October 18th, 2014
11:29 PM ET

The problem with the U.S. strategy in Syria

Watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

By Fareed Zakaria

For any strategy to work in Syria, it needs a military component and a political one. The military one – a credible ground army – is weak. The political one is non-existent.

The crucial underlying reason for the violence in Iraq and Syria is a Sunni revolt against governments in Baghdad and Damascus that the Sunnis view as hostile, apostate regimes.

The political solution, presumably, is some kind of power-sharing arrangement in these two capitals. But this is not something that the United States can engineer, certainly not in Syria. It tried it in Iraq and, despite 176,000 troops on the ground, tens of billions of dollars, and David Petraeus' skillful leadership, the deals he brokered started unraveling within months of his departure, well before American troops had all left.

The only strategy against ISIS that has any chance of working is containment – bolstering the neighbors who are willing to fight militarily and politically, neighbors who are threatened far more than the United States is. They include, most importantly, Iraq then Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and the Gulf States. The greatest challenge is to get the Iraqi government to make serious concessions to Sunnis so they are recruited into the fight, something that has not happened so far.

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

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Topics: Fareed's Take • Syria

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soundoff (216 Responses)
  1. Better Tomorrow


    Indian Army::::

    :::Killed 10 million bangladeshis
    :::Rayped 7 million bengali women
    :::M assacred 200,000 muslims in Meerut
    :::Murdered 1 million Kashmiris and rayped 500,000 and 50,000 are missing
    :::In Assam 350,000 have been killed
    :::During 1947 hindus murdered 3 million muslims
    ::::Murdered millions of Sri Lankans
    :::: Millions of Sikhs have been killed


    October 20, 2014 at 7:25 am |
    • Sounds

      Sounds like a good start to me.

      October 20, 2014 at 10:03 am |
      • Crockett

        Surely for terrorists like you it is. Did you raype your mother today already?

        October 20, 2014 at 10:41 am |
    • Blue Saffron

      Them hindus days are numbered. ISIS has arrived. Watch. Get your pop corn buttered up. India will soon be an inferno with Modi being BBQ'd to reincarnation. Good karma.

      October 20, 2014 at 1:31 pm |
  2. Blue Saffron

    You cannot have discussion on Syria\ISIS without India. They are Russian allies.

    BTW whatever happened to Ukraine\ Crimea? A few weeks ago they were existential threats to America!! Nobody had heard of ISIS !!

    It seems to me wherever CNN deploys cameras\resources for a few weeks becomes the focus for ratings sake.

    So I don't think ISIS is an issue.

    October 20, 2014 at 8:14 am |
  3. Blue Saffron

    Here is my financial analysis on ISIS.

    We all know interest rates will soon creep up.
    Capital markets are concerned. Stock markets are in turmoil.

    We all know that like Greece, India has one of the highest GDP to Debt ratios. When rates go up, India will default on its financial obligations. The country will collapse. It is already in serious economic turmoil.

    ISIS has figured it out and is positioning itself to take a big chunk of India away for its Caliphate if not the entire swathe.

    October 20, 2014 at 8:33 am |
  4. chri§§y

    Well @ rupert YOU sure had a great time last night joking about it didnt you? Quit being so two faced already!

    October 20, 2014 at 9:24 am |
  5. palintwit

    Ahhhh. Another glorious week of Palin bashing.

    October 20, 2014 at 9:57 am |
    • So True

      And some people (term used loosely) actually voted for her. Buffoons.

      October 20, 2014 at 10:06 am |
      • palintwit

        You can always spot a tea party patriot by their beanie copter hats.

        October 20, 2014 at 10:18 am |
  6. Crockett

    Million People March is now underway in Britain on liberating Indian Occupied Kashmir.
    Those participating from USA the flights will depart from International Arrivals Terminal at JFK for Heathrow.
    Special planes have "LIBERATE INDIAN OCCUPIED KASHMIR" signs on them in RED.

    October 20, 2014 at 10:46 am |
    • Blue Saffron

      What has this to do with Syria, Crockett, may I ask?

      October 20, 2014 at 10:55 am |
      • Mirepoix

        The Kashmir Million March is much more important than Syria. Get it? Tantrik.

        October 20, 2014 at 1:12 pm |
  7. Blue Saffron

    We need to drop our opposition to the Assad regime and ally ourselves to it in order to make common cause against the ISIS.

    October 20, 2014 at 10:53 am |
  8. Philip

    Odd how major media never mentions Muslim Brotherhood anymore. It's as if they disappeared.

    October 20, 2014 at 11:49 am |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini

      The right-wing media hardly mentions the Ukrainian separatists too. They're still around and hopefully, they may triumph in the end.

      October 20, 2014 at 11:58 am |
  9. Mirepoix

    All ya sand nigghas talking about right wing and tea party can only get you so far.

    October 20, 2014 at 1:23 pm |
  10. Blue Saffron

    The prevailing conditions in USA reminds me of Seven Days in May. The time is ripe.

    October 20, 2014 at 1:28 pm |
    • Never

      Have you ever been to the US? No.

      October 20, 2014 at 2:02 pm |
      • Crockett

        Living in Monaco why the would someone wanna go to a s hithole like that? Hunh?

        October 20, 2014 at 2:30 pm |
      • Cobalt

        To take a s hit. I used to go to India while trekking in Nepal just to s hit there.

        October 20, 2014 at 2:51 pm |
  11. Blue Saffron

    ISIS poses no threat to nobody. They have set up soup kitchens for the needy. Go have some chicken noodle.

    October 20, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
    • Now that's funny

      Now that's funny!!!

