I cannot pretend to know as much about US politics as many of my esteemed colleagues these days, but the whole debate over using the Syrian Crisis for a potential wagging of dogs, lions and lion-cubs seem quite problematic to me for the following reasons:
Under the leadership of President Bashar al-Assad the Syrian regime became even more overtly corrupt and inept. Moreover it has studiously adopted certain confrontational policies with the US that cannot be explained on the basis of a conflict of interest, but on the basis of the amateurishness and downright stupidity of the Syrian President and his advisors.
As such, this regime is going to pose serious challenges to the intellectual and administrative abilities of any US administration, regardless of whether it is made up of neo-cons, “cons,” “ex-cons,” liberals, neo-liberals, card-carrying members of the ACLU, libertarians, and/or Ku Klux Klan members.
The regime is simply irreformable, the civil society cannot pose any serious threats to it, there are no capable leaders involved on any level, there are no capable technocrats worthy of name that occupy important positions that actually influence the decision-making process in the hierarchy of the regime, there are no visions or visionaries. Should the regime collapse, Syria, barring a miracle, has the potential of turning into an ethnic and sectarian quagmire that will make Iraq and Lebanon in the heyday of its civil war look like a stroll in the park on a Sunday afternoon with black-eyed maidens and eternal youths strutting and prancing all over the place.
Isolate the regime and the Syrian people will suffer all too publicly. How inconvenient!
This brings us to the second point:
While neocons and liberals, or however one categorizes one at this stage, argue over wagging dogs and other fine assortments of beasts and monsters, and while the debate over the merits of real politick vs. salvation politics rages on, there are parts of the world that are going to hell in a hand-basket, reflecting the new cold war climate created by this internal debate. It looks as if America is having a nice cold civil war by proxy over its own identity and future.
The ideological components of this war might be taking place in the halls of academia and the congress and through US and international media, but the physical aspect is taking place in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, etc. Each camp here is producing, wittingly and unwittingly, its own allies there, both ideological and tactical. And like in all proxy wars, these allies are quite capable of furthering their own particularistic agendas by stoking the debate here.
Well, despite the seemingly irresolvable challenge that a presence like the Syrian regime seems to pose, in truth, solutions can actually be found. But first, this new American civil war, no matter how cold it happens to be at this stage, has to come to an end. Otherwise the war on terror can never be won and Iraq will be followed by Syria, then Lebanon then Sudan, then Saudi Arabia, then… You get the point.
A word to the wise from someone who has his own agenda to further and pursue, one that is likely to inspire some debate at one point or another, I reckon.