John Podhoretz thinks so–but not in the way you might think:

Syria is indeed next: It will be the next Arab country to change radically.

That doesn’t mean American forces will march on Damascus, or that U.S. smart bombs will rain down on Syrian military positions near the Golan Heights – that is, unless Syria acts in ways that seriously endanger or cost the lives of coalition forces in Iraq.

Under those circumstances, the United States would be compelled and justified to take action to ensure Syrian docility as Iraq reestablishes itself post-Saddam.

The harsh words spoken these past few days by President Bush and others are intended to warn Syrian dictator Bashar Assad: If you continue to act against the coalition, you will pay.

I think this is precisely correct. Syria has been on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list since its inception, being a co-sponsor of Hezbollah. Unlike Saddam Hussein, however, there is every indication that Bashar Assad is a rational actor who can see the writing on the wall. My guess is he can be persuaded to take the carrot–stronger diplomatic and economic ties to the West that would come from renouncing terrorism and WMD acquisition–rather than the stick. He’s seen the stick. He doesn’t want the stick.

(Hat tip: RealClear Politics)

FILED UNDER: Middle East, Terrorism, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Lila says:

    I was thinking that this Syria business may have another aim- the current Israeli Palestinian problem. I was surpprised to hear Sharon admit that Israel may have to make painful choices.Remember that Syria supports Hizbollah, and is home to many of the Palestinian terror groups, and would have to make painful concessions as well so that things can move along.