When it comes to Syria, does the U.S. have a 'dog in the fight'? There are no good options and many reasons not to intervene in Syria: Assad's powerful allies, the public's aversion to another war, and wariness over an opposition army that includes Islamic extremists. However, holding back means ignoring a growing humanitarian crisis, where the number dead has topped 100,000. Discovery of Assad's use of chemical weapons prompted President Obama to approve the delivery of small arms and ammunition to rebel forces. But does this call for more assertive policy from the administration, or would direct intervention hurt our strategic interests?
Graham Allison is director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Douglas Dillon Professor of Government at Harvardâ€™s John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he was the dean from 1977 to 1989. He also served as special advisor to the Secretary of Defense under President Reagan and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy and Plans under President Clinton. He was a member of the Defense Policy Board for Secretaries Weinberger, Carlucci, Cheney, Aspin, Perry, and Cohen. His publications include Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Realizing Human Rights: Moving from Inspiration to Impact. His most recent book is Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe.
R. Nicholas Burns
Nicholas Burns, a career foreign service officer, is Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He is Faculty Chair of the school's Middle East Initiative, India & South Asia Program, and is the director of the Future of Diplomacy Project. After 27 years of service in the U.S. Foreign Service, he retired in April 2008 as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, the third-ranking official in the State Department. Prior to that, he was Ambassador to NATO (2001-2005), Ambassador to Greece (1997-2001), State Department Spokesman (1995-1997), and worked on the National Security Council staff (1990-1997). Currently, Burns is Director of the Aspen Strategy Group and a senior counselor at the Cohen Group. He also writes a bi-weekly foreign affairs column for the Boston Globe and is a senior foreign affairs columnist for GlobalPost.
John Donvan is the moderator for "Intelligence Squared U.S." He is an author and correspondent for ABC News. He has hosted "Nightline," "World News," "Good Morning America," and NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” in addition to producing “My Generation” for PBS. He has also served as ABC’s Chief White House correspondent and held postings in London, Jerusalem, Moscow and Amman. Recognized by the National Magazine Awards for his 2011 Atlantic profile piece “Autism’s First Child,” he is currently writing a book on the history of autism to be published by Crown in 2013.
Richard Falkenrath, Deputy Assistant to President Bush and former Deputy Homeland Security Advisor, has held a range of leadership positions in U.S. counterterrorism efforts. The principal author of the National Strategy for Homeland Security, he served as Senior Director of Policy and Plans within the Office of Homeland Security after 9/11. From 2006 to 2010, he served as the New York City Police Department's Deputy Commissioner for Counterterrorism, where he strengthened the city's overall effort to prevent, prepare for, and respond to terrorist attacks. Falkenrath is now Principal at The Chertoff Group, a global security and risk-management advisory firm; an adjunct senior fellow for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security at the Council on Foreign Relations; and a contributing editor at Bloomberg News.
Sir Nigel Sheinwald
Sir Nigel Sheinwald was British Ambassador to the United States for five years (2007-2012). Previously, he served as Foreign Policy and Defence Adviser to Prime Minister Tony Blair and Head of the Cabinet Office's Defence and Overseas Secretariat (2003-2007), as UK Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the European Union (2000 to 2003), and as Europe Director in the Foreign Office (1998-2000). He also served in Moscow and as Foreign Office Press Secretary. In March 2012, Sheinwald retired from the Diplomatic Service and is currently a non-executive director at Shell, a senior adviser to the Universal Music Group, and a visiting professor in the Department of War Studies at King's College, London.
Former Deputy Homeland Security Advisor Richard Falkenrath asks how the U.S. can have a dog in the fight with Syria when there is no dog to support, adding America has no clear allies on the ground in the Syrian Civil War.
Former Assistant Secretary of Defense Graham Allison and former British Ambassador Sir Nigel Sheinwald debate why the ideal outcome in Syria hinges on either the U.S further engaging itself in the conflict, or maintaining the status quo.
Richard Falkenrath, Nigel Sheinwald, and Graham Allison debate the nature of the opposition forces in Syria. Quoting the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff General Martin E. Dempsey, Graham Allison argues that the U.S. has a "very opaque understanding of the opposition."