Syrian Crisis Shows 'You Can't Base Foreign Policy on Military Action Alone'

Apr 13, 2017

The Trump Administration is continuing to try to manage the first major foreign policy crisis of its term: the deteriorating situation in Syria. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson traveled to Russia this week to try to pressure that country to back off its support for the Assad regime in the wake of poison gas it used in the country’s ongoing civil war.

When it comes to what Trump's foreign policy is about, no one truly knows its mission. Lake Effect foreign policy contributor Art Cyr describes the administration's current policy as "inconsistent" and "schizophrenic." Cyr notes that President Trump has been repeating his campaign rhetoric, while simultaneously sending members of his cabinet to Europe to reiterate "traditional post-Cold War US foreign policy."

However, Cyr does believe that the airstrikes President Trump launched in Syrian in response to the chemical attacks allegedly ordered by President Bashar Assad were justified.

"I think it's perfectly appropriate to react the way we did...I think the administration did the right thing, but the question is what do we do now?" he asks. "You can't base foreign policy on military action alone...you need to have continuing attention to policy. That's the challenge - especially for this president."

Discipline is needed not only to avoid war, Cyr says, but to also keep the existing ties between Russia and Syria. Cyr admits that he's in the minority when it comes to this point of view, but notes that Russia has been "providing stability overall in the region in terms of maintaining the Assad regime...the alternative to Assad is not a liberal democracy in our terms, it's something almost certainly far worse than he is. I do think his days are numbered, but I don't think we should do anything abruptly to end that regime."

If the U.S. was to get more involved with additional boots on the ground in Syria; Cyr says, "it's a recipe for miscalculation and disaster."

He says that the American people should be more concerned about our involvement in Syria and the outcomes of foreign policies. "In many ways the most troublesome thing to me if anything going on in America today is people simply don't care," says Cyr. "They don't care that we are in ground combat with other major powers in Syria. It could escalate very easily and nobody seems to care in the US today in a way that we used to and in a way that we should."