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The Realist Prism: Grateful or Not, Syrian Rebels Likely to Advance U.S. Interests

Friday, Aug. 10, 2012

Another version of the “Gratitude Doctrine” is emerging in U.S. foreign policy circles, this time with regard to Syria. As Liz Sly of the Washington Post recently reported, the United States is increasingly viewed by Syria’s rebels “with suspicion and resentment for its failure to offer little more than verbal encouragement to the revolutionaries.” This has led some U.S. observers to argue that if Washington does not do more to help the Syrian opposition in its fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, it runs the risk that any new government that comes to power in Damascus after Assad’s fall will shun the U.S., with grave implications for U.S. interests in the Middle East.

But if we examine the situation with the cold, steely-eyed gaze of a banker, unmoved by sentiment or emotion, the “gratitude” argument for more actively supporting the anti-Assad opposition doesn’t carry much weight. Because should they emerge victorious from the current civil war, the Syrian rebels are likely to take actions that will advance America’s interests in the region, regardless of whether or not they feel particularly beholden to Washington. ...

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