Massacre in Syria
May 30th, 2012
12:14 PM ET

U.S. intervention in Syria: Damned if they do, damned if they don't?

They are questions asked many times since the Syria violence began: When will it stop? What can the U.S. and international community do? What options are left?

Stephen Hadley, former White House national security adviser for George W. Bush and now a senior adviser for the U.S. Institute of Peace, weighs in.

CNN: If you were sitting in the White House today and you were seeing the pictures of violence, you would be outraged. Is the legal question enough to stop intervention (the fact that there's no resolution from the U.N. Security Council nor any invitation from the Arab League)? At what point does the president of the United States, a prime minister of the U.K. or a president of France have to say, "I don't care, I have to stop this?"

HADLEY: He has to be willing to do that. We went into Bosnia, as you know, without a U.N. Security Council resolution.

It would be helpful to have the Arab League, to have neighborhood countries on board with us, because it will make effective whatever we decide to do. But the president of the United States has to make a decision of what is in U.S. interest. You know if you go to the U.N., you are going to get a Russia/Chinese veto. That isn't an option.

I think the question is, what is in the interests of the United States? What do we need to do in that region? And I think the answer is becoming clear.

Related: What can the world do?

CNN: Is this massacre enough to be a turning point? There are some who say, well, the Russians signed on to the Kofi Annan mission. Now that it is clearly failing, maybe they will feel some moral imperative to take it to a next step. Do you have any reason to believe the Russians will do anything significant?

HADLEY: I don't think so. And I think it's not just the massacre, as terrible as the loss of life has been. It's also what's happening in that country as long as President Bashar al-Assad stays there.

Many people say, if we intervene, it is going to cause sectarian violence to spread in the region. It's getting to the point if we don't intervene in some way, there is going to be sectarian violence. It is descending into sectarian violence.

And that sectarian violence runs the risk of pitting Sunni against Shia in Lebanon, in Jordan, in Iraq, maybe even in Turkey itself. So it's getting to the point that if we don't do something more decisive, it will plunge the region into instability and sectarian violence. And that would be a tragedy.

CNN: What would it take? Intelligence sources say there are 24, 26 potential sites inside Syria where they have weapons of mass destruction. People at the Pentagon, if you talked to allied government, they would say at a minimum 75,000 boots on the ground were needed to secure those sites, to have reasonable safety. Is that right?

HADLEY: Boots on the ground is not the only option. ... What we need to do is we need to pull the pillars that remain supporting the al-Assad regime — the military, the minority groups like the Alawites and the Christians, and business community — and we need to pull them away from the regime.

What's going to do that? We need a Syrian National Council and an opposition movement that is assumed by the international community, that has a cross-sectarian message. I believe we need to begin arming those groups within Syria that will support that cross-sectarian message.

And, finally, I think the United States is at the point where we need to prepare for some kind of intervention. That doesn't necessarily mean boots on the ground. People have talked about no-fly zones, no-drive zones, areas where the opposition could congregate and train. I think we have to prepare that.

I'm reluctant to say it: I think we have to prepare for it. One, we might need it and, two, the act of preparation, figuring out what operationally we can do, getting support in the region, may actually help tip the military, the business community and the minorities to decide, "We're going to go down with al-Assad [so] we better be part of a new Syria."

– This interview originally appeared on "JKUSA"

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Topics: Syria

soundoff (231 Responses)
  1. Alohali

    The Syrian regime derives its strength from China, Russia and Iran. Therefore peoples of the world must boycott these countries economically at least till they stop their support for the killing of innocent people.

    May 31, 2012 at 3:27 am | Reply
  2. Tony

    Some Americans here support the slaughter of children with knives.
    I'm not sure that they are Americans, the high probability that they Alawites from Syria!

    May 31, 2012 at 3:52 am | Reply
    • Hoo Myself

      Yes, i was just talking to my neighbor,
      and he mentioned to me that it was nice being an American,
      because we support killing Syrian children.

      May 31, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Reply
  3. Muin

    Romney's idea seem reasonable since U.s ally saudi is alreay giving them stuff. Romney needs to pick V.P now cuz he's as old as Biden. He needs someone energetic to campaign with him. He puts young people like me to sleep.

    May 31, 2012 at 8:42 am | Reply
    • Mrs Murphys Pies

      Well dear, six year olds do need there sleep.

      May 31, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Reply
  4. Chukwuemeka

    The countries within the region should be involved because some of them are in support of Assad. The US is still suffering from the humuliating manner France & uk drove them out of Libya, therefore let them move into Syria and stop waiting for the Americans.

    May 31, 2012 at 10:38 am | Reply
    • Hoo Myself

      *** The US is still suffering from the humuliating manner France & uk drove them out of Libya,.....

      So thats what the war was all about.
      France & England went to Lybia to drive out the Americans.


      May 31, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Reply
  5. Ben

    Time to attack is sooner rather than later. The president likely has to weigh in on the fact that Russia and China may not only oppose it, but attempt to stretch U.S. resources and power by actually taking the other side completely. The longer we wait and the faster these economy's grow (Russia/China), allows them more time to prepare for what they want, which is to show up the U.S.. Gotta beat out the dictator now, and our government has to do what it used to do best, which is to be a moral leader, win hearts and minds by supporting opposition and then allow the world to make their own choice. We got nothing out of Iraq, revenge in Afghanistan, we need to do the right thing in Syria.

    June 1, 2012 at 1:51 am | Reply
  6. C.J

    how about u guys kill every muslim u see and get it over with just like the nazi did with jews as far as what iv read u know nothing about islam your so ignorant criminals doesnt have religion

    June 7, 2012 at 9:32 am | Reply
  7. frank

    we should not get involved in this we should stop messing with other nations let them work it out them selves the us getting involved would only put more people like are own soldier in harms way just like vietnam leave people alone we have info problems are self.

    June 8, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Reply
  8. Ray

    I can't believe some of you would not want to intervene, lives are going to be taken away and you are going to sit and watch like you do not care? That is selfish indeed, regardless if it's political or not, the soldiers of the army are to protect the interests of the people, but that does not mean they do not want to intervene. People are so scared of soldiers dying but that is part of the job. You protest the soldiers to not fight but is that the interests of the soldiers or the people? Go ask some soldiers if they want to intervene and I am sure most of them want to help but they are held back by the weak and fearful public. What is the point of having a great military in the US if you are not going to use it? Might as well not have one and watch the world die as countless lives are being taken away each minute, hour and day. Peace does not come without sacrifice.

    July 13, 2012 at 12:04 am | Reply
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