August 16th, 2014
07:08 PM ET

Should U.S. have intervened in Syria?

Fareed speaks with Shadi Hamid, a fellow at the Brookings Institution's Center for Middle East Policy and the author of Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East, about the rise of ISIS. Watch the full interview on "Fareed Zakaria GPS," this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

You see Syria as much more central here, correct?

Yes. I mean the rise of ISIS is tied more to the Syrian civil war. And Bashar al-Assad is really the root cause of the problem, in many ways. You had peaceful protesters in 2011. They were being shot down. And then more and more Syrians took up arms.

We had an opportunity early on, in early 2012, to intervene militarily in Syria. And many of us were calling for that, not just arming the so-called moderate rebels, but targeted air strikes, the creation of safe zones. That what was necessary then. And many observers warned the Obama administration, if you don't do more now, this is going to come to haunt you in the future, that the radicals are going to rise, they're going to gain ground. And that's precisely what's happened now.

And I think in some ways, it's too late. Even if we had the ideal president doing the ideal list of things, so much damage has been done over the last three years. And this is why sometimes, if you keep on waiting, if you keep on dithering, the costs are tremendous.

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Topics: GPS Show

soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. Joseph McCarthy

    Should the U.S. have intervened in Syria? Only a stupid, crazy fool would say yes to this question! These right-wing war hawks need to be ignored as they're ruining this country!

    August 16, 2014 at 7:42 pm |
    • Christian Miller

      "Should U.S. have intervened in Syria?" NO, we are, and were, intervening and we should not have. This is another clear case where our intervention, arms, money, CIA, military advisors, NED made a bad situation worse.

      August 17, 2014 at 11:45 pm |
      • j. von hettlingen

        Hawks blame Obama for not arming the – moderate – rebels, who want to topple the Assad. It's true that we watch this beast slaughter his citizens, without doing anything. Had we ousted him, the situation in Syria would have remained chaotic and a civil war would have started anyway between the factious opposition groups. The al-Qaeda in Iraq, forerunner of ISIS would have settled down in Syria and wreaked havoc. So stop the blame game!

        August 18, 2014 at 7:23 am |
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        August 19, 2014 at 4:27 am |
  2. chri§§y

    And the US should NOT have armed the rebels in Syria either!!!

    August 16, 2014 at 8:02 pm |
    • Iceblue

      Obama openly announces US support and training of rebels in Syria and yet has the temerity to accuse Putin of supporting rebels in Ukraine. Double standard.

      August 16, 2014 at 11:35 pm |
      • George patton

        Well said, Iceblue. How true that is!!!

        August 17, 2014 at 6:46 am |
  3. Joseph McCarthy

    Please ignore my troll @ 7:42 and chrissy's troll as well. Yes. The U.S. should have gotten more involved against Syria and armed the rebels even more. What's a war without guns?

    August 16, 2014 at 11:12 pm |
    • Joseph McCarthy

      But I did post at 7:42. The above is only my impostor who's trying to be funny.

      August 17, 2014 at 3:58 pm |
  4. George Patton

    Good grief. There is that same troll at 7:42 as usual. He is ruining it for the rest of us.
    That Tea Party troll has got to go.
    It's as simple as that!

    August 16, 2014 at 11:15 pm |
    • George patton

      Welcome back, Phunnie boy. Having fun? Evidently yes. Where have you been lately?

      August 17, 2014 at 6:45 am |
  5. chri§§y

    Speak only for yourself @ Joseph. But you dont do a very good job speaking for me because i DID make that post earlier! And WHY would you say the US shouldve funded the rebels even more? Particularly as the rebels are comprised in large part of members of Al Queada?

    August 16, 2014 at 11:26 pm |
  6. chri§§y

    And @ GP none of this has a damn thing to do with the TP so give it up already!

    August 16, 2014 at 11:28 pm |
  7. americanssuckssnazisthey

    rofl`? who supports all these terrorists? Its saudi arabia the biggest US ally in the first place`? pure propaganda

    August 17, 2014 at 4:35 am |
    • George patton

      Good posting, americanssuckssnazisthey. Thank you.

