Cowboy Talk on Syria

1. Those fundamentally to blame for the slaughter in Syria are those carrying it out.
2. That said, Obama’s failure to punish Assad for the use of poison gas in 2013 gave a de facto green light for the killing to go right ahead and the Russians to double down on their involvement. He didn’t do it because he wanted to preserve the Iran nuclear negotiations.
3. Of course the US could have smashed Assad’s air force over the course of the conflict. It also possesses the wherewithal to impose a no-fly-zone over Syria. It could still do so now. The US military can project force on a far greater scale than the Russians.
4. However, neither course would have been free of risks or costs prior to the deepening of Russian involvement and the costs and risks involved would be much greater now.
5. Still, given the scale of the killing those costs and risks, even now would be worth accepting, provided those costs and risks were well understood by all parties beforehand.
6. Cowboy talk and cowboy ideas about how simple and low cost such an intervention might have been or might yet be open the way for disaster on an even greater scale.

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