GsGf"s Ottoman expert and all around savvy cat lays it out prett clear - doing Bashar Bay Bee may actually solve more probs than it creates...
The notion of a more serious and concerted U.S.-led military option
to end Assad’s rule understandably has received little attention so far.
Many fear it would deepen the existing civil war and spread disorder to
other countries. There would, of course, be significant costs to such
an operation—probably more than Washington bargains for. This is not
another Kosovo war with no casualties, which gave Americans misleading
notions about American power. Syria has air defenses whose destruction
would be costly at a time when the United States is trying to reduce
defense expenditures. And it would involve U.S. forces in a war of
uncertain duration that they do not want.
A Syrian intervention would not be Iraq redux. But it would require
something Americans are not very good at—bringing the various Syrian
parties together (no mean problem with their strong sectarian
differences) to help create a post-Assad world. Nor is a new Syria
likely to be a short-term burden; the law of unintended consequences
inevitably prevails in war. It would also be a terrible political
problem for the Obama administration.
A military attack on Syria would need the whole-hearted political and
material support of Turkey and Arab states. That is by no means
assured. Until a year ago, the Turkish government romanced Assad. Now,
it is at the forefront of trying to get rid of him, but it has done
little to make that happen other than promoting international support,
accepting refugees and providing a haven for Syrian opposition leaders.
In a potential toppling of Assad, Turkey would need to establish a
protected zone in Syria for the opposition and those fleeing any
fighting. The Turkish government, however, is not enthusiastic about a
military effort in Syria; it would not have a UN imprimatur or support
of the Turkish public. The politically besieged Turkish military is
averse to invading an Arab country and concerned that a Syrian Kurdish
entity might emerge from Syria’s internal disorder.
Arab support, particularly the Saudis, who talk much about supplying
arms to the opposition but apparently do little, is also politically
indispensable. It is not clear that support would be available, and the
Arabs could well split.
Nevertheless, there are ample reasons for considering a dramatically
different approach, and not only for humanitarian reasons. A Syrian
intervention might help with a larger and pressing Iranian problem by
removing its chief client and regional ally from the scene.
Strategically, Washington would send a far tougher message to the
Iranian leadership to halt their nuclear-weapon aspirations than any it
has delivered to date.
To have this effect on Iran, President Obama must first send an
unmistakable message to Assad: unless he is prepared to give up power,
his government will be destroyed. Such a military effort cannot win UN
approval and requires a coalition of the willing. Once again the U.S.
military would be indispensable in doing the fighting—the destruction by
air of many of Assad’s key facilities and his ability to manage a
continuing war, rather than simply enabling and equipping the opposition
Iran likely believes this kind of an American-led attack on Syria
will not happen. An attack on Syria, however, could constitute a truly
defining moment for the much bigger Iranian nuclear issue. Tehran would
find it highly difficult to intervene directly in Syria and would face a
humiliating loss and greater isolation in the region. It would be a
huge political shock with possibly vast internal repercussions.
How Iran would respond is obviously uncertain. But the United States
should consider the opportunity to change the regional dynamics in a way
that might end or put off the nuclear issue and create domestic
upheaval in Iran. One cannot preclude that an U.S. attack on Syria would
harden Iran’s dedication to developing nuclear weapons. But though it
would be hard to propose and defend, the United States would be starting
a war in Syria in part to prevent a far bigger war with uncertain but
immense consequences. There seems little doubt that it would result in
two desirable outcomes for U.S. strategy: hastening the end of the
Syrian conflict and creating a new climate for negotiating the stalemate
Realistically, all these considerations may need to be put on the
back burner for now. It’s likely that it will take a lot more violence
in Syria to generate a military effort. No matter that an intervention
would sever Iran’s Syria connection—and end a growing humanitarian