Ad Hoc Commentary – for peace in our time, Obama should leave Syria alone

“…President Obama reassured King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia on Friday that the United States remained committed to strengthening the moderate opposition in the Syrian civil war…”
“…Relations between the two countries have become strained in recent months, in part over Saudi frustration with the United States’ reluctance to provide arms that could end up in the hands of jihadists and extremists in Syria…”
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/29/world/europe/obama-saudi-arabia.html

“…The rationale, bluntly stated, is that to reach an eventual diplomatic settlement in Syria, it is necessary now to escalate the conflict militarily…”
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/david-ignatius-obama-appears-ready-to-expand-covert-assistance-to-syrian-opposition/2014/03/27/06717e6a-b5ff-11e3-8020-b2d790b3c9e1_story.html

Unfortunately, the pundits are still stuck in a pre-Crimea world. In a post-Crimea world, advanced weapons falling into the hands of jihadists is not the biggest worry. The biggest worry is that Putin will escalate Syria into an all-out proxy-war or even as justification for future military conquests. Remember, Putin used the Kosovo precedent as justification for Crimea. If we want to have peace in our time, America should stay out from Syria. There is no such thing as “covert assistance” when you have the Russian intelligence spying on your every move. Victoria Nuland’s tapped phone should remind the Americans that it will be an overt operation, never covert.

America does not need a proxy war with Russia, a country that boasts of turning America into radioactive ash with missiles from submarines and mines. Much will depend on the new U.S. Special Envoy to Syria, Daniel Rubinstein. Unfortunately, he had hit the ground running in probably the wrong direction since John Kerry appointed him on Mar 17, 2014:
“…The new U.S. chief envoy for Syria on Monday pledged continued American backing for political opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as the country’s conflict moves into a fourth year…”
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/new-us-envoy-for-syria-pledges-support-to-opposition-forces-as-rebels-lose-ground/2014/03/17/f6482802-adf4-11e3-a49e-76adc9210f19_story.html
“…we have determined it is unacceptable for individuals appointed by that [Syrian] regime to conduct diplomatic or consular operations in the United States…”
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-orders-closure-of-syrian-embassy-in-dc/2014/03/18/d86aee44-aeb4-11e3-9627-c65021d6d572_story.html

You can count on Putin to anticipate Obama’s move into Syria. It is probably much wiser for the Americans to stay out of Syria than to risk a covert assistance that can easily spiral out of control. A gas pipeline across Syria into Europe would neutralize Russia’s gas weapon on Europe. However, a pipeline is likely elusive. The most likely outcome from American assistance to rebels is Putin using it as a public relations campaign against America’s destabilizing actions, and to wage a proxy war. Syria will hold the balance between peace and war in our times.

Good luck in the markets.