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Diplomatic Fallout: A More Hawkish Europe Gives U.S. Second Thoughts

Monday, May 13, 2013

Does the U.S. genuinely want its European allies to police their geopolitical backyard? When it comes to the Syrian crisis, the answer seems to be no. Last week, the Obama administration signaled that it intends to set the diplomatic pace over Syria as the U.S. and Russia announced joint plans for a peace conference. This was not only an accommodating gesture to the Russians—who, as I argued in this column last week, have made immense political capital out of the conflict—but also a setback for Britain and France, which have agitated for a more hawkish Western line, including arming the Syrian rebels.

British and French diplomats have little choice but to go along with the Russo-American proposal. If the conference is a failure, they may argue that it reinforces the case for a more aggressive approach. But regardless of the outcome, they may also reflect on the paradox that while the Obama administration has frequently called for Europe to take more responsibility for its own security, Washington is often nervous about the results. ...

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