Intervention in Syria: Three Things to Know

August 27, 2013
8:00 am (EST)

Intervention in Syria: Three Things to Know
Explainer Video
from Video

Allegations that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against opposition fighters in recent weeks have led many policymakers to call for more assertive U.S. involvement in the country’s ongoing civil war. Matthew C. Waxman, CFR adjunct senior fellow for law and foreign policy, highlights three things that the United States must consider in weighing intervention in Syria:

More From Our Experts
  • Ending atrocities: The United States has an interest in stopping atrocities and mitigating the humanitarian crisis in Syria, but must consider whether this can be done through relatively limited U.S. military action, such as air strikes or a no-fly zone, Waxman says. Meanwhile, Washington should also safeguard the rights and safety of the population in the event that the Assad regime collapses.

More on:

Syria

Human Rights

  • Maintaining credibility: If the United States fails to intervene in response to the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons--the Obama administration’s "red line"--it could "signal a general lack of U.S. resolve," says Waxman. Engaging in "half measures" that fail to achieve U.S. objectives could similarly damage U.S. credibility, he argues.

More on:

Syria

Human Rights

  • Spillover effect: "The Syria crisis has implications for other critically important strategic challenges," including the ongoing U.S. conflict with al-Qaeda affiliates and Iran’s controversial nuclear program, Waxman says.

More on:

Syria

Human Rights

More on:

Syria

Human Rights

Close

Top Stories on CFR

United States

The nuclear arms race was perhaps the most alarming feature of the Cold War competition between the United States and Soviet Union. Over the decades, the two sides signed various arms control agreements as a means to manage their rivalry and limit the risk of nuclear war. However, deep fissures have reemerged in the U.S.-Russia relationship in recent years, raising once again the specter of a nuclear arms race.

Haiti

U.S. Foreign Policy

U.S. interests argue for maintaining ties to Saudi Arabia despite clear evidence that the Crown Prince approved the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.