Date of Graduation

Summer 2014


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

Ilan Berman


The devastating civil war in Syria (2011-present) has been a source for much anxiety and confusion for policymakers in recent years. What initially appeared to be a rather straightforward conflict between an autocrat and citizens seeking greater freedom, has transformed into a sectarian war that has facilitated the rise of a powerful new terror group and greatly destabilized the region. This thesis attempts to formulate a realistic US response to the war. Analyzing and comparing the most prominent international actors' motivations and interests in Syria provided the basis from which the conclusions were drawn. Examination of these factors led to the determination that the United States should remain cautious and pursue a policy that emphasizes non-military options, including continued humanitarian support, generous intelligence sharing with moderate opposition groups, and pursuit of a feasible diplomatic resolution. Further, the United States should increase pressure on the Gulf States to better police money leaving their respective countries to aid radical Islamic groups in the Syrian warzone.


Syria, Iran, Russia, United States, extremism, jihadism, ISIS, radicals, Assad, Hezbollah, Gulf States, Turkey

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© Caleb Wade Bass

Campus Only