The Washington Post quotes Rafik Hariri Center Senior Fellow Frederic C. Hof on the administration’s Syria policy, particularly in light of President Obama’s West Point address on May 28:
As of his West Point speech, Obama believed he had gotten his Middle Eastern policy just about right. He employed it as a model of restraint. “The president has tended to see Syria as a beckoning morass, the bottom of the proverbial slippery slope,” says Ambassador Frederic Hof of the Atlantic Council. “He has thought that by holding Syria at arm’s length he could avoid being drawn into something difficult and complicated.”
Hof suspects that, within the administration, “a major course correction is under consideration now, although I worry whether or not it would result in an effort sizable enough to make a difference on the ground.” After years of defining staying out of the Middle East as success, this may now involve saving the Iraqi government, actively coordinating support to the Syrian opposition and bolstering state institutions in Lebanon and other highly stressed countries.