Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Naval War College Strategist Outlines Steps U.S. Could Take in Syria

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Naval War College Strategist Outlines Steps U.S. Could Take in Syria

Article excerpt

The Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina University in Newport, RI held a standing-room-only event Sept. 5 entitled "Attack on Syria? A Conversation About the Strategy and Politics of the Crisis in the Middle East." Timothy Hoyt, professor of strategy and policy at the U.S. Naval War College, and Clark Merrill, a Salve University professor of political science, discussed the pros and cons of a U.S. attack as congressional hearings were underway, and a vote on whether to authorize the use of force was expected the following week.

Professor Merrill gave an historical sketch of the factional divisions and sectarian strife that have plagued Syria and its neighboring countries following the breakup of the Ottoman Empire.

Professor Hoyt described the current debate about possible U.S. military action in Syria. The U.S. hasn't decided what its objective is, Hoyt said, warning, "If you don't know what you want to accomplish you can't proceed." He posed questions for the president and Congress to answer: Do we want to contain the conflict? Do we want to deter future use of chemical weapons? Do we want to help the rebels in the civil war? Do we want to overthrow the Assad regime? Would we be able to contain the conflict if Assad is overthrown? Would he resort to using sarin gas if he were backed into a corner?

It is in the U.S. and international interest not to escalate this fight "horizontally," Hoyt continued-meaning bringing in Iran, Iraq, Israel and Lebanon. …

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