Here’s your US foreign policy puzzler for the day: When is regime change not regime change?
When the regime stays in power but loses its ability to rule. This is the current objective of US policy in Syria, to undermine Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s ability to govern the country without physically removing him from office. The idea is simple: Deploy US-backed “jihadi” proxies to capture-and-hold vast sections of the country thereby making it impossible for the central government to control the state. This is how the Obama administration plans to deal with Assad, by making him irrelevant. The strategy is explained in great detail in a piece by Michael E. O’Hanlon at the Brookings Institute titled “Deconstructing Syria: A new strategy for America’s most hopeless war”. Here’s an excerpt: