Getting Serious About Syria

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Members of the Free Syrian Army raise their weapons while on patrol in Idlib in northwestern Syria

If the U.S. has no appetite for military action against Iran, it has even less desire to engage kinetically with Syria. White House spokesman – and Battleland’s former boss – Jay Carney made that clear Tuesday. “We still believe that a political solution is what’s needed in Syria,” he said. “We don’t want to take actions that would contribute to the further militarization of Syria because that could take the country down a dangerous path.” So what options are available to the U.S. and its allies?

Just so happens that Daniel R. Depetris has come up with eight non-U.S.-military steps the U.S. (and its allies) might consider over at Small Wars Journal. They range from even more chat to real weapons. But arming the opposition isn’t a good one. “It is difficult to envision a loosely grouped bunch of fighters with questionable command-and-control driving back a fully equipped Syrian army without an assortment of heavy weapons, which at the moment is still politically sensitive in Washington,” Depetris writes (over at Abu Muqawama, Andrew Exum agrees, deriding any notion of outfitting a ragtag army to confront the Syrian military). It will be interesting to see which, if any, of these the Obama Administration elects to pursue. It opted for force against Libya, sanctions against Iran, and largely rhetoric so far against Syria.