July 14th, 2014
10:41 AM ET

Is U.S. throwing fuel on Middle East fire?

By Fareed Zakaria

The Obama administration's decision to seek $500 million to train and fund moderate elements of the Syrian opposition has been greeted with bipartisan support in Washington. The general consensus is that if the administration had done three years ago what it is doing now, the situation in Syria would not have turned into a bloody sectarian civil war.

But almost all elements of this conventional wisdom are wrong. The administration is caving in to the classic Washington desire to "do something" in the face of a terrible tragedy without any clear sense as to whether it has the ability to improve things or to make matters worse…

…The complexity of Washington's task can be seen in the American attitude towards ISIS. When the group battles the al-Maliki government in Iraq, it is a deadly foe of the United States and must be ruthlessly attacked. But when it crosses the now non-existent border between Iraq and Syria and battles the al-Assad regime, it’s aligned with America's stated goal of regime change in Damascus.

With this whole history of sectarian conflict in mind, it’s difficult to believe that three years ago a modest American intervention of arms and training, which is all that was being advocated, would have changed the trajectory of events in Syria.

Watch the video for the full Take or read the WaPo column

 

Post by:
Topics: Fareed's Take • Syria

soundoff (134 Responses)
  1. joe m

    Consensus means general agreement. When someone says " it's the general consensus, they are being redundant." Before he gives foreign policy advice, Fareed should master his own profession, the use of words.

    July 17, 2014 at 5:34 pm | Reply
    • nightwriter

      Go back to your fifth-grade grammar class ...

      July 20, 2014 at 11:39 am | Reply
  2. joe m

    If Obama had not intervened, Assad would have squashed the resistance that has been threatening the Syrian regime. Now that resisrance has matastized into a threat to all the governments of the Mid East. The Syrians have never done harm to the United States. They have repeatedly tried to strenghten relations with the USA. In fact, they allied themselves with the United States in the Persian Gulf War. Israel didn't.

    July 17, 2014 at 5:45 pm | Reply
    • Jack

      You are either misinformed to a great degree, or dishonest.

      Syria, and Damascus in particular, has functioned as the transport hub for both Shiite and Sunni terrorists for the last 10-15 years at a minimum. They have facilitated the transport of weapons, missiles terrorists back and forth to Lebanon, Iraq and Iran. Many of those terrorist have ended up in Iraq killing American soldiers via IED or bullet.

      In the Gulf War, Israel remained on the sidelines, at the US's request, because of the obvious counter-reaction that would have resulted if Israel attacked Iraq, amongst the other Arab nations.

      Your attempt to mislead other readers is evidence of bias and dishonesty. For anyone else, google it, and you'll find the clear evidence of Assad's compliance with Iran in facilitating terrorist transport of weapons and jihadis, and the cost it has exacted in America lives.

      July 18, 2014 at 7:26 pm | Reply
  3. hafiz

    YEAH FAREED THE RETARD,WHATS UR TAKE ON THIS N WHO IS TO BLAME FOR THIS,I BET ACCORDING TO UR SATNIC VIEWS MR PUTIN N THE RUSSIANS RIGHT?YEAH BLAME IT ON THE DEVIL DATS BETTER.

    July 17, 2014 at 6:54 pm | Reply
  4. jphuie

    It's not just ISIS that America has been ambivalent about. At one time the US supported Saddam… at one time the US supported Assad… just as (at one time) it supported what became the mujahideen in Afghanistan… much of our sad foreign policy history has been about shortsightedly supporting groups and (often oppressive) leaders that then became our enemies.

    July 17, 2014 at 9:14 pm | Reply
  5. cay

    is fareed zakaria a shiite?
    he has been supportive of assad and maliki and iran from the beginning!
    CNN should fire him!

    July 18, 2014 at 8:34 am | Reply
  6. VIVA

    ​ DANGEROUS

    URGENT TO THOSE WHO CARE PLEASE ASK YOUR PEOPLE TO POINT THIS TO THE AUTHORITY. WE HAVE AN INFORMATIONS THAT IRAN AND SYRIA GAVE SOME SHIMICAL WEPAONS TO IRAQI SHIA NORI AL MALEKI AND TO HIS KILLERS ASAYEB AL HAQ, MAHDI ARMI AND QODOS ARMI THOSE SHIA CRIMINALS KEEP THESE WEAPONS AND HELLA CITY AND KARBALA CITY UNDER THE COMMAND OF NORI AL MALEKI. PLEASE LET THE WORLD KNOW ABOUT THOSE CRIMINALS. NORI AL MALEKI, GENERAL TALIB JAGHANI, FALEH ALFAYADH, QEYS AL KHAZALI, ABO MOJAHED, ARAS AL FELI, THOSE ARE SOME NAMES WHO ARE ALLOWED TO GIVE ORDER TO USE THE CHIMICAL WEPAONS.

