Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 06/2014

A New Approach to the Syria Crisis

James F. Jeffrey

February 2014

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy


The Obama administration seems to be understating the risks of minimalist engagement in Syria and overstating the risks of greater involvement, despite the achievable, worthwhile goals of military assistance and limited use of force. The conjuncture of Syria-related events over the past two weeks does not bode well for the Obama administration's limited engagement strategy. Some argue that the talks in Montreux and Geneva isolated the Assad regime even more, presented the opposition in a positive light, and might produce progress down the road despite the discouraging short-term outcome. Yet at a time of newly reported regime atrocities, continued inter-rebel fighting, and other problematic developments, there is no evident plan to push Damascus and its supporters to accept even humanitarian actions, let alone a real ceasefire.