Monday, April 18, 2011

Syria and the Pottery Barn Rules

On the eve of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, Colin Powell famously cited to George Bush what he called the Pottery Barn rules: "You break it, you own it."  (Rules that, as I posted earlier today, Max Boot and those fine scholars at ISW seem to be taking to heart.  And I beg forgiveness of the for-real scholars at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World - at NYU - for mistakenly using their acronym of ISAW in that post to refer to the Institute for the Study of War.)

Today we read in the WaPo about the Wikileaks revelation that over the last few years (starting under Bush) the US has been funneling money to opposition groups in Syria for purposes of democracy promotion (read: regime change).  Well, Syria is now awash in protests against the Asad regime, which are  being suppressed at considerable cost in lives.  There's a growing sense that Syria may indeed "break."  I'm not contending that the US will then "own" Syria, but I do hope that our policy establishment is mulling over the extent to which, by our actions, we might own the unforeseen consequences that are sure to follow.

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