Some not well organized thoughts on Syria (twitter has ruined me):
- I don’t expect that the military action that’s likely about to happen will have any meaningful effect on the course of the Syrian civil war.
- I do suspect that the U.S. will strike a variety of targets (most likely with TLAMs) that are associated in some way with the deployment and control of chemical weapons.
- I think that the move of other air assets into the region (both by U.S. and U.K.) is largely a precaution against Syrian government reprisal.
- Given Syria’s lack of response to recent Israeli airstrikes, I doubt we’ll see much beyond a rhetorical condemnation from the Syrians.
- I worry that the Syrian rebels will over-interpret these strikes as support for their position, and begin to engage in risk-acceptant behaviors intended to provoke the government.
- Beyond upholding the taboo against chemical weapons use (which I think has some value), it’s not easy for me to sort out the connection between means and ends.
- I think the Obama administration made its “red line” commitment in the belief that there was virtually no chance that the Syrian government would use chemical weapons (or, indeed, survive this long). The administration seems to be struggling to escape a trap of its own making.
- I hope that the reluctance to become directly engaged on the part of the administration will limit the dangers of entanglement. However, such dangers always exist.
- On balance, I think it’s a bad idea to engage. But I also doubt that it’s a mistake of any significant or enduring consequence.