By now we’ve had President Obama try to spread the responsibility for any intervention there around by sending the matter to Congress. I say “spread the responsibility” rather than “follow the proper protocol”, because as has been made very clear over the last few decades, most presidents have relatively little interest in following protocol if they think they can score political points by independent action.
The question, therefor, assuming that the decision is made to move forward with military strikes in Syria, presumably against government chemical weapons stockpiles, is who will profit from our actions.
Us? Not likely. Look at the mix of Syrian Opposition forces; a complicated melange of sectarian extremists, oppressed minorities, and foreign jihadists supported by other Arab states. Conversely, Syria itself is a bit of mix, government forces supported by Russia and aided by Hezbollah.
No matter which group comes out on top, the reality of the situation is that they’re not going to be especially friendly with us. They’ve no reason to be, after all; the rebels fighting in Damascus against Syria are, for all intents and purposes, the same rebels that were fighting against us in Iraq. If we intervene against the Syrian government and the rebel forces wither and die on their own, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll gain an ally in the region as the result of our actions.
Yes, the loss of human life is horrible. Yes, the use of chemical weapons is deplorable.
But I fail to see an outcome resulting from US/UN tactical intervention that make the situation better for us in the long term. About the only people who stand to profit from any action on our part against the Syrian government are those who use civil unrest to stoke sectarian violence in the Islamic world.
The enemy of my enemy is not automatically my friend, nor will helping him make him my friend.
Or, to put it in more pop-cultural terms, “They’re Just Not That Into US”.
What we have in Syria is a complicated mess, with multiple factions capable of the manufacture and deployment of chemical weapons, both with reasons to do so even if that reason is only to provoke a reaction from the West, and our own historically-founded national propensity to view any sort of “democratic uprising” as a positive thing may well be leading us into one of the worst possible outcomes of the “Arab Spring”.
A Jihadist Autumn.