Adam Garfinkle’s latest article on Syria is typical of interventionist complaints in its mixture of half-baked proposals and sheer hubris:
All of this is, of course, sort of tragic, because strong American leadership, a leadership that understood the strategic stakes involved in Syria and showed itself willing to take commensurate risks to secure them, probably could have prevented all this.
How could the U.S. have “probably” prevented “all this”? Apparently, the U.S. just needed to embrace a far-fetched notion of a U.S.-backed Turkish military incursion that would somehow solve the problem. Garfinkle writes:
I suggested months ago a Turkish-led intervention, backed by the United States and NATO and the Arab League, designed to trigger a coup in Syria against the Assad regime.
Erdogan’s bluster aside, Turkey wants no part of the conflict in Syria. Turkish military intervention has never been a realistic option (which has naturally made it a favorite interventionist option), and it is questionable whether it would be have triggered a coup against Assad if it happened. What is even less clear is how Assad’s overthrow by members of his regime changes anything about the nature of the conflict. If there were a coup, that doesn’t change the incentives of the rest of the regime. They would seek to retain their hold on power, and they would presumably be willing to use the same brutal methods.
If the Turks were willing to launch an invasion of Syria (which is what is being suggested here), it would be the beginning of a protracted military operation in a country where a large part of the population opposes their presence. There aren’t many things that would rally minority communities to the side of the regime more effectively than a Turkish invasion. Foreign invasions also tend to radicalize populations, and they usually provoke armed resistance from the groups that have the most to lose. Further internationalizing the Syrian conflict with outside military intervention wouldn’t remedy any of the problems Garfinkle mentions, and would almost certainly contribute to more regional instability, political radicalization, and the use of terrorist tactics.