What's the end game of this empire? We'll figure something out on our way, while 'controlled' chaos reigns...

WimR Netherlands
You cannot ask for a negotiated settlement and at the same time insist that Assad should go first. That is the same as saying that you only want to talk about surrender. It is aggression within a nice wrapping.

Obama seems ignorant about how revolutions work. Once you have eliminated one side out of the equation the other side has a free hand. People asking for moderation risk being accused of being supporters of the old regime. It is no coincidence that many revolutions (France, Russia, Iran) have been taken over by radicals who initially were a minority. And with the Islamic radicals in the Arab world being supported with lots of money from the Gulf the chances for a radical takeover are even larger in the Arab world.

It would be much wiser to have real negotiations. By allowing the US to tip the balance on many issues this would allow the US considerable influence. As can be seen in historic examples (South Africa, El Salvador, Spain) it would also offer good prospects for stable democracy.

Unfortunately in the end US policy towards Syria seems to be made by State Department veterans who are committed to regime change. They may talk about casualties and human rights in Syria when it furthers their cause but in the end they don't care at all how many people have to die as long as they can reach their goal.

C.O. Germany
Pondering on the general Western strategy towards Syria The New York Times Editorial a couple of days ago said:"Mr. Obama and Europe should keep trying to persuade Russia to abandon its unconscionable support for Mr. Assad and to work cooperatively to stabilize the region." I think the opposite is true. The United States should pressure Qatar and Saudi Arabia to stop financing, inflaming and arming the jihad in Syria and elsewhere in the world. This may be difficult for certain people because the theocratic dwarf of Qatar with its 50.000 inhabitants has gigantic investments in western economies and harbors the military center of the US in the Middle East. But Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the West's allies, are religious family-dictatorships with a segregation of men and women, have a religious police and no political parties at all. What a striking difference to pre-war Syria with its multiethnic society, religious tolerance etc. Unfortunately the new and old goal of the West and its "friends" is still regime change, for Qatar the elimination of a heretic secular neighbor, for the US the end of a leftist crony of Iran. No matter how high the human cost. At this stage I think that the foreign policy of Russia in respect to Syria is on the right side and I hope that Kerry would start a new initiative with Lavrov and Brahimi for a political solution in Syria.

Bob Walton Severn, MD
Unless our goal is to support the Islamists, we ARE on the wrong side. Neither side in this conflict are our friends but Assad has not harmed us. The body armor and night vision scopes the administration will provide to the Islamists will be seen again ... in our cities and towns as police side arms become less effect against terrorist criminals and terrorist intelligence collection becomes more effective.

Toddintr USA
Those people fighting against the legitimate government of Syria are soldiers of fortune, contract killers, collected from various countries in the region. The US, and Turkey as well, are on the wrong side.

Thinker Northern California
Who can forget that our Secretary of State, John Kerry, tends to be “for” wars before he’s “against” them?

So far, of course, Kerry has been strongly “for” the war in Syria, hoping thereby to establish his non-wimp credentials lest any critic suggest that his belated opposition to the Iraq war was anything more than a forgivable departure from his steely hawkish resolve. And if history is any guide, we need not worry that Kerry will switch to “against” until it’s far too late, until after we’ve jumped in with both feet with his strong encouragement during his “for” phase.

On the other hand, Kerry has never been burdened by any felt moral or intellectual need to maintain consistency in his positions. Maybe he’ll soon figure out two things that will cause an earlier shift to “against” in Syria:

1. Many of the Syrian rebels – aka those that actually do most of the fighting – are not secular young men just taking a term off from college; they’re hardened jihadists who predictably will turn on the secular rebels (and us) the moment the fighting is over.

2. Whatever we supply to the “good” rebels will end up in the hands of the “bad” rebels, paid for by all the money being funneled to the “bad” rebels by our friends in places like Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

"And we are fools to believe that this will not come to our shores and we can't pretend to be blameless victims in all of this when it does happen."

Can't pretend? Of course we can.

When skeptics point out that Osama bin Laden turned our own support against us years later, many Americans suggest those skeptics are engaging in an absurd "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" connecting-of-the-dots. And when our Libyan ambassador is shot dead, or the French Embassy is bombed, by the same Libyan rebels to whom we supplied those guns and bombs a year or so earlier, many Americans sincerely consider that to be unpredictable, aberrational behavior that does not reflect the warm and fuzzy feelings of most Libyans toward Americans.

So of course we can pretend. We're doing it right now in Syria, and many people are urging that we do more of it.

Bernie NYC
A very true statement is that Syria does remain that last remaining secular state in the Arab/Islamic world - if it falls, Jordan will no doubt easily fall next and the Muslim Brotherhood and other extremist will be galvanized internationally. And we are fools to believe that this will not come to our shores and we can't pretend to be blameless victims in all of this when it does happen.

Karen Maine
We Americans have a very short memory. The Assads have kept what peace there has been in the Middle East ever since the end of colonial control and the establishment of Israel. Can we not even remember Lebanon's civil war, 1975 to the early 1990s, and the role Syria played in finally ending it? And the part Israel played in prolonging it?

We should also remember what happened in 1861 when a coalition of once-sovereign states that had by choice entered into a coalition government decided to withdraw: the bloodiest war in history was waged to prevent them. The world's most powerful empire at the time came to the aid of those state governments wishing to end the coalition that they had chosen to enter only two score and fourteen years before. When we speak of the force Assad is using against the rebels, we would do well to remember Sherman's March to the Sea.

And, for the record, I am a Yankee from Belfast, Maine, where we put some pride in getting things straight.

Michael Central Florida
Every once in a while the Syrian situation reminds me of an early rebellion that took place in the 1860s, with Abraham Lincoln in the role of Bashar al-Assad. If world sentiment had favored the rebels back then, we might be living in a different world today. Good book about that.

controlled chaos

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