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And yet it’s unclear what he realistically hopes to accomplish with this step and what further steps he might take if it doesn’t do the job. It’s also unclear how broadly he views this conflict and our role in it. Is the goal simply to stabilize Syria? Or does he also view the civil war as one piece of a regionwide Sunni-Shia conflict? (Clearly, the other interested outside powers do.) And in what way does he think his policies might exacerbate — or mitigate, reroute or tone down — this larger, conflict? Or is he stepping into this deep muddy only to keep the Shia side, chiefly Iran and Hezbollah, from gaining too much strength? In which case, won’t this just ratchet up the violence and swell the death toll?
At some point, perhaps after the consultations with the G8 nations and the allies in the region, President Obama — not a deputy adviser — needs to lay out his thinking on all of these matters.
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