Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who has served in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, says that the current war between Bashar al-Assad’s regime and an array of opposition factions should be understood in the context of a three-decade-long regional conflict, rather than that of the “Arab Spring.” He also argues that the call for America to “do something” is dangerous and based on mistaken assumptions.
So what are the options? First, to recognize that as bad as the situation is, it could be made much worse. A major western military intervention would do that. And lesser steps, such as a no-fly zone, could force the West to greater involvement if they proved unsuccessful in reducing violence. The hard truth is that the fires in Syria will blaze for some time to come. Like a major forest fire, the most we can hope to do is contain it.