From Brookings scholars, seven ideas on what to do in Syria:
1. Have a plan to stabilize Syria — Jeremy Shapiro:
The red line that the president drew last year was a mistake and I think it’s important not to double down on that mistake; don’t do something stupid just because you did something stupid before. … If you are going to get more deeply involved in the Syrian problem, you need a broader strategy, you need a broader plan, and specifically you need a plan to stabilize Syria.
2. Alter Assad’s calculus with limited strikes — Steven Pifer:
There is a rationale for a more limited action: to show Assad that using chemical weapons has risks and costs, in the form of military strikes by the United States, France and possibly others. The goal is to alter Assad’s calculus.
3. Act because our credibility is on the line — Michael Doran:
I think we absolutely have to do this, because I think our credibility is on the line. Our credibility across the board, not just about chemical weapons. But in general, there’s a feeling throughout the region that the United States is receding from the region, leaving its allies alone, exposed on the battlefield. And I think that’s very dangerous for us in many ways. … For that reason I think it’s very important to act.
4. Either do nothing in Syria or pursue decisive intervention — Ken Pollack:
Put simply, the administration must choose one of two overall strategies: do nothing or pursue an intervention far more decisive than limited strikes.
5. In any scenario, disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda – Bruce Riedel:
Whatever policy Congress endorses, it should include a robust effort to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda in Syria before it becomes an even greater threat to US interests.
6. Chart a nonviolent direct action campaign to punish Syria — David Caprara and Rev. Mark Farr
In taking [a] “road less traveled” by charting a nonviolent direct action campaign and multilateral coalition to punish Syria and strengthen partnerships for peace, President Obama and Congress would establish a higher ground and marshal moral force with potential to break the cycle of violence, thus continuing the trailblazing legacy of Nelson Mandela, Dr. King and Gandhi.
7. Congress ought to focus energy elsewhere — Bill Frenzel
The [Syria] decision comes at a time when Congressional energies ought to be focused on the FY14 CR [continuing resolution], the sequester repair, and the debt ceiling extension. Congress is already a polarized battleground. Syria, because it is different, may relieve tensions. More likely, it will crank up animosities and resentments between parties, branches and houses. Surely, it will burn valuable negotiating time.