Middle East Notes and Comment: Why Syria Matters
September 17, 2013
Notably missing from two weeks of intensive U.S. discussion about striking Syria is why Syria might be strategically important to the United States. Despite an apparent willingness to go to war against the country for its use of chemical weapons—and raining missiles down on targets is an act of war, whether war has been declared or not—few have talked about why Syria’s fate matters to the United States. The reason seems clear: If the U.S. government were to say why Syria matters, it would beg the question of why the U.S. government is not doing more to shape outcomes in Syria. Yet, not discussing U.S. interests in Syria does not make them go away. Instead, it undermines support for doing anything there, to the detriment of U.S. interests.
The plain fact is this: The United States remains deeply tied to the Middle East, and the Middle East is threatening to slip its moorings. There is no more likely cause for such a prospect today than Syria.