The Realist Prism: U.S. Can’t Control Syrian Outcomes Without Committing Resources

The Realist Prism: U.S. Can’t Control Syrian Outcomes Without Committing Resources

In his recommendations for the United States to become more actively involved in determining the outcome of the Syrian civil war, Sen. Bob Corker, the ranking Republican member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has fallen victim to one of the more seductive temptations that regularly befall American policymakers: that with enough aggressive leadership and a healthy application of technological acumen, Washington can get other actors to align themselves with and then execute U.S. policy objectives.

Summed up, Corker’s policy strategy is to locate the elusive Syrian moderates who, once armed, trained and equipped by the United States, will in short order overthrow the regime of President Bashar al-Assad; prevent revenge attacks from being launched by the majority Sunnis against the Alawites and Christians; be prepared to fight extremist Islamist factions among the opposition; thwart Iran's pretensions to regional hegemony; support a pluralist democracy; and secure the regime's chemical weapons. We know the moderates will have to do all of these tasks because Corker has also made it clear that he is "reluctant to commit the United States as an active participant in a complex and distant war and do not support the deployment of American forces."

On paper, it sounds so easy. Reality is rarely that simple.

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