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American airstrikes might be needed in Syria, but that would not be the most important tactic for success, nor would more material aid to the rebels be sufficient to contain the Islamic State over the long term. As in Iraq, there has to be a political angle as well.

Helping a weakened al-Assad regime to consolidate its position in Damascus is not a recipe for sustainable success. The regime can't roll back the Islamic State now -- it is attracting scores of new jihadis every day. Helping al-Assad would multiply the numbers of recruits.

Rather, as in Iraq, Syria needs a new government.

As we boost aid to the moderate armed rebels, we must condition that help on their reaching out to disaffected regime supporters and developing with them a common political stance for a new, negotiated national unity government, with or without al-Assad.