Back at the time of people demanding that we go in to unseat Assad, who has remained considerably more tenacious in his grasp on some power than people predicted and who is still responsible for more deaths than ISIL (though that is probably merely because he has been there for much longer), I wrote this:
However, ladies and gentlemen who demand that we intervene in Syria, could you answer at least some of the following questions?With a few changes those questions are still relevant. Obviously, if we are talking only about extended bombing (people seem not to have noticed that we are already involved in it to some extent) then the urgency of those questions is not so great. Even bombing, as was carried out in Libya, now a completely dysfunctional state, carries with it certain consequences. What if we actually put boots on the ground in a civil war, which has many sides, all of them nasty and few potential allies?
When you say you want us to intervene what kind of intervention do you have in mind and who, do you think, should carry it out? What precisely is a limited military intervention, as suggested by Senator McCain?
What sort of timetable do you have in mind? Weeks? Months? Years? A long occupation with no foreseeable end and if so, who would be doing it?
What would be the agreed aim of the intervention? Simply no more pictures of dead bodies? How can we ensure that? Regime change? I have no problems with that in principle (think Germany, Japan and Italy in 1945) but what sort of regime should we install and how long will it survive?
Do we have any identifiable allies?
And last but very much not least: what is the exit strategy?