Maj. Gen. James Livingston (USMC retired): “This country is in possession of WMDs. The strong possibility exists that some of these may have originated in Iraq and moved prior to the war. The other concern is that these weapons get in the hands of known terrorists. What now? We made such a big deal about controlling nuclear weapons when the Soviet Union collapsed, this is a bigger deal.”
Ilan Berman, Vice President, American Foreign Policy Council: “Speaking strategically, the long game in Syria isn’t about Syria at all. Rather, it’s about Iran. The Assad regime has long represented Iran’s most stalwart ally in the Arab world, and over the past quarter-century this “axis of resistance” has helped Tehran tremendously, most directly by sustaining and empowering Hezbollah in Lebanon. A collapse of the Assad regime would effectively sever that connection – and significantly complicate Iran’s ability to project power into the Levant. Not a bad outcome, in my opinion. Recent leaks about U.S. support to the Syrian opposition notwithstanding, the truth is that Washington has been woefully late in the game in understanding and engaging the Syrian opposition. The forces fighting against Assad are still rather fragmented and disorganized – something which the Obama administration has taken as an excuse not to get involved. But by not doing so, the White House has made a clear choice: to sit on the sidelines while other actors (such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and al-Qaeda) shape the direction of the Syrian opposition… and, quite possibly, the disposition of the future Syrian government as well.”
William Schneider Jr., former chairman of the Defense Science Board, former Defense advisor to the Bush (43) administration: “The events in Syria are a tragedy in several respects. The extensive loss of life rivals the carnage inflicted by the elder Al-Assad in the 1980s, and the reprisals that are likely to follow will almost certainly be worse. The consequences of the failure of the US government to provide effective support for democratic forces in Syria is likely to have enduring consequences. The failure to support regime change in Syria, Iran, and North Korea has created a tail-wind for the proliferation of WMD. The nations with overt or clandestine WMD programs are not selected for ‘regime change’ by the US. However, countries that have either renounced WMD (Libya), or have maintained friendly relations with the US for decades (e.g. Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, etc.) have been effectively targeted for regime change. The lesson countries will derive from the Syrian debacle is that obtaining WMD is the way one ‘gets a pass’ from the US.
“The Obama administration’s former head of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, Ann Marie Slaughter pleaded with the Obama administration to support the anti-Assad democratic forces. Syria is the vital link in the projection of Iran’s influence into the Levant, and has sustained terrorist movements in Southern Lebanon and Gaza. Supporting the democratic forces in Syria offered an opportunity to interdict Iranian influence in the region that is now likely to be foregone. The administration’s refusal to provide ‘lethal’ equipment has left the job of arming the democratic opposition to Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The opposition is only getting small arms that will be insufficient to overthrow the regime. Recognizing this, the Al-Assad regime has had no incentive to negotiate, and has quickly seen off the UN-sponsored Kofi Annan mission. The extensive concessions given to Russia to lubricate the ‘reset’ appear to be a significant miscalculation as Russia not merely supports the Al Assad regime in blocking UN Security Council action against the regime, but is providing arms to facilitate the suppression of the opposition.”