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Policy Analysis

Congressional Testimony

Syria After the Missile Strikes: Policy Options

Michael Singh

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House Foreign Affairs Committee

April 27, 2017

A former National Security Council director spells out how Washington should follow up on its efforts to deter Assad's atrocities, keeping in mind that a broad campaign to 'solve' the Syria conflict would be futile in the near term.

As the Trump administration crafts its policy toward Syria, it will need to take as a starting point today's reality. This might seem obvious, but there is a temptation in policymaking to use current policy to correct for past errors. But whatever one's criticisms of President Obama's approach to Syria, the mistakes of 2011, 2013, and 2015 cannot be revisited, and the policy recommendations made then must be put aside in favor of ones suited to the present situation. Today's realities are stark, so in designing a Syria policy, the Trump administration should resist "solutionism." The roots of the conflicts in Syria run very deep; the United States will not "solve" Syria, even if we expend vast resources in the attempt. Instead, the U.S. should determine what objectives are necessary to advance our vital interests, and devise strategies and policies to accomplish them. These objectives should include the following...

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