But one strike is a very different proposition than launching a big campaign. The benefit of surprise and stealth and a single-point strike may or may not
tell us a good deal about Syrian air defense, broadly conceived. Syria has about 10 times the air defense capability that Libya had, and it's compressed
into about one-fifth the space of Libya. It would be a challenging air defense environment.
What is our best option in Syria, then?
There are several things we should be doing -- NATO has to protect the NATO border. We have to ensure that Turkey is secure and that this doesn't spill
into the Turkey border.
[Western powers] should be helping states that are dealing with massive refugee populations. We should be continuing to add significant diplomatic pressure
-- and I think we're doing those things. You'll see press reports about arming the rebels -- I think those discussions are ongoing; different nations have
different views on that. The downside is, who do you arm? And what happens to those weapons afterward?
What does a post-Assad Syria look like?
We do have a fairly recent situation that's somewhat similar to Syria, and that does not fill me with optimism: The Balkans in the 1990s. If you look at
Yugoslavia -- a nation that was constructed of different ethnic and religious groups. Tito departs the scene, and the region goes through a 10-year process
throughout the 1990s. Several million are pushed across borders, requiring the intervention of tens of thousands of Western and Russian troops to bring the
situation under control. I think that might be where Syria is headed.
When people say, "what does Syria look like the day after Assad?" That's the wrong question. It's not what it will look like the day after; it's what will
Syria look like a decade after. I would not be surprised to see Syria break apart entirely. I think that is a risk.
You had the ultimate hard-power job. How did you become such an advocate of soft power?
Two things happened to me in my career that crystallized this for me: I went to the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy run by Tufts University for my
PhD. I looked at diplomatic history, culture, international law, business and finance, as well as security studies. That was extremely influential for me
in my early years. I wrote about the Law of the Sea treaty,
which was the largest negotiating project in the history of the world and was a holistic approach to negotiating security.
The second thing was the job I had before this, which was the Commander of the U.S. Southern Command, based in Miami. My mission there was to have command
of all U.S. forces south of the United States -- Central America, the Caribbean, and South America. It became clear that traditional military activity
there had not been especially effective -- there was a great deal of condescension, military activity, and invasion. There are long memories in Latin
America of that sort of approach. It became clear to me that a traditional, robust presence there would not be effective. So we did things like send
hospital ships full of military doctors and volunteers. We would send baseball teams down there. We determined that in each of these countries, we would
not be doing only traditional hard-power activities. Because of that job, that crystallized for me that interagency, international, private-public
approach, and I think it's effective.