      August 17, 2014 at 6:48 am |
  8. Mounif

    I watched your program today. The contention that there are no moderates in Syria is racist and degrading. In reality the people of Syria have shown tremendous resiliency and have practiced harmonious living with diverse populations for eons.
    The extremism of the ME is born and bred in the dungeons and torture chambers and arbitrary rule of autocrats that we support and condone. Our policy of securing Israel at all costs while securing the flow of oil through autocrats came crashing down on 9/11. Your panel has shown another set of constant American follies in the ME with Richard Haas thinking that with bombs we can defeat an ideology just as GWB thought that with Shock and Awe we can bring democracy.
    It is the likes of such foolish ideas such as "no moderates" and " the free world" and the "international community" that does not hold sway any longer around the world that we continue to believe in imposing our values by force.
    No amount of force is going to defeat this ideology. Only Sunnis can do it and if we intervene we will be parties to endless religious and ethnic civil wars.

    Folly after folly after folly.

    August 17, 2014 at 10:32 am |
  9. nati

    It is easy to if ... Then ... But when it come in the middle east then forget about predictions and expect the worst there is no party who like USA just use us when needed

    August 17, 2014 at 10:38 am |
  10. Valerie Elverton Dixon

    People are wrong to say that President Obama does not have a long-term strategy in Iraq. The strategy is to encourage a unified government that can stand up a military that can defeat the Islamic State and keep the country secure. He is doing this by paying attention to the formation of a new government and by giving military support to the Kurds. It is foolishness to think that the US ought to get more involved in the Syrian conflict. Even if Assad falls tomorrow, the opposition is not unified or organized enough to stand up a government or a fighting force that can defeat IS. And what will happen when we leave, which we will have to so at some point because continued US military involvement is not sustainable? It would be good to have some just peace analysts on your panels because President Obama is a just peace president. See Just Peace Theory Book One Also see:

    August 17, 2014 at 12:35 pm |
  11. emk369

    Fareed, I gotta say that one thing was missing from this discussions – Cotntext!
    Shadi Hamid, one of your guest, made a comment and somehow everyone jumped on the wagon. Comment that stated that the US should have gotten involved in Syria sooner.
    Context; 1. The political atmosphere in the US is such that most people do not want to get involved in anymore wars so there is no mandate for this president to do so. For heavens sake congress was called to vote on a plan to dive into Syria and we only got crickets! despite war mongers like McCain and Graham mouthing off the loudest that we should get involved militarily – politcal pandering for their own political survival!
    2. Please do not forget the shark known as Putin that was a hinderance to respond in Syria, even the UN was having trouble with him. What is his hand in Syria's instability?
    3. Big one...... the shadows of the Iraq war have rendered us impotent in many ways! our Allies are thinking twice, thrice to back us in any interventions anywhere, especially in the Arab World.
    4. We criticize America doing nothing; but your panelist Sadi Hamid has not mentioned any alliance involvement from the Arab world to step in and do something as well – where is the responsibility card here?

    Basically, the panelists all discussed as though we were talking about the 51st American state! No Context.

    I think the president is doing the right thing. The people in the Arab world, especially Iraq now, have to give themselves more options that extremism and iron fist rules. They need to grow up fast otherwise ALL the military intervention in the world is just going to loose prescious American lives – for NOTHING! yes, American sons and daughters willl die – Shadi needs to remember that!

    August 17, 2014 at 1:47 pm |
  12. truthseeker

    Let me 1st say that I grew up in a society made up of Christians, Muslims and a small number of Jews & other religions, all of whom lived together in peace,
    Its interesting that GPS has lost the meaning of the word "GLOBAL". According to the world religious diversity rating, the US has 2% Jews and 1% Muslims. Greater than 90% of muslins are in North + East Africa and the Middle East and a smaller percentage in the rest of Africa and in Asian / South Asian & Pacific countries. So Fareed your program although its called GPS and focuses primarily and incessantly on Muslim related subjects could more accurately be named IPS (Islamic Public Square). It would be more honest and accurate.

