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Palestinians waiting for food at the Yarmouk camp in Damascus a month ago — in a photo released yesterday by United Nations and printed on page A7 of the New York Times today. (UNRWA Photo)

Guest List

Stephen Walt, Belfer Professor of International Affairs at Harvard University, author of the bombshell book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, and a columnist at Foreign Policy.
Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, a Pakistani academic, a commentator at Pulse, and author of the forthcoming The Road to Iraq: The Making of a Neoconservative War.
Dr. Laurence Ronan, a staff physician at Mass General Hospital, director of the Thomas S. Durant, M.D., Fellowship in Refugee Medicine, and medical director for the Boston Red Sox, calling in from spring training.
Nabih Bulos, professional violinist and war correspondent, born in Jordan to Palestinian parents, who returned from a trip to Damascus two weeks ago.

With Iraq and Afghanistan bleeding in our rear-view mirror, is there a case still to be made for American intervention with anything more than words in Syria’s miserable meltdown? The news and pictures from Syria are perfectly awful – sarin gas against civilians succeeded by barrel bombs on Aleppo, millions of Syrians on the run, all varieties of torture, targeting of children and doctors, a death toll in two-and-a-half years of warfare approaching 150,000, and no end in sight. But is there anything like a constructive case for American intervention?

Our guest Steve Walt from Harvard was a leader of the “realist” school of American strategy before it was fashionable. He warned all along that war with Iraq would undermine the US interest; today he’s saying we should be fighting the temptation to commit American power in Syria. Our guest from London, Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, is the historian of folly in Iraq, the “Neoconservative War,” he calls it. But he’s telling us that Syria is different – a murderous tyranny that only the threat of American force can check. And Nabih Bulos, the Los Angeles Times journalist, is just back from Damascus and a tour of the besieged city of Homs and Yarmouk refugee camp inside the city.

What should we have done, what can we still do, and is it too late to pass the test in Syria?

Reading ListStephen Walt’s letter opposing military action in Syria from September, and “The New Foreign Policy Sobriety” on a public skeptical of American interventions.Muhammad Idrees Ahmad argued on Al-Jazeera America in September that the British Parliament “over-learned” the lessons of the rush to war in Iraq.The veteran foreign-policy thinker William Polk wrote a long explainer of the roots of the civil war in Syrian history and geography for The Atlantic.Fred Kaplan, ”Obama Isn’t Disengaged from the World“, Slate. Charles Glass, “Syria: On the Way to Genocide?,” The New York Review of Books.Danny Postel and Nader Hashemi (editors of The Syria Dilemma), “Use Force to Save Starving Syrians, “The New York Times.Two documentaries: FRONTLINE, Children of Aleppo, and BBC Panorama, Saving Syria’s Children.