News Tip: Obama's Syria Policy ‘An Exceedingly Slow-Motion Train-Wreck,’ Expert Says

More than 50 State Department officials criticize President Obama’s strategy in Syria, and call for more military action by the U.S.

More than 50 State Department officials have signed an internal memo criticizing President Obama’s strategy in Syria and calling for more military action by the United States. Duke political scientist Peter Feaver, a former White House national security adviser, writes about the letter in a Foreign Policy blog scheduled to post Friday at Below are excerpts from the blog.

  • Quotes: "The protest is noteworthy but not surprising. Nor is it likely to shift actual policy.  President Obama has many strengths, but thoughtfully engaging his critics is not one of them,” says Peter Feaver, a professor of political science and public policy at Duke University and a former national security adviser to President George W. Bush. “What is rare and quite newsworthy is for so many diplomats to join in a common protest and, rarer still, to protest the policies of a Democratic president. State Department officials skew Democratic and are usually loathe to undermine a Democratic president. However, the costs of President Obama's Syria policy are so great, and the consequences for American national security policy so profound, that this rare event is not, in context, all that surprising.” “The mistakes in Obama's Syria policy have been mistakes of choice. The president has had a remarkably free hand to respond to the Syrian crisis.” “A determined Obama could have pursued a more decisive policy; as it happened, a determined Obama was able to pursue the policy he has chosen without facing a significant political backlash. Neither Congress, nor public opinion, nor international system pressures have dictated events. Obama owns the Syrian policy and its consequences as much as any president has ever owned a policy and its consequences.” “Obama's Syria policy has been an exceedingly slow-motion train-wreck.”
  • Bio: Peter Feaver is a professor of political science and public policy at Duke University. He also directs the Triangle Institute for Security Studies and is director of the Duke Program in American Grand Strategy. From 2005 to 2007, Feaver served as a special adviser for Strategic Planning and Institutional Reform on the National Security Council Staff at the White House. Blog:
  • Archive video interview (different subject):
  • For additional comment, contact Peter Feaver at: (919) 949-9671;