There has been a lot of speculation over whether the additions of Susan Rice (as National Security Advisor) and Samantha Power (as Ambassador to the UN) will make a difference to President Obama’s decision to intervene in Syria. The short answer is yes they will. Both are liberal internationalists, who played an important role in persuading president Obama to intervene in Libya. Rice recalls the formative importance of working in the White House whilst President Clinton failed to intervene in Rwanda. Power has written an exceptional volume on the American failure to intervene in genocides “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide“. These are important considerations, but in addition to this, when the Obama administration fully acknowledges the use of chemical weapons in Syria (the so called red-line), they will be in a position to argue about the credibility of the US as an international actor. Add to this the increasing threat of destabilising regional allies, empowering enemies, turning the country into a terrorist training camp … momentum will be on their side of the policy argument. It is this combination of interests and principles
that has been the cornerstone of American intervention since the 1898 victory over Spain and subsequent events in the Philippines. The policy debate has been slowly changing for months; Post-Geneva 2, all the ducks are lining up for a US intervention. It is doubtfully that this will be on the scale of Iraq (although defense estimates and back room chatter suggest that this would be needed) … but if a solution for Assad to go is not found, then the US looks set to act.