    What do you think ?

    August 17, 2014 at 2:33 pm |
    • Philip Arlington

      The four countries with the largest Muslim populations are Indonesia, Pakistan, India (but it majority Hindu), and Bangladesh, none of which are in the Middle East or North Africa.

      August 17, 2014 at 10:41 pm |
  13. Chris

    Moderate rebels are imaginary thing... Western media keeps talking about these moderate rebels like they are the next generation saints who will bring stability to ME. They don't exist in reality neither on ground. This is made up story so US can get involved in yet another war... ISIS, Al-Nuzra. Al-Quida is the same thing.. You experts can keep selling your expertise and ideas, but other then a high school kids and uneducated journalists, nobody buys your story. Let's get real: the source of the problem is Islamic fanatics fueled by Saudi Arabia money and supported by western intelligence agencies for geopolitical dominance as a result of constant chaos and involvement in unreasonable wars...
    P.S. I lived in The Balkans during 90s and I'm well aware of western media propaganda

    August 17, 2014 at 2:58 pm |
    • Marine5484

      Well put, Chris. Thanks for your intelligent input here. There are far too many ignorant people who believe everything that comes out of Washington and the right-wing news media!

      August 17, 2014 at 3:55 pm |
    • Ferhat Balkan

      I also grew up in the Balkans during the 90s. And there was a thing called Soviet propaganda against the West. About how poor the West was and how vile and inhumane those capitalists were... Then I went to the US after the collapse of communism and realized what a lie I use to live in. The Iron Curtain that was pulled over our eyes was real and made us slaves to the Soviet propaganda machine. The fact is all media, whether it's Western, Eastern, Southern or Northern, caters to their own political ambition. But the Soviet propaganda machine made the Western media look like a joke. So forgive me if I don't believe RT News either.

      August 17, 2014 at 5:33 pm |
      • Ferhat Balkan

        Sorry, meant to say 80s, not the 90s.

        August 17, 2014 at 5:54 pm |
  14. truthseeker

    Just a reminder that the media is often aligned with a specific party line. It is almost an unelected, uncommitted autonomous political party which morphs with a given party line of thought.

    The frightening thing is that it has a profound influence on a mostly innocent viewing and listening audience that does not question what is presented in the media.

    August 17, 2014 at 4:07 pm |
  15. Ferhat Balkan

    It's called Islamophobia. A malady that affects the weak minded. The fact is most muslims are moderate. There are 1.9 billion muslims around the world. Of those less than 1% are extremists. Yet, the media (such as FOX News) makes it look like Islam is out to get them.

    August 17, 2014 at 5:38 pm |
    • George patton

      That' not exactly true, Ferhat. At least 25% of them are, more or less.

      August 18, 2014 at 3:18 pm |
      • Ferhat Balkan

        George, please try to educate yourself: "The vast majority of Muslims are moderate, pious people who suffer more from terrorism and violence than non-Muslims. Ninety-three percent of Muslims do not support extremist views of terrorism."

        August 18, 2014 at 3:27 pm |
  16. ugetnuked

    Had the US armed the FSA and imposed a no fly zone in 2011 Syria would be on the road to becoming a secular, liberal republic, ISIS would be deprived of all of its key staging areas outside Iraq, and many thousands of men women and children would still be alive.

    August 17, 2014 at 5:55 pm |
    • banasy©

      Sad but true.

      August 18, 2014 at 4:22 am |
      • raven

        Hey sista!

