The White House announced last week that the U.S. would soon be directly (and finally, overtly) arming the Syrian opposition, the first step down a road of further U.S. military involvement, challenging fiscal requirements, and other third order repercussions in the Middle East.

There are infinite variables to analyze in the context of Syria’s bloody two plus-year civil war; the ones we should be most concerned with are in regards to U.S. foreign policy and interests. The purpose of this article is to highlight the major variables and issues being discussed in news media and to open them for critical discussion.

A Dog in the Fight?

At the macro level, the most important questions to answer in the context of Syria are fairly obvious, yet they need to be asked: what U.S. interests are at stake and what will the extent of U.S. involvement entail? As revealed by White House staff, President Obama has identified enough U.S. interest to warrant directly supplying Syrian rebels (unidentifiable factions of which have been directly compromised by AQI’s cover organization al-Nusrah Front) with some level of weaponry to counter the Assad regime.

Citing international norms and “clear red lines that have existed within the international community for decades,” the White House deputy national security adviser’s statement shares the rationale behind President Obama’s decision in the wake of multiple alleged chemical weapons attacks by the regime.