March, 18 2014
National Security Council Memorandum on the Civil War in Syria The Middle East has been a location of great interest and involvement by the United States of America since the end of the Second World War. With our presence and involvement over the recent years touching a vast majority of the Middle East, it is of no surprise the United States’ immense concern with the current crisis of the Syrian civil war. Syria’s recent use of chemical weapons and crimes against humanity has put the international community in a position of concern and uncertainty as to how to react to the unacceptable breach of international law. Statement of the Issue
There has been an ongoing debate as to how the United States of America should address and handle the current civil war in Syria. The debate originates from Obama’s frustration in regards to supporting the United States’ current involvement in the issues of the Middle East, and whether or not taking action against al-Assad and his regime would be too costly to our nation. One of the chief criticisms of our great nation is that we act too boldly as the world’s policeman. In our historical involvement and insertion in other nation’s issues, we have developed the reputation of being too dominantly involved in issues that are not our own nor that directly pertain to threats of U.S. national interest. Unfortunately, aspects of international politics and world dynamics are not one dimensional and actions that do not directly affect our nation may indirectly affect our alliances or positions in neighboring parts of the world. There are many factors to consider in approaching the current civil war in Syria; this paper will address the question of what U.S. foreign policy should be towards Syria during this time of internal conflict? I will approach this question by including a brief historical synopsis of the Syrian- U.S. relationship and the current issues in Syria followed by the significance of the Syrian civil war to U.S. national interest. I will then propose three alternative courses of action and address the costs and benefits of each, concluding with my preferred course of action and a proposed plan of its execution. Historical Background
In regards to US historical relations with Syria, the United States established diplomatic relations with the Middle Eastern country in 1944i. That liaison then progressed to a very unsound relationship as the U.S. advanced through the Arab-Israeli War and other instabilities until 1979 when Syria landed itself on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Since then the United States implemented exportation sanctions under the Syrian Accountability Act and made Syria ineligible to receive much aid as well as military support and equipment from the United States as consequences of its continued support of terrorism.ii Over the years there has been cooperation over many regional issues, but the two governments still differ and lack direct support for one another.iii According to the U.S. Department of State, U.S.-Syrian relations saw an even more dramatic decline between 2003 and 2009. Issues such as Syria’s position as a foreign army transit point during the Iraq War, its support of the Iraq insurgency, its interference in the U.S.-Lebanese affairs, as well as its blatant dismissal of human rights on many occasions and its pursuance of weapons of mass destruction, are all factors that led to the declining relationship.iv Today the U.S. remains bitter in her relationship with Syria over issues of international terrorism and its role in the Iraq War and continues to implement heavy sanctions and restricted trade with the Middle Eastern nation.
The nation’s internal conflict sparked with Syrian protests against Basahr al-Assad and his Ba’ath administration in March of 2011. v The Syrian people demanded economic and democratic reform of the existing structural governmentvi. They began with peaceful...
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