Commentary Magazine


Rejected by U.S., Syrian Rebels Radicalize

The costs of American inaction in Syria continue to pile up. Not only is a Syria-Turkey war growing more likely, but so is the likelihood of further radicalization among the rebels. That, at any rate, is a warning that is coming from rebel commanders themselves and they should know. The latest evidence is this New York Times article, which paraphrases one rebel leader as follows:

The Syrian people are being radicalized by a combination of a grinding conflict and their belief that they have been abandoned by a watching world.

If the West continues to turn its back on Syria’s suffering, he said, Syrians will turn their backs in return, and this may imperil Western interests and security at one of the crossroads of the Middle East.

That is a warning we should take seriously. In Libya, we intervened to oust a dictator and even though we have not eradicated the danger from anti-American groups (witness the slaying of our ambassador), the regime in Tripoli is notably pro-Western. If in Syria we do nothing, and Assad gets toppled anyway, what kind of regime will emerge in his wake? Whatever its nature, one can practically guarantee that it will be less friendly to American interests than a regime that were to emerge after an American-led intervention against Assad.