Cover Story Overview

Syria: A Wicked Problem for All
By Bryan Price

On August 26, 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry called the recent use of chemical weapons outside of Damascus “undeniable” and a “moral obscenity.”  This is the latest chapter in an already complex civil war in Syria, a crisis that Kerry’s predecessor called a “wicked problem” for the U.S. foreign policy establishment.  The Syrian civil war satisfies all of the criteria of a wicked problem. Like most crises, the issues surrounding the Syrian conflict are complex and interrelated, and there are multiple competing foreign policy interests at stake for the United States. As a result, there is no shortage of disagreement about the way forward for the United States in responding to the conflict. This special edition of the CTC Sentinel looks at the Syrian conflict from multiple angles, including analyses that closely examine the threats posed by violent non-state actors in the region. The contributors address key issues and debates while raising some important questions that so far have received limited attention. This edition purposefully avoids proposing any policy prescriptions. Rather, it identifies and analyzes the central actors and their strategic interests in an effort to inform the debate surrounding this wicked problem.

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