Sunday Jun 03, 201212:54 AM GMT
US military intervention in Syria poses risks, Kissinger says
Sun Jun 3, 2012 12:45AM
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Former U.S. secretary of state, Henry Kissinger


Using U.S. military force to help overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may threaten democratic and humanitarian goals, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said in an opinion piece in the Washington Post.


Before deciding to send forces, the U.S. should consider whether there's a consensus on who should govern after the overthrow, said Kissinger, who served under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Otherwise the U.S. risks getting caught in a conflict "taking on an increasingly sectarian character," he said. Bloomberg




As military force is considered, several underlying issues must be addressed: While the United States accelerates withdrawals from military interventions in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan, how can a new military commitment in the same region be justified, particularly one likely to face similar challenges? Does the new approach - less explicitly strategic and military, and geared more toward diplomatic and moral issues - solve the dilemmas that plagued earlier efforts in Iraq or Afghanistan, which ended in withdrawal and a divided America? Or does it compound the difficulty by staking U.S. prestige and morale on domestic outcomes that America has even fewer means and less leverage to shape? Who replaces the ousted leadership, and what do we know about it? Will the outcome improve the human condition and the security situation? Or do we risk repeating the experience with the Taliban, armed by America to fight the Soviet invader but then turned into a security challenge to us?


This form of humanitarian intervention distinguishes itself from traditional foreign policy by eschewing appeals to national interest or balance of power - rejected as lacking a moral dimension. It justifies itself not by overcoming a strategic threat but by removing conditions deemed a violation of universal principles of governance.


If adopted as a principle of foreign policy, this form of intervention raises broader questions for U.S. strategy. Does America consider itself obliged to support every popular uprising against any non-democratic government, including those heretofore considered important in sustaining the international system? Is, for example, Saudi Arabia an ally only until public demonstrations develop on its territory? Are we prepared to concede to other states the right to intervene elsewhere on behalf of coreligionists or ethnic kin? Washington Post




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