In a joint op-ed on Politico, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) put forth a new approach to dealing with Syria: “Bashar al-Assad mistakenly believes he is winning. He believes that raining bombs and Scud missiles down on his people, often razing entire neighborhoods, will scare them into submission. He has made insincere overtures towards dialogue and relies on protection and support from Russia, China, and Iran. We must change the calculus — of Assad’s inner circle, of his foreign enablers, and of his army — so that they know they cannot win.”
They suggest legislation: “The bill would authorize additional humanitarian aid for the Syrian people, support for the political opposition, and non-lethal assistance for vetted elements of the armed opposition. It would seek to further isolate Assad by recommending additional sanctions against entities that still do business with his regime. The bill would also require a plan for addressing Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles, so they cannot be used against civilians or Syria’s neighbors.”
With regard to military support, they ask the “administration to explore additional actions to help create space for this new transitional government to function, by defending liberated territory from the Assad regime’s jets and missiles.”
This is the sort of measured and nuanced foreign policy we should be striving for. We have a geopolitical interest in seeing Tehran’s junior partner fall and in preventing even more refugees from pouring into and destabilizing Syria’s neighbors. The United States, as they suggest, needs to find and ally itself with the non-jihadist elements so that Syria does not become another Afghanistan. The United States have a national security interest in making sure WMD’s are secured. And we have a humanitarian interest in stopping the killing of tens of thousands of Syrians.
Between Obama’s sit-around-and-hope stance and risking troops on the ground in a major conflagration, Rubio and Casey offer a sober, responsible and proactive approach that advances U.S. interests. That is the sort of foreign policy strategizing which is too infrequently presented.