A panel titled "Intervention: Limits of US Power?" was organized by the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI) and the Center for American Studies and Research (CASAR) at the American University of Beirut on 13 Ocotber 2014.
The panel featured Vijay Prashad (IFI Senior Research Fellow), whose talk was titled "Obama`s ISIS Policy," and Jadaliyya Co-Editor Lisa Hajjar (Edward Said Chair of American Studies at CASAR), whose talk was titled "Interventions from the Sky: Drone Warfare as a Projection of Power without Logic or Forseeable End." Karim Makdisi (Associate Professor of International Politics, AUB) was the moderator.
In his presentation, Prashad puts the issue of the United States` current intervention in Syria into a broader historical perspective to analyze a recurrent narrative of "America to the rescue." Yet, he explains, these putative "rescue" missions rarely if ever achieve their stated goals. His other main argument is that the United States is not losing "power" but rather "primacy" as the international actor.
Hajjar focuses on the nature of the present US intervention in Syria against Da`ash (ISIS) in terms of strategy and tactics. The "no boots on the ground" nature of this military operation is unlikely to achieve the goal of "defeating and degrading" Da`ash, and in a larger sense the intervention has no strategic goals. And tactically, the fact that the CENTCOM drones are concentrated in Afghanistan means that the use of manned aircraft presents the kind of risks that the "no boots on the ground" would aim to avoid. Without the kind of on-the-ground intelligence that bombers usually rely on to identify targets, there is pressure on the Pentagon to loosen the restraints on targets to be bombed, thus making civilian casualties more likely.