The news that President Obama is considering missile strikes against Syria confirms the existence of what James Jay Carafano has called the “CNN Effect”—nations feeling “compelled to ‘do something’ about the problem depicted on their TV screens.”
The administration so far has followed the rest of the world, fixating on the battles raging from Damascus to Aleppo. Yet the White House has no good options for influencing these events.
Consequently, it has adopted a faux foreign policy: pretending to do something, while keeping actual involvement to a minimum. It asks Moscow to help marshal a peace conference, knowing that the Kremlin’s sole interest is keeping strongman Assad in power. It makes a half-hearted attempt to find and supply “good” rebels who won’t turn Syria into an al Qaeda sanctuary.
What the U.S. should have done from the outset is concentrate its efforts on Turkey, Israel, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan—countries that could make a serious difference in safeguarding American interests in the region.
Working bilaterally with these nations, we could:
* Coordinate efforts to cripple the pipelines moving foreign fighters, funds, and weapons to al Qaeda in Syria (AQ in Syria’s success is giving the global Islamist insurgency a second life in the Middle East.),
* Help build a “firebreak” to keep the Sunni-Shia proxy war in Syria from spreading into a broader regional conflict, and
* Lessen the opportunity for other unstable hot spots—like Egypt—to spill over into other countries.
Giving help to Jordan, says Carafano, would be a good first step, since that country has been a valuable ally in battling terrorism. He notes that Jordan “is also a model of political and economic reforms for the region,” scoring “well above the regional average in Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal annual Index of Economic Freedom.” [Washington Examiner, August 16]