Tags: edelman | us | syria | conflict

Ambassador Eric Edelman: US Cannot Be Indifferent to Syrian Conflict

Friday, 06 Sep 2013 04:13 PM

By Courtney Coren and John Bachman

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The United States cannot be indifferent to the outcome of the Syrian conflict and the use of chemical weapons cannot go without a response, former Ambassador Eric Edelman tells Newsmax.

"We can't be indifferent to the outcome in Syria and in particular we can't be in doubt about the outcome of the use of chemical weapons that goes without a U.S. response," Edelman said in an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV.

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However, one of the problems, according to the former ambassador to Turkey and Finland, is that President Barack Obama has failed "to make a compelling case both to the American people and frankly to the Congress."

Urgent: Should U.S. Strike Syria? Vote Here

"For two years, the administration has not dealt with the burgeoning crisis in Syria in a way that explained the stakes to either the public or to the public's elected representatives and he has to do that if he is going to succeed," says Edelman, who also served as undersecretary of Defense for Policy in the George W. Bush Administration.

"In addition, it's not been clear from what the administration has said what his broader strategic objectives are. They haven't outlined the stakes and they haven't outlined the strategy for defending the U.S. stakes in the region."

It's also important, the ambassador says, that Obama explain Syria's connection to Iran and the effect it could have on Iranian relations if Syria's use of chemical weapons goes unpunished.

"That strategy has got to be one that entails both punishment for violation of an international norm and that's important because we've said repeatedly – President Clinton, President Bush 43 and President Obama – that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable to the United States and that all options are on the table," Edelman says.

"If we don't enforce the WMD norm in Syria in this case, which is Iran's only real ally in the region, if you were sitting in Tehran and were the ayatollah you would probably not put too much stock in the threat of the use of force if they don't negotiate an end to their nuclear weapons program.

"That's the first objective, but the larger objective has got to be to inflict damage on the pillars of the Assad regime so that you can fracture the regime and hopefully get to the point where you get a different outcome, whether it's on the battlefield or the negotiation. It's hard to predict what that would be but it's an outcome that starts to move Syria in the direction of a post-Assad government."

Tensions with Russia are also at a high, especially since Russia is moving more of its naval assets into the Mediterranean Sea along with the United States. Two naval forces in close proximity can create a dangerous situation. However, there are agreements, Edelman explains, which should help prevent an incident from occurring.

"The relationship with Russia has deteriorated. The administration grossly oversold the so-called reset because, in fact, they made number of unnecessary concessions in the New START Treaty," he says.

Urgent: Should U.S. Strike Syria? Vote Here

"And I don't think that they really have bought themselves very much constructive behavior from President Putin because he looks at the Syria issue purely through the lens of his allergy to regime change or what he calls color revolutions."

"And he sees this ultimately as somehow aimed at him and, for that reason, we're just not going to get very much cooperation from President Putin and I would not expect much constructive behavior from the Russians diplomatically unless something changes dramatically on the ground in Syria, at which point the Russians might make their accommodations a reality. That's been their past practice," Edelman adds.




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