        August 18, 2014 at 11:46 pm |
    • Sam

      Similar to what happened in Libya right?. Intervened there and now look and the peace loving rebels and each other's throat and one of the most developed Arab or African country becoming a failed state and decades of infustructure turned to rubble

      August 18, 2014 at 5:59 am |
  17. Mark

    The MSM line that the protests against Assad were peaceful until they provoked a violent response from the regime is not true.
    "Contrary to the western promotion of the notion that there was a secular rebellion in Syria, which gradually attracted more Islamist-jihadis or, alternatively, was ‘hijacked’ by Islamist-jihadis, the armed groups in Syria’s 2011-2013 conflict have always been overwhelmingly Islamist and mostly allied to the Muslim Brotherhood."

    Google: Wahhabis, the Brotherhood and the Empire: Syria and the Limits of Political Islam

    August 17, 2014 at 6:20 pm |
  18. Thomas1

    I'm still amazed at opinion from some foreign policy wonks that the US is absolutely responsible for Middle East security–to say nothing of global policing.

    We're broke, and one country with little or no support cannot mandate the outcome of sectarian rivalries.

    This country has too many think tanks.

    August 17, 2014 at 6:22 pm |
  19. steve fazekas

    BLAH BLAH BLAH Just another selfish viewpoint that ignores our abject failures in bringing sanity to an insane region!

    August 17, 2014 at 6:37 pm |
  20. Hiding in Plain Sight

    "Should the U.S. have intervened in Syria?"


    August 17, 2014 at 9:13 pm |
  21. banasy©

    I have said it before and I will say it again, *no American boots in foreign land*

    August 18, 2014 at 4:18 am |
  22. chri§§y

    WHY @ Joey, does USA, need to realise this blog should be called IPS instead of GPS, more than anybody else???

    August 18, 2014 at 10:02 am |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      @ chrissy: to understand your question, I had to research further back than the post to which I had responded.
      My agreement was with @ truthseeker's reminder that much propaganda is in the media.
      I did not intend to influence what CNN calls anything.
      I do think that, of USA and European readers and thinkers, Europeans are more aware of being presented RightThink than USA citizens and residents are.

      August 20, 2014 at 9:28 am |
  23. chri§§y

    Raven? Is that REALLY you? Ill text you ok.

    August 19, 2014 at 12:14 am |
  24. truthseeker

    Philip Arlington, you might want to check this link re: religious diversity. Hopefully, you'll find it credible but also different from the Western romantic and political portrayal of the world. The contributors are credible.

    August 19, 2014 at 3:36 pm |
  25. chri§§y

    Sorry @ Joey i hadn't seen another post by truthseeker but i see now that i had missed an earlier post. My apology! I must admit that one had me puzzled lol.

    August 20, 2014 at 11:04 am |
  26. truth

    who destabilsed arab region for israel with the help of saudi arabia through arab spring?
    1. america 2.America
    3. AMERICA 4. Amerika

    August 22, 2014 at 10:25 pm |
  27. Philip

    @truth. Which presidential foundation was proven by Egypt's High Court to have been financing Muslim Brotherhood aka "ISIL" acts of state terrorism in Africa and the ME, with arrest warrants issued for the foundations director whom is also wanted by the ICC?
    1. The Barack H. Obama Foundation
    2. The Barack H. Obama Foundation
    3. The Barack H. Obama Foundation
    4. The Barrack H. Obama Foundation

    Bonus ? How many times has big media news mentioned that foundation?
    A.) Zero
    B.) Zero

    Double-bonus question. How many years did that foundation operate illegally before IRS Louis Lerner secretly granted said foundation retroactive tax exempt status and then refused to hand over emails proving it...going so far to say emails were "lost", even though the NSA has already admitted to storing all US emails for the past 6 years. (since Windows '98, really.
    A.) 6
    B.) 6
    Thanks for playing. 🙂

    August 25, 2014 at 7:40 pm |
  28. Philip

    @Banasy. Are CIA agents "boots"? How about the FBI mandated by congress to investigate deaths of American citizens in foreign lands? Like the death of Rachel Corrie at the hands of an Israeli and the death of American journalist at the hands of an Englader.
    Oh, wait. They do not count in your world. CIA and FBI agents wear shoes and even high heels. Not boots. My bad.

    August 25, 2014 at 7:47 pm |
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