Former US Ambassador To Syria Says Obama Has Tough Choice

Map released by the White House
Now that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has laid out the Obama administration's rationale for possibly military strikes in Syria, one man who has vast experience in the Middle East says it's still a very difficult decision.

Edward Djerejian has spent time as the U.S. ambassador to both Syria and Israel and is the founding director of The Baker Institute at Rice University. He sums up the situation like this: 

"The Syrian crisis is truly the problem from hell in the Middle East. It's the most serious devolution of events in the wake of the so-called "Arab Spring." 


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (Aug. 30) official video

Djerejian says the UK's decision to stay out of the crisis really shouldn't affect the U.S. and France's decision on the use of military force against Syria. 

"These counties have to not only take into consideration their own public opinion, but they have to take into consideration how important it is to have a comprehensive coaltion, or do they go it sort of alone with maybe a number of countries but maybe not as widespread as they had hoped. The British decision is an important one, but I think countries like the United States and France will make their own decisions." 

He says it's important that any decision is thoroughly thought-out, a process that could still take some time. 

"It's very important to pause, get the facts and determine how military action will affect your national security interests and the political ends you want to achieve, in this case in Syria and in the region. Does it make sense? If military action will support our strategic and political goals, then that facilitates the decision to take military action."  

Djerejian says there's no question the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq is behind the reluctance of some countries to join the U.S. in a military strike.

He says if the U.S. does strike Syria, the military action will most likely be only from the air, with no U.S. boots on the ground.

He also says any military action would likely not be meant to overthrow the Assad regime, but only to level the playing field for the opposition movement and send a message about the use of chemical weapons in the future. 

 

U.S. Government Assessment of the Syrian Government’s Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013 by Gregg Carlstrom