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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: This is GPS, the Global Public Square.

“But, first, here’s my take. In the debate over U.S. intervention in Syria, there is a striking mismatch between ends and means. Proponents of intervention want to defeat a ruthless and powerful regime, rescue a country from civil war and usher in a new democratic political order.

But these people say, at the same time, that they want to achieve all this with the most limited methods. “The worst thing the United States could do right now is put boots on the ground in Syria,” says Senator John McCain.

We’re often told that the goal of this intervention is to stop the killing, but sending more arms into the mix will actually increase the violence. That’s fine, say the interventionists, because the real goal is to oust Assad.

But as we learned in Iraq, ousting the dictator is only the beginning of the task. The actually goal here is the creation of a democratic Syria in which all sects can live in peace.

Now, the United States tried that in Iraq with an almost decade-long invasion and occupation spending over a trillion dollars and it hasn’t quite worked. But, now, we’re going to achieve a better outcome in Syria and just with a no-fly zone? In the mid-1980s, the scholar Samuel Huntington pondered why the United States, the world’s dominant power, which had won two world wars, deterred the Soviet Union, maintained global peace, was so bad at smaller military interventions.

Since World War II, he noted, the U.S. had engaged militarily in a series of conflicts around the world, but, in almost every case, the outcome had been inconclusive, muddled or worse.

Huntington’s answer was we rarely entered conflicts actually trying to win. Instead, he reasoned, U.S. military intervention had usually been sparked by a crisis, which then put pressure on Washington to do something, but Americans rarely saw the problem as one that justified getting fully committed.

So, we would join the fight but in incremental ways and hope that these incremental moves would change the outcome. It rarely does. Instances where we have succeeded, 1990 Persian Gulf War, Grenada and Panama, were all ones where we did fight to win, used massive force and achieved a quick, early knockout.

In Syria, the interventionists have lofty ends but no one wants to use the means necessary to achieve them. So we are now giving arms to the opposition and hoping it will bring the regime to the negotiating table.

But, as Huntington observed, “military forces are not primarily instruments of communication to convey signals to an enemy; they are instead instruments of coercion to compel him to alter his behavior.”

This reminds one of the strategy of the Johnson administration in Vietnam, use force to pressure the enemy to negotiate. But the enemy is fighting to win not to play a negotiating game.

The chance that our current efforts in Syria will do enough to achieve even our objectives is small. Eventually, the contradictions in U.S. policy will emerge and the Obama administration will face calls from people like John McCain for further escalation.

They should resist them and it’s possible that they will. The scholar Daniel Drezner argues in his blog on ForeignPolicy.com that the new move “is simply the next iteration of the unspoken, brutally realpolitik Obama policy towards Syria that’s been going on for the past two years.”

“The goal of that policy is to ensnare Iran and Hezbollah into a protracted, resource-draining civil war, with as minimal costs as possible. This is exactly what the last two years have accomplished, he writes, “at an appalling toll in lives lost.”

If this interpretation of the Obama administration’s behavior is correct, then the White House might well be playing a clever game, but it is Machiavellian rather than humanitarian games.”

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1306/23/fzgps.01.html

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John Fugelsang “Some people, like Bob Harris, had other ideas.  A successful TV writer, who’s job writing for ForbesTraveller.com gave him the chance to review some of the most luxurious locations around the world.  Bob hit it big as a contestant on Jeopardy, winning over $350,000, but rather than sit at home, Bob decided to get active, investing in more than 5,600 business in 67 countries through micro loans…..”

Fugelsang “What drove you to try to meet the people who’s lives you’ve touched?

Harris “I wanted to know if it worked.”…….

Fugelsang “What was one of the crazier experiences you had, actually going out there to meet people?”

Harris “The most important experience I had, came down to 5 words that a guy told me in Lebanon.  He had his whole business destroyed in the war where Hezbollah and Israel recently went to war.  He’d lost everything, and I asked him if he was angry at Hezbollah, at Israel, at anyone?  And, he looked at me and he said, this was his absolute truth, and these are 5 words that, if there is anything that this book is about, this is what stuck with me.  He looked at me and said, ‘you love more, you win.'”

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Fareed Zakaria “But, first, here’s my take. Yasser Arafat’s body has been exhumed for investigation, bringing back memories of the unpredictable Palestinian leader and the Middle East in which he operated.

The news broke at a time when a conventional wisdom began to take hold that the Middle East today is much more dangerous, unstable, violent and anti-American than before. So let’s take a look at the facts.

In the 1980s, the newly empowered, radical Islamic Republic of Iran unsettled the region with its promise to spread its revolution elsewhere. Lebanon was in the midst of a bloody civil war that engulfed not only itself but also the Palestinians and Israel.

Iran and Iraq fought a gruesome war with over 1 million casualties. Hezbollah attacked U.S. armed forces directly, forcing a humiliating withdrawal from Lebanon. A CIA station chief was tortured and killed, and U.S. secrets and interests compromised. And that was just in one decade.

Or consider those days from Israel’s point of view. During the 1980s, Jerusalem faced well-armed regimes in Iraq and Syria, leading members of the so-called rejectionist camp that urged permanent hostilities against Israel. No Arab regime other than Egypt would dare speak openly of peace with Israel. The official charter of the Palestine Liberation Organization called for the destruction of Israel and its replacement with a Palestinian state. Arafat’s chief tactic was terrorism against Israelis, Europeans and Americans.

Today the Soviet Union has collapsed, Saddam Hussein is gone, the Syrian regime is tottering. Israel, on the other hand, has grown to become a regional military superpower.

Its defense budget is larger now than that of all its neighbors put together. Its technological advantages put it in another league. The Palestinian Authority affirms Israel’s existence and works with it regularly.

Iran remains a real threat, but it is isolated, sanctioned and contained like few other countries in history. It is also roiled by discontent at home and facing the combined opposition of the secular Arab states, Israel and the Western powers.

Amidst the disorder, there is a broader contest for regional power. Israel has by far the most powerful economy and military, but it lacks political power for obvious reasons. Turkey has economic and military power as well, and it also has growing regional clout.

Egypt, meanwhile, is the natural leader of the Arab world, but at the moment is not in a position to dominate. Its economy is a shambles, its military second rate and under pressure from its people, and its democracy still very fragile.

President Mohamed Morsi’s recent power grab is worrying, but the public opposition to it has been reassuring.

So the Middle East today is mixed, complex region that is changing fast. Grand generalizations about it are likely to be undone by events. But it is a more vibrant, energetic, open, even democratic place than the Middle East of a generation ago.”

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1212/02/fzgps.01.html