- By Peter FeaverPeter D. Feaver is a professor of political science and public policy and Bass Fellow at Duke University, and director of the Triangle Institute for Security Studies and the Duke Program in American Grand Strategy. He is co-editor of Elephants in the Room.
David Ignatius, who is recently back from Syria, has an interesting column in today’s Washington Post.
Ignatius writes that Romney is right: Obama’s policy on Syria is failing and that Obama should be doing more of what Romney has urged him to do.
Well, actually, Ignatius does not use precisely those words. Ignatius is a strong supporter of President Obama and would not write something quite so caustic as that. But that is the gist of his argument.
He doesn’t say Obama’s policy is failing, but he does say that Obama’s "sensibly cautious policy toward Syria is unfortunately going to come to an unhappy end."
He doesn’t say that the Romney critique is correct, but he does say this:
"To deal with this problem, the United States needs better intelligence on the ground. And that’s where the hard calculus of U.S. interests meshes with the quixotic challenge of helping the Syrian rebels. Right now, the United States reportedly has a limited program to supply nonlethal assistance. This program should be tweaked so the rebels get more help building a stronger chain of command."
…and that is exactly what Romney has been saying on the topic for a long time.
And, (perhaps unintentionally) rebutting Obama surrogates who have slammed Romney for criticizing Obama on Syria and then recommending only a slightly different policy in response, Ignatius says "caution doesn’t mean inaction, and some modest changes in U.S. policy could make a big difference in outcome."
I do not know whether Ignatius’ specific policy proposal — pooling all lethal and non-lethal aid and giving it in a lump sum to the Free Syrian Commanders — is the right one. But I do know that his column would fit more easily in Romney’s briefing book for the upcoming foreign policy debate than it would in Obama’s.