For Defense One, I argue that policymakers need to choose between Egypt and Syria.
The complexity of Egypt and Syria is compounded by a vicious budget battle in Washington. Both the Departments of State and Defense are facing spending cuts to their operations in addition to living under sequestration. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, criticized the State Department’s fiscal 2014 budget for “a sense of uncertainty in key areas” — like what it plans to do in Syria. President Barack Obama’s June order to begin arming certain Syrian rebel groups hasn’t cleared the confusion. For Egypt, civilian and military aid is unchanged in the 2014 request, but it’s also unclear if it will continue as the U.S. government decides how to react to the recent military coup.
With increasingly limited resources butting up against demands to do something about both crisis, policymakers have a tough balancing act. Tom Donilon, Obama’s former national security adviser, told CNN in June that the U.S. had “over-invested in our military efforts in South Asia and in the Middle East” and was more concerned in the long run with economic developments in East Asia.
Go read the whole thing over at Defense One.