As the situation on the ground in Syria becomes ever more fluid and the Assad regime appears to be tottering, a familiar group of hawks is calling for U.S. military action to fill the void. As reported by Foreign Policy‘s Josh Rogin, on Tuesday two prominent neoconservative groups, the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) and Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), released an open letter to President Obama calling for the use of U.S. airpower to establish “safe zones” in rebel-held areas. The letter suggests that “the United States cannot outsource its strategic and moral responsibilities to cynical great powers, regional actors who do not fully share our values, or international mediators. Only resolved U.S. leadership has the potential to halt the bloodshed and ensure the emergence of a Syria that advances America’s national security interests.”
The letter’s sixty-plus signatories include only three Syrians, but the roster will be rather familiar to those who remember the various open letters released by the FPI’s predecessor group, the Project for the New American Century (PNAC).
These letters played a key role in the public runup to the Iraq war. Soon after the September 11 attacks, for example, a group of many of the same signatories as today’s letter claimed that “even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.”
While the FPI/FDD letter includes a handful of Syrian opposition activists and human rights officials (notably Amnesty International’s Larry Cox), it remains dominated by neoconservative pundits (such as William Kristol, Robert Kagan, Michael Ledeen, Martin Peretz, and Cliff May) and Bush administration veterans (such as Karl Rove, Elliott Abrams, Douglas Feith, and John Hannah). (More information about most of these individuals can be found at RightWeb.) The full text and list of signatories can be found here, courtesy of Josh Rogin.