      October 20, 2014 at 2:01 pm |
      • Cobalt

        Did someone tickle your balls

        October 20, 2014 at 2:50 pm |
      • Crockett

        someone f ingered his a zz.

        October 20, 2014 at 5:13 pm |
  12. Blue Saffron

    Folks, six flights of Airbus have left JFK today for Heathrow. Recall this is for Kashmir Million March. Pax are beung dined at Emirates Business Lounge prior to boarding.
    There is still time for you to participate. Come one come all.

    October 20, 2014 at 3:36 pm |
    • Chelsea

      This is supposed to be a big thing in London. They should do same in USA.

      October 20, 2014 at 4:03 pm |
      • Crockett

        They are gonna. India and Pakistan are virtually at war with each other now. Reports indicate that this time it will be a nuclear war. Hate to see the billion plus hindoos turn into pig s hit.

        October 20, 2014 at 5:12 pm |
  13. Chelsea

    Why does not India hold a plebiscite in Kashmir?

    October 20, 2014 at 4:02 pm |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

      Because Indians like the best sapphires.

      October 20, 2014 at 4:50 pm |
      • Crockett

        But you hindoos are raypists aren't ya?

        October 20, 2014 at 5:09 pm |
      • Philip

        But you Americans are raypists aren't ya. Big fat slob ones and openly gay priests.

        October 20, 2014 at 5:21 pm |
  14. Philip

    Uganda's UN diplomats have had their travel visas revoked. Part of an ongoing US/UK strategy to intimidate Ugandans into legalizing sodomy and same-sezx marriages. Foreign aid dollars are also being drastically reduced.
    Meanwhile, sodomy remains illegal among US armed forces.

    October 20, 2014 at 5:19 pm |
    • Hannibal

      Uganda kills their own citizens who are suspected of being gay. You approve? You're as bad. You approve of geonocide. Fuck you.
      Worry about your own problems with sexuality and stop worrying that people find out your secret.

      October 20, 2014 at 10:16 pm |
  15. Blue Saffron

    "ISIS is just a footnote. The larger picture is the atrocities against moslems. This chapter was written by India. ISIS fights for justice.

    Therefore, it has opened up an office in India. It is now a multinational just like McDonalds. It serves fast justice. Head on a plate. A lesson learned well from hindus.


    October 20, 2014 at 6:07 pm |
  16. chri§§y

    Arent you American @ Philip?

    October 20, 2014 at 6:28 pm |
  17. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

    Scotland held its plebiscite in a day !!!

    The concept is no different than what we Americans are doing in Puerto Rico. Let the people decide their fate. This is what democracy is all about.

    Unlike what hindoos did in Indian Occupied Kashmir, we Americans didn't send in the Army to Puerto Rico to occupy it and raype the people.

    October 20, 2014 at 7:07 pm |
    • Hannibal

      And they voted to stay!!! So your point is pointless!!! Big deal!!!

      October 20, 2014 at 10:17 pm |
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

        So why are you afraid? Hold tbe plebiscite in Indian Held Kashmir. The point is to let people decide. That is what democracy is all about.

        October 21, 2014 at 3:55 am |
    • Hannibal

      And Puerto Rico wants to stay a comminwealth! You have no point!!! You're just a fucking bigot who got outsourced! You don't give a DAMN about India or Kasmir!

      October 20, 2014 at 10:22 pm |
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

        Listen. Why are you scared of holding plebiscite in Indian Held Kashmir? Does not India believe in democracy? Or is that a ploy to get more aid from America?

        October 21, 2014 at 3:59 am |
  18. chri§§y

    Amen @ Hannibal! People need to stop trying to change other countries cultures! Its what makes us all unique!

    October 20, 2014 at 11:04 pm |
  19. Mike

    It looks that Ashton and John Kerry and mullah regime representative (Zarif) have a meeting to make some fake nuclear agreement !! that includes removing all iran regime sanctions and give the Iran regime right to continue making its nuclear bomb in the hidden places and give all the ME control to the Iran terrorist regime includes the Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Yemen?!!!

    October 20, 2014 at 11:14 pm |
  20. Mike

    The main issue is ignoring the root of problem that is shia dictator Assad!!
    John Kerry wanted to make Iran terrorist regime happy to do a Null and pre failed deal with the liar Iran Ayatollah regime that are Shia terrorists worse than ISIS!

    October 20, 2014 at 11:20 pm |
  21. Mike

    Remove all Shia armed foreign terrorists groups from Syria and Iraq like Hezbollah and Badre from Iraq and Syria that getting support from the Iran Shia terrorist and let the Sunni people also participate in the future of region!

    October 20, 2014 at 11:38 pm |
  22. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

    Fareed is a CIA agent implanted at CNN to spread misinformation. He is a convicted plagiarist. He is from India. We are well aware of his pro Indian and Israeli leanings.

    Fareed needs to seek atonement and perhaps another profession. His ethics are third world and similar to the woman bashing Microsoft guy who is also of Indian origin. Shame on them. They are misfits in our western society.

    October 21, 2014 at 4:01 am |
  23. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

    So let us talk about the muslims in India since Fareed segway(ed) this into his post. The muslims in India have been massacred, suppressed, maimed and rayped by the hindu majority in India. They have been living in oppression. Suffocated. Genocides committed against them.

    The time has come for Muslims in India to rise and demand a separate independent state for themselves. Where they can live in dignity, in peace, in a civilized culture and not under Hindu subjugation. We have seen the fear in your eyes and the quiver in your voices. From the ashes of India shall rise the Phoenix.

    The western world and Americans support a separate state for the Muslims in India. A state based on democratic principles , capitalism, a belief in the unity of god .

    October 21, 2014 at 4:02 am |
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