Large and powerful nations should address expansive and complex problems, and not be engaged as a tactical asset by rebels that include al Qaeda. Witness the absurdity of the idea.
American foreign policy is swinging from preemptive warfare and nation building to tactical punishment for transgressions against international agreements prohibiting the use of chemical and biological weapons.
American leadership is drawn into warfare by micro events in a civil war between radical Islamic factions and a brutal regime. Step back.
Employing the process that Dr. James Rodger and I recommend in Smart Data, Enterprise Performance Optimization Strategy © 2010 Wiley, I proposed the following questions:
“In the instance of Syria, what are the desired outcomes from the U.S. point of view? How would the desired outcomes be achieved? What is the U.S. responsibility and contribution toward achieving them? (if any)”
At this moment, consider the conservative view from the Cato Institute:
“Cato’s foreign and defense policies are guided by the view that the United States is relatively secure, and so should engage the world, trade freely, and work with other countries on common concerns, but avoid trying to dominate it militarily. We should be an example of democracy and human rights, not their armed vindicator abroad. Although that view is largely absent in Washington, D.C. today, it has a rich history, from George Washington to Cold War realists like George Kennan. Cato scholars aim to restore it. A principled and restrained foreign policy would keep the nation out of most foreign conflicts and be cheaper, more ethical, and less destructive of civil liberties.”
Desired outcome from the U.S. point of view:
- Free, democratic and secular Middle East
- Sustainable economies for people living in the Middle East
- Safety and security
- Good life for all
In essence, the U.S. desires the same for other people and nations that we want for ourselves.
List of how that might be accomplished:
- Share the vision with outreach to the world.
- Acknowledge that America has limited capacity and capability, but is trying to set an example.
- Support those aligned with the vision through trade and commerce.
- Assist repressed people seeking freedom and our shared vision to secure the path to democratically elected governments whose Constitutions reflect our shared values.
- Enforce humanitarian standards for the right of people for personal freedom and security.
Now, what is the U.S. government responsibility for implementing such a foreign policy?
Because Americans have limited capacity and resources to accomplish this large vision, the only way that it can be implemented is through close collaboration and consensus, as well as allegiance among allied nations. Otherwise, American government must be highly selective and strategic about where and with whom it engages with support.
So, where does Syria fit into this scenario?
Syria is a nonaligned renegade government,and the nation is host to a large population of radicalized sects intent on gaining control. The democratic vision has not been sold or bought by many citizens. The government and rebels have both violated humanitarian standards and agreements against the use of chemical and biological weapons.
Because Syrians are behaving irresponsibly, they are imposing a threat to its neighbors. Some neighbors and members of the Middle East community are aligned with the renegade regime and irresponsible people.
The foreign policy challenge is to amass free nation support for an initiative to reach moderate people in Syria who are more inclined to embrace our vision for freedom.
At present, in the absence of clear policy, America appears to be on the verge of inflicting untimely punishment for the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons against its people.
Who in the world have sanctioned Americans to carry out this role? In the absence of well formed and well communicated foreign policy as suggested, any action by the U.S. military may be viewed as inappropriate involvement in civil strife, and a violation of international law.
"US military’s task limited, but exceedingly difficult
By Bryan Bender / Globe Staff / September 3, 2013
This is a summary. To read the whole story subscribe to BostonGlobe.com
WASHINGTON — President Obama’s proposed authorization for the use of force appears to be straightforward: “deter, disrupt, prevent, and degrade” the future use of chemical weapons by Syria.
Yet at the same time, Obama — and a growing number of members of Congress, which is slated to vote on the proposal next week — insists that US officials would not design any strike that seeks to topple the regime or involve US ground troops in a civil war."