Wednesday, August 27, 2014
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Syria will be top of the foreign policy agenda after the election

It’s easy to understand why Americans would have no interest in the Syrian revolution, and no desire for the United States to be involved. Iraq, Afghanistan, and the disturbing results of the Arab Spring make it hard to be optimistic about the fate of Syria when its dictator falls.

Syria will be top of the foreign policy agenda after the election

Cars line up at the Bab Hawa crossing point from Turkey into northern Syria. It is eerie to realize that a few miles beyond that gate a war is raging, and Syrian planes are bombing civilians.   (Trudy Rubin/Staff)
Cars line up at the Bab Hawa crossing point from Turkey into northern Syria. It is eerie to realize that a few miles beyond that gate a war is raging, and Syrian planes are bombing civilians. (Trudy Rubin/Staff)

It’s easy to understand why Americans would have no interest in the Syrian revolution, and no desire for the United States to be involved.  Iraq, Afghanistan, and the disturbing results of the Arab Spring make it hard to be optimistic about the fate of Syria when its dictator falls.

However, the outcome in Syria will impact us no matter the weariness of the American public.  Unless the war ends soon, the country will become a new playground for radical Sunni jihadis of the type who once flocked to Iraq.  It is already a playground for Iran, which (contrary to an ill-informed comment by a reader of my previous blogpost) is a close ally of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad (as is Russia).

The longer the war drags on, the more likely that radical Islamists will play a major role in any government that follows Assad’s fall.  That’s why the winner of Tuesday’s presidential election will have to get more involved with the Syria issue after the election. Romney has already indicated he want to ensure that arms get to the rebels (though he’s vague on details) and President Obama, too, is likely to pay more attention to Syria if he wins a second term.

There may be no good outcome possible in Syria, but there definitely are bad and worse options.  I will be blogging about some of the faces of the Syrian revolution, whom we could usefully help, and who presents a threat to the region and the United States.

Trudy Rubin Inquirer Opinion Columnist
About this blog

Trudy Rubin’s Worldview column runs on Thursdays and Sundays. In 2009-2011 she has made four lengthy trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Over the past seven years, she visited Iraq eleven times, and also wrote from Iran, Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, China, and South Korea.

She is the author of Willful Blindness: the Bush Administration and Iraq, a book of her columns from 2002-2004. In 2001 she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in commentary and in 2008 she was awarded the Edward Weintal prize for international reporting. In 2010 she won the Arthur Ross award for international commentary from the Academy of American Diplomacy.

Reach Trudy at trubin@phillynews.com.

Trudy Rubin Inquirer Opinion Columnist
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