Pentagon’s Strategy Says China and Russia Pose Very Different Challenges, But Could Be Equally Difficult to Resolve
The Pentagon’s strategy for dealing with the crisis over Syria is straightforward. The goal is to defeat ISIS and drive ISIS out of all of Syria. The United States has repeatedly stated that ISIS will never be gone, and that the defeat of ISIS is an essential first step in achieving a long-term end to the civil war in Syria. However, as the crisis over Syria continues to unfold, there are significant differences in the nature of the threat and the required course of action across the conflict. The United States may be at a unique moment when it decides how to respond to the crisis—this is especially true in light of the Obama administration’s announcement that it has killed its second American citizen who was fighting for ISIS.
The United States may be at a unique moment when it decides how to respond to the crisis—this is especially true in light of the Obama administration’s announcement that it has killed its second American citizen who was fighting for ISIS.
The basic dilemma here is that the United States is at the mercy of two forces that are in conflict: Russia and China, two countries that hold radically different strategic outlooks toward the conflict in Syria. Russia’s involvement in a military operation against ISIS in Syria would be difficult to assess. Russia’s intervention could be intended to support the Assad government, or to prop up the U.S. position in the conflict, or it could be intended to act as a distraction from the fight against ISIS.
China’s intervention in Syria would be far more direct. The Chinese government has used its influence to support rebel groups fighting against Assad, using its own air force to bomb the Syrian government and its allies, and to provide military equipment and training to the Syrian rebels. China also sent military advisers to Syria and is providing military aid and training to the rebels, though it has expressed concern about the conduct of the war in some areas. China is not the only major country that may have sought to assist the Syrian rebellion. It is also engaged in