May 9th, 2013
08:09 AM ET

U.S. credibility is not on the line in Syria

By Fareed Zakaria

Obama may have spoken too loosely about a “red line” in Syria. But the most damaging thing he could do now would be to take action simply to follow through. One does not correct for careless language through careless military action.

Syria is a humanitarian nightmare, which the United States should do more to address. Washington should help create and sustain more havens — in Jordan and elsewhere — for refugees and should coordinate with other countries to get aid in faster and more effectively to those in need. It is trying to bring the various rebel groups into a more coherent opposition movement, though that is a daunting challenge.

But we must understand that the Syrian conflict is fundamentally a civil war between a minority elite and the long-oppressed majority — similar to those in Lebanon and Iraq. People fight to the end because they know that losers in such wars get killed or “ethnically cleansed.” The only path to peace in such circumstances is through a political accord among the parties.

Read the full Washington Post column here

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Topics: Syria

soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. matslats

    You don't say WHY Obama spoke too loosely about the red line. It is because the Rebels used the chemical weapons.
    But the US is supporting the rebels, right?
    Because they will implement a democracy, right?
    Like Libya is now a democracy? And Kosovo? And Afghanistan?

    May 9, 2013 at 8:21 am |
    • wjmccartan

      In fact matslats, that riff raft fighting the Assad regime seeks to set up another U.S. backed pseudo-democracy. Let's all hope that doesn't take place.

      May 9, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  2. matslats

    The people fighting in the Syrian war are paid mercenaries and islamic militants from abroad. They are not in fear of their lives. There is no 'long-oppressed majority', and if there was, US corporations would likely be behind it. For CNN to call for political settlement after 2 years of formenting a rebellian is an admission of defeat.

    May 9, 2013 at 8:26 am |
  3. Claudia

    USA should not have that many open issues around the globe. USA is not strong enough for that. However, USA is not alone, and together with EU and NATO alliance much can be accomplished.

    May 9, 2013 at 9:11 am |
  4. wjmccartan

    The president has no obligation to press the rebels or the Asaad regime, obviously the rebels would love to have America involved with another war, until they can find moderates on both sides of this civil war, the only thing the USA should continue to do is provide aid, either with food medical supplies, or cash to the countries who have been gracious enough to take people into their country, to provide a safe place to live while this conflict continues. This isn't looking for democracy where it can't be found, and Asaad has to leave office as well as those who ordered that their own people be massacred. These incidents took place even before it was a civil war, these deaths are the reasons it became what it is today. What ever shape the government takes, those that had atrocities taken against their own people have to be flushed out. I agree that within the rebel movement there are groups who have used this just to continue to cause havoc in the hope that when the dust settles they can have a even more extremist from of government. It should be said that those who commit terrorists acts should face the same court as Asaad. If nothing else comes from this war, there should at least be a sense of security for the people of Syria that they won't just be taken off the streets never to be heard from again, or their bodies just dropped in the street like so much other garbage.


    May 9, 2013 at 9:49 am |
  5. saudi arabia beheaded criminal so what!!! good for them I wish usa do that too

    the rebels didnt use the chimical weapons it is part of the cover up by syria shiia thugs , it has been used by the hizboallah from lebanon and by iraqi shiia who came to syria and used it to stain the image of the freedom fighters aganist the syrian thugs who are puppets for evil iranians...

    May 9, 2013 at 10:14 am |
  6. j. von hettlingen

    Indeed, Fareed, I'm glad that you also agree to a Yugoslavian-style breakup of Syria as a good option to end the conflict. It's illusionary to believe that the opposition would accept the terms outlined in the Geneva communique of last year: an end to violence and a peaceful transition of power. Iraq is a good example to show that power-sharing only leads to power struggle. The Alawite minorities could have their enclave in Latakia and the surrounding region. The Druce and the Christians could be given a safe haven adjacent to the Golan Heights. The UN Blue Helmets could be deployed to police and maintain peace in the region until stability returns.

    May 9, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
    • wjmccartan

      In fact j. von hettlingen, Iraq needs to go the way of Yugoslavia by dividing that country into three different states, first by giving the north to the Kurds, the south to the Shiites and the west to the Sunnis. Otherwise, the violence there will only continue!

      May 9, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
  7. wjmccartan

    Who the H is Obama think he is to be drawing "red lines" anywhere? The only humane thing we can do about Syria is to take a hands off approach to the civil war there and allow for the collapse of one side or the other. I'm sick and tired of all these weak minded people blogging in here screaming for U.S. military intervention!

    May 9, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
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