Counterpoint Paper

The Syrian question remains one of the most discussed topics around the globe in terms of the effective measures that would be employed in ensuring that it is efficiently solved. Different countries including neighbors such as Iran and Saudi Arabia and outsiders such as Russia and the United States have weighed into the Syrian situation driven by varying motivates. Even as the focus remains on the elimination of the key threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), there are divided interests among the countries hence posing a challenge to the solution of the problem. In the article Want to Build a Better Proxy in Syria? Lessons from Tibet, Steve Ferenzi’s thesis is that the United States was not able to select a formidable proxy to fight ISIL because of its late entry into the Syrian conflict. Nevertheless, this argument is not essentially true, and it could alternatively be argued that the proxies have been a big letdown to the United States of America in the Syrian conflict because of the focus on parochial interests rather than the large question of eliminating ISIL completely. 

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One of the key arguments from the article is that the failure to become involved into Syrian problem fast enough was disadvantageous to the U.S. because of the limited warfare operations as a result of the manipulation of political space. In line with the U.S., there have been more difficulties creating proxies because of the late entry, and it currently requires more control over them to ensure they are performing as required in dealing with ISIL. As much as this argument makes sense to extent, it is not reliably true because most of the proxies have not been genuine in their commitment to fight ISIL. If they were committed to the course, then the United States would not have to suffer as a result of its late entry into the Syrian crisis. The proxies have been a significant disappointment because of the focus on parochial interests, especially those related to individual security rather than the security of Syria. For instance, the Kurds, who are expected to be a formidable force as the U.S. proxy would be in a better position to fight against ISIL in Syria, are always limited by hostility from Turkey which does everything to prevent their dominance in Syria. The letdown in this case is caused by Turkey as it cannot be collaborative enough in supporting the Kurds in the war. The interest here is to maintain an influence over them instead of allowing them to play their role of eliminating ISIL. Such hostility and self-interests between the proxies have affected the fight against ISIL and not necessarily the late coming of the U.S. into the Syrian conflict. Thus, there is a need of collaboration between the proxies to make the whole process of eliminating ISIL easier. 

In the article, the Ferenzi also states that the proxies could be controlled to work more effectively in fighting against ISIL through a mixture of incentives and sanctions. Ferenzi expresses the idea that such methods could be vital in seeing more territorial seizures as well as many bodies of the members of ISIL. However, the fight against ISIL should not be about controlling proxies through incentives and sanctions, but through desirable foreign relations as derived from the international relations discipline. From the perspective of international relations, a situation such as the Syrian crisis should be able to attract both local and international forces to try and solve the problem to improve general security situations. In such cases, foreign policy should not be one country directed, but the commitment of every other country that is affected directly or indirectly by the happenings. Therefore, the United States does not need to offer any form of incentives or sanctions to attract and control proxies. The best scenario in dealing with the proxies is reminding them of their local and international obligations as bound by the international relations. With an understanding of a collaborative approach toward the common goal of eliminating ISIL, countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Qatar would not be supporting their own proxies who try to fight against the proxies supported by the United States. Therefore, the whole process of solving the problem in Syria is not about the United States applying sanctions or incentives but rather about every proxy understanding their international obligations and adhering to them in that regard.

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Moreover, Ferenzi presents the argument that proxies are supposed to receive excessive resources for effective performance in the delivery of the desirable outcomes in the fight against ISIL in Syria. Thus, the argument means that the proxies would not put the U.S into awkward position with such massive resources such as arms at their disposal. Nevertheless, this argument is not true because these proxies have the tendency of turning against each other based on their alliances, hence losing the whole focus of fighting against ISIL in Syria. From the discipline of psychology, it is apparent that the mindsets of the proxies are not designed in such a way that they would be eager for collaborative system of work even in cases where they are offered the necessary resources. The United States still stands a chance of being betrayed by the possible alliances that might be established between the state and non-state proxies. Positive outcomes in the fight against ISIL will not be easily derived based on the arms or other forms of military support that is given to the proxies but by their commitment to ensure that they have a focused approach to the fight against the common enemy. At the moment, they have divided interests and remain a big hindrance in the whole process of fighting ISIL. It would be vital to ensure that all the proxies are genuinely committed to the course of fighting the common enemy first before the element of resources could be discussed. Otherwise, the whole fight would be in vain. 

In conclusion, Ferenzi tends to consider that the United States came into the Syrian crisis late enough to pose a challenge to its efforts to receive formidable proxies as the aid in fighting ISIL. Nevertheless, the proxies themselves have been a disappointment to the course of fighting. Without parochial interests as the most vital, they would have found it quite easier to win the war against ISIL. Countries such as Turkey need to be more practical in dealing with the crisis rather than venting their hostility against the Kurds who would apparently do better fighting against ISIL. Furthermore, it is not entirely about the U.S. applying incentives and sanctions in controlling the proxies but about ensuring that every proxy understands its foreign obligations and the way it should act according to them. It should not be about control but more about individual responsibility where proxies are familiar with the desirable direction. Last, resources alone are not catalysts of proxy`s success since undesirable alliances and infighting are always bound to emerge between the groups. In the overall sense, the proxies have been a big obstacle to the efforts of ensuring that Syria is safe. Consequently, the late engagement of the US in the conflict is not the factor that exacerbates the situation. 

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