Syria Dispatch

by Samer Abboud
published in MER283

A common criticism of the Obama administration’s foreign policy on Syria is that the decision not to intervene militarily in the civil war starting in 2011 prolonged the conflict and paved the way for the Syrian government’s external allies to alter its course. This formulation contains two related, but false, assumptions. First, it assumes that the administration was either confused or indecisive about how to approach the complexities of the conflict, and second, that US policy was vacuous and thus immaterial. A closer look at the Obama administration’s policy, however, reveals forms of political and military engagement that were anything but inconsequential and demonstrate that the choice was never simply between intervention and non-intervention.

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