February 21, 2012

Pressure Not War: A Pragmatic and Principled Policy Towards Syria

By Marc Lynch

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, CNAS Non-Resident Senior Fellow, in Pressure Not War: A Pragmatic and Principled Policy Towards Syria.

Dr. Lynch argues that while the United States has a responsibility to respond to the growing violence in Syria, it should not respond with military force, which is unlikely to improve conditions in Syria and has the potential to make them far worse.

U.S. policy should instead 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:

  • Present Asad with an ultimatum: resign, or be referred to the International Criminal Court for War Crimes.
  • Tighten economic and financial sanctions against Asad regime officials and the most senior members of the Syrian military.
  • Conduct a sustained and vigorous effort to isolate the Asad regime diplomatically.
  • Strengthen the opposition and encourage it to develop a unified political voice.
  • Support a strategic communications campaign to publicize the regime’s atrocities and encourage regime members to defect.


  • Marc Lynch

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