And should it become clearer to everyone that Syria is starting to pose a real and urgent threat — not only to regional security but also to international security and U.S. strategic interests — inaction on the part of the president will have its political costs, too.You can already anticipate the fierce debate and political circus in Washington that could emerge from this potential scenario. Conservative outlets will not miss the opportunity to say that Obama is unwilling to protect America from international terrorism and safeguard U.S. strategic interests abroad because he is focused on his re-election campaign. Of course, the argument will be utterly unfair and ridiculous given Obama’s almost impeccable foreign policy record and his ability to make tough calls like the raid on Osama bin Laden. Yet the president would still have to deal with it and prepare himself for the possibility that such news will only help his adversary in November.
This is all hypothetical, of course, and Syria is not a failed state yet. Also, we still do not know for sure who is committing these terrorist acts.It could be al Qaeda. Ayman al-Zawahiri has already stated his interest in establishing a base in the Levant, and there are more-than-capable members of the organization in Iraq, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Lebanon who could fulfill his vision.
But it could also be the Syrian government. It is not unthinkable that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or his cronies could be ordering these attacks. Part of al-Assad’s survival strategy is to tell the world, and especially the United States, that he is fighting terrorists and thus should be given a chance to finish the job so that he can initiate political reforms. Surely another 55 deaths, when more than 10,000 are already dead, would not cause him to pause or rethink his strategy.