Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said, in announcing the troop deployment, that U.S. forces are "working in Jordan on planning related to chemical weapons and preventing a spillover of violence across Jordan’s border."
While the chemical-weapons claims are shaky at best, preventing the violence from crossing borders is a legitimate goal. But as with any U.S. war of aggression, humanitarian claims are being used to cover up the country's real goals.
And the real interest at stake in Syria is obvious: war is profitable, especially in a country with a lot of oil.
Syria produces 401,000 barrels of oil a day. This fact alone should give pause to anyone considering the U.S. role in the Syrian conflict.
Russia has long been a backer of the Assad regime, which gives the Russians easy access to Syrian oil. The U.S., likely intrigued by the prospect of Syrian oil and natural resources has been quietly arming the rebels since at least early 2012.
However, the U.S. is unlikely to actually invade Syria, as this would be akin to open aggression towards Russia, so it seems like the situation will remain at a Cold War-style proxy war stage for now.
So if the U.S. isn't going to invade Syria, why bother with all the saber-rattling?
Well, first, if the Free Syrian Army wins, it's likely that they'll take a kinder view to U.S. corporate interests than the Assad regime historically has. This means that, as in Iraq, U.S. firms may be asked to pick up the bill (at U.S.-taxpayer expense, of course) for cleaning up the mess — a huge boon to contractors that donate heavily to political campaigns.
Secondly, all the posturing can be seen as constituting a government handout in itself. It's expensive to transport, equip and house troops, even in an allied country like Jordan. But this expense is dwarfed by a recently-announced 'nonmilitary aid package' of $130 million to the Syrian rebels. And you can bet those not-quite-secret arms deals are racking up a hefty bill, too.
The defense industry spent over $27 million in campaign contributions in 2011-2012 alone, and they're certainly looking for ways to make the Syrian crisis pay dividends on that investment. As for Hagel, he's received over $100,000 in lobbying money from defense contractors.
As the crisis in Syria burns on, don't look for the U.S. to take a more hands-on approach any time soon. But do expect that more and more of your money will be going to corporations looking to make some cash off the crisis.