    I SENT THIS E MAIL TO 1200 FRIENDS WE NEED TO SEND IT TO CNN, CTV ALL NEWS , TV STATIONS AND NEWS PAPERS ASAP.

    وردتني هذه الرسالة انقلها لكم كما هي: للتعميم / رجاء عاجل

    وردت معلومات مؤكدة من جهاز المخابرات العراقي مفادها ما يلي:

    1) تم نقل حاويات كيماوية لغاز السارين وغاز الخردل إلى العراق لاستخدامها بواسطة مدفعية الميدان ومدافع الهاون المتوفرة لدى الجيش العراقي.

    2) تم تخزين هذه الأسلحة الكيماوية في مخازن خاصة بأطراف مدينة الحلة ومدينة كربلاء وتحت حراسة عصائب أهل الحق.

    3) يشرف على أوامر تنفيذ القصف بالأسلحة الكيماوية مباشرة نوري المالكي، واللواء طالب جغاتي، وفالح الفياض، وقيس الخزعلي، وأبو مجاهد وآراس حبيب الفيلي.

    4) سيتم تنفيذ ضربات كيماوية منسوبة زورا للثوار ضد مناطق شيعية تحتوي على مزارات دينية لغرض تأجيج الوسط الشيعي وإعلان الحرب الطائفية... يرجى التعميم لإحباط هذا المخطط الخبيث ضد الشعب العراقي، ولدرء الحرب الطائفية التي يسعى المالكي وإيران إلى إشعالها.

    5) ستقوم حكومة المالكي بقصف مناطق في بغداد والمحافظات الشيعية بالكيماوي لتنسب هذه العملية للثوار، لأنه بالآونة الأخيرة، وقبل أيام، أرسلت حكومة المالكي رسالة إلى الأمم المتحدة حول سيطرة الثوار على مخازن الكيماوي في منشأة المثنى.

    ونحيطكم علما بأن العراق خال من الأسلحة الكيماوية من العام 1998، وإن الأسلحة الكيماوية الموجودة في العراق حالياً نُقلت من النظام السوري لاستخدامها ضد مناطق شيعية في بغداد والمحافظات الشيعية، وخاصة الكاظمية وكربلاء والنجف وسامراء وبلد، حيث مراقد أهل البيت (رضوان الله عليهم) وإنسابها إلى الثوار، وهذه خطة قاسمي سليماني لإثارة حرب طائفية شعواء، ومبرر لدخول الجيش الإيراني للعراق لحماية المراقد... وهذه آخر أوراق المقبور نوري المالكي.

    يرجى التعميم /

    جميع المحافل الدولية

    ,..,,

    July 18, 2014 at 9:16 am | Reply
  7. eddieVIII

    Fareed is a mouthpiece for the American govt just like all the other media personalities.

    July 19, 2014 at 9:49 am | Reply
  8. adrn mller

    Fareed and Brzezinsky are as transparent as a fart:: not 1 mention of Hamas rockets,refusal of cease fires, calculated placement of civilians in harm's way. On the other hand, why do they acknowledge the right of Ukranians, Syrians and everybody else to defend themselves against hostility, but not Israel? At least Hamas is open about it's priorities: they have equal disregard for all life, Arab and Jew alike. Less honorably, Fareed and Brzezinsky think only Jews are disposable, notwithstanding their public personas - as transparent as farts

    July 20, 2014 at 5:26 pm | Reply
  9. Spgfld Tom

    I'm starting to really miss the decisive leadership of Jimmy Carter! To quote Hillary Clinton (the Godess of CNN): "Obama doesn’t know how to be president. He doesn’t know how the world works. He’s incompetent. He’s an amateur!”

    July 20, 2014 at 8:14 pm | Reply
  10. mrs. westmore

    thanks to your arabist views on the gaza/israel conflict you have lost me as a viewer-permanenttly. oher jews agree! shame on you

    July 20, 2014 at 9:12 pm | Reply
  11. epicjourney

    So Fareed, you proposed what – negotiate? Do nothing? Appeasement? None of these will do anything except cause greater war in the future. Even economic sanctions show weakness to the world's bullies – or did the Cuba & Iran experience teach us nothing?

    July 21, 2014 at 3:39 pm | Reply
  12. Fareed is right

    Lets drop Lyndsey Graham into the middle of Aleppo.

    July 21, 2014 at 3:43 pm | Reply
1 2 3

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.