The Candidates and The World

Transition 2012

A guide to foreign policy and the 2012 U.S. presidential transition.

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Syria Update: The Candidates’ Slim Policy Differences

by Newsteam Staff
August 1, 2012

Free Syrian Army soldiers at the Bab Al-Salam border crossing to Turkey July 22, 2012 (Umit Bektas/Courtesy Reuters). Free Syrian Army soldiers at the Bab Al-Salam border crossing to Turkey July 22, 2012 (Umit Bektas/Courtesy Reuters).

The question of what the U.S. role should be in the ongoing Syrian conflict continues to spark debate on the campaign trail.

In the Christian Science Monitor, CFR Research Associate Andrew C. Miller sees little policy differences between the two candidates on Syria, noting that they both have rejected Libya-style military intervention and the Obama administration has largely pursued diplomatic policies and sanctions– efforts that GOP candidate Mitt Romney’s foreign policy team supports.

“The only discernible difference between Romney’s and Obama’s stances on Syria relates to the issue of whether or not to arm the opposition,” Miller writes.

Romney’s senior foreign adviser Richard Williamson, last week, reiterated that the Republican presidential candidate believes the United States should help arm the opposition (CNN). The Obama administration, meanwhile, has pledged non-lethal equipment assistance to the rebels.

For more on the candidates’ stances, check out CFR’s Issue Tracker on The Candidates on Democracy Promotion in the Arab World.

Suggested Other Reading:

The New York Times‘ Thomas Friedman writes that Syria is like Iraq “a multisectarian, minority-ruled dictatorship that was held together by an iron fist under Baathist ideology,” and while U.S. intervention contained the civil war and ethnic cleansing there it is highly unlikely such a move can or will be made in Syria.

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) writes in The Hill that U.S. financial problems make intervention in Syria an impossibility and that neighbors in the region should be the ones to step in and shoulder the cost of military intervention.

– Gayle S. Putrich, Contributing Editor

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