Into Syria (No Vision)


To intervene or not to intervene, that was the question. But now what, now that the Obama Administration is about to get a U.S. toe into Syria? I’m betting the U.S. decision had nothing to do with chemical weapons and red lines and more to do with Hezbollah and Iran. It’s no longer just about Syria. Perhaps it never was. If anyone know any better, please weigh in.

The most clarifying thing I’ve seen so far is Joshua Landis at Syria Comment sketching out the possible outcomes. These would be [1] a one-state, single sovereign Syria, [2] a two-state solution splitting the country between the Alawites and everyone else, or [3] a three-state solution splitting the country between Sunnis, Alawites, and Kurds.

As Landis presents them, these are the choices for Obama to make. Note, for Obama to make. Again this means that it’s no longer just about Syria, as if it ever was. A negotiated settlement does not sound like it’s going to happen, not if the Russians and Iranians want Assad to stay in power “until the next elections,” and everyone else (the Americans, Europeans, Turks, and Sunni Arabs) want him out as soon as possible. Nobody wants to wreck the country, except perhaps the parties already involved on the ground.

I bet there’s not a soul out there who has any idea how this ends. My own view from the armchair is that I don’t think there was an option to sit this one out, given the carnage and, perhaps more importantly, given the range of regional interests both supporting and opposing the Assad regime. The U.S. should have stepped in a year ago before it was too late. And now it’s too late. There’s no light at the end of this very nasty tunnel. Indeed, it just might be there’s no end to the tunnel.

I can’t think of a single political theory that makes sense of Syria.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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