Washington, February 21, 2012 — If Syria is to have any chance of reaching political transition, the United States and the international community must respond to the increasing violence there through an enhanced diplomatic strategy rather than military intervention, argues Dr. Marc Lynch in Pressure Not War: A Pragmatic and Principled Policy Towards Syria, released today by the Center for a New American Security.
Dr. Lynch, a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at CNAS and Associate Professor of Political Science and the Director of the Institute for Middle East Studies at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, argues that while the United States has a responsibility to respond to the growing violence in Syria, "the United States should not intervene with military force, which is unlikely to improve conditions in Syria and instead threatens to make them worse. Though advocates of military intervention claim it is the moral choice, it is not. Military intervention will allow Americans to feel they are doing something. But unleashing even more violence without a realistic prospect of changing the regime's behavior or improving security is neither just nor wise." U.S. policy should focus on engaging in a sustained and targeted campaign of pressure against the Asad regime with the end goal of bringing key components of the ruling coalition to the negotiating table to devise a post-Asad political path forward. Dr. Lynch recommends specific actions for policymakers grappling with the crisis, including:
While he maintains that no course of action will produce a quick end to the turmoil, Dr. Lynch argues that the top priority for the United States in Syria should be constructing a narrative of "endless isolation and economic disaster with Asad, or a rapid return to international society with economic revival and political guarantees without him."
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