warns that "an opposition victory could mean trading one regime of persecution and slaughter for another. All of this needs to be factored into any U.S. discussion of whether to help the rebels prevail."

Too much discussion about policy toward Syria, in my view, has been concentrated on the people in that country and not enough on the regional consequences of various outcomes. Opposing Assad is a weak guide to how to handle Iranian-sponsored militias, or the economic and political costs of trying to create a new, stable, and especially pro-western government in Damascus. The international community, not just the United States, has a bad track record on nation-building.

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