"... A rebel victory could deprive Alawites and minorities of their rights and bring Islamist extremists to power who would most likely repress the nation's moderate Sunni majority.... The United States cannot solve any of these issues from the outside. It can push for the full destruction of the chemical arsenal and an end to the far more lethal use of conventional force against civilians. It can counter the aid to Assad from Iran and Russia by providing arms and training to the moderate parts of the rebel forces. It can push for negotiations that will put a moderate unity government in place. It can continue to provide humanitarian aid, and if a stable government does emerge, it can aid in the process of recovery and development that will take years.
In practice, the United States must pursue this course over the years for both humanitarian reasons and self-interest. A violent, polarized Syria is a breeding ground for extremism and terrorism. It threatens allies like Israel, Jordan and Turkey. It is worsening the divisions and violence in Lebanon and Iraq, and giving Iran a major new zone of influence and growing ability to threaten our Arab allies in the Gulf and the world's oil exports.At the same time, however, the U.S. must carefully ration its aid and military resources. Syria is not as important as the crisis in Egypt or Iraq. Iran is much more of a direct threat. Yemen and Iraq are both far more of a center for al Qaeda than Afghanistan and Pakistan. Bahrain is a key ally and the center of our naval operations in the region. Tunisia needs help in becoming a real and stable democracy. Morocco and Jordan are allies that also need aid, and Israel's security is a constant concern...."