Posted by Curt on 4 June, 2013 at 3:18 pm. 5 comments already!



The good news for hawks: If there’s any one member of the Bush administration you want making your case for you on Syria, it’s probably Condi. The bad news for hawks: You really don’t want any members of the Bush administration making your case for you on Syria. Rice, at least, gets a bit closer to filling in step two in the “underpants gnomes” plan for pacifying Syria:

Step one: U.S. intervention
Step two: ?????
Step three: Fighting declines and a peace settlement is reached

Intervene now to stop Assad’s momentum and then convince him to come to the bargaining table, when he’ll be willing to agree to a more equitable settlement for the rebels. Step two, essentially, is to put a hurt on him to the greatest extent possible, but it also presumably imagines leaving him in place as ruler of some post-treaty Shiite carve-out. How comfortable would the west be with that idea given the claims, which now include one by UN investigators, that he’s used chemical weapons on the enemy?

Her argument, like most calls for intervening in Syria, relies on three assumptions, none of which I’m sold on. First, that victory for Iran would be worse than victory for Sunni fanatics. Second, that a peace agreement between Assad and the rebels carving up Syria into Sunni and Alawite territories would hold. And third, that there remains a “small nucleus” of America-friendly rebels who, if empowered by the U.S. and placed in charge of the country afterward, might be able to maintain a cold peace between Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, and secularists. (Rice is sufficiently uncertain whether that faction of rebels exists that she hedges with the phrase “to the degree that they’re left on the ground in Syria” to describe them.) The third assumption seems ludicrous to me. Jihadists, after all, are salivating over having Syria as a new base of operations in the heart of the region. Libya is swell and all, but it’s on another continent. Syria’s where the action is, and even if a U.S. puppet/client were installed, they’ll fight for it afterward. At which point, what? Deeper western intervention?

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