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Diário de Notícias, Portugal

Kerry and Hagel

By Bernardo Pires de Lima

Translated By Jane Dorwart

31 January 2013

Edited by Heidi Kaufmann

Portugal - Diário de Notícias - Original Article (Portuguese)

Obama's new security and foreign policy team is ready to be made official. Now that John Kerry has been confirmed by the Senate, it is Chuck Hagel's turn. One of the dilemmas that the three will have facing them is called Syria. But will this also be a dilemma for Washington? The view, from listening to Kerry and from the most recent interviews with Hagel, is that the United States will keep the management of the crisis at a "comfortable" distance with the paralysis of the U.N. Security Council (Moscow ends up bearing all the blame).

However, prevention exists on three fronts. The first is the red line defined by the administration — that if Assad uses chemical weapons against civilians, the picture will immediately change. The second is if Turkey becomes a target of attacks (a new massacre occurred just days ago), now that NATO's Patriot missiles are deployed on the border with Syria. The third is if Israel believes that Hamas is making movements to attack with the help of Assad and Tehran.

It is no coincidence that Israel just put two batteries of anti-missile shields in northern Israel. In other words, the United States may be pushed into a scenario due to an intermediary reason. I say this because Kerry and Hagel, although from different parties, have views that are close and restrictive about the use of force. Kerry, who supported the terms of the American intervention in Libya, fears the collapse of the state, the Syrian territory and possession of chemical weapons by terrorist groups like Jabhat al-Nusra. With the growth in recruitment and actions, the pace and size of the mostly Sunni opposition will increase. In this situation, one can neither see an end in sight to the conflict nor anticipate a military help from the outside.

Already we can say Hagel prefers an American action to be very restricted and independent, in the sense that it is Washington that determines the time and form of operation. It is no coincidence that the Suez Canal crisis and Eisenhower are examples that he most likes to cite.



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