So now in Syria there is a great danger that America’s hesitancy to get involved on the rebel side has ceded the momentum to jihadist suicide bombers. They by no means represent the mainstream of Syrian opposition. But they will increasingly gain the upper hand, quite possibly with Saudi and Qatari help, unless the U.S. does more to help the secularists and moderates. And that, in turn, means the Obama administration will have to stop waiting for the blessing of the UN and Moscow before getting more involved. Only greater American-led intervention can end the fighting and stop Syria’s descent into greater barbarism.
If “getting more involved” means covertly aiding the Syrian opposition, all that this will do is ensure that the U.S. is providing direct support to forces that use such tactics*. I’m not sure that it’s possible to argue that the U.S. should become more involved in Syria’s conflict by arming the opposition, of which the Free Syrian Army is one of the leading groups, and then say that the FSA (which claimed responsibility for the bombing in Damascus) doesn’t represent “the mainstream” of the opposition when it uses these tactics. Incidentally, this likely wouldn’t end the fighting anyway.
If “greater American-led intervention” means something more than providing arms and involves an American military presence on the ground, that would mean sending American soldiers to Syria, which all but guarantees that they would become the targets of similar attacks. Instead of there being suicide bombings against regime officials, there would be bombings directed against U.S. targets as well. A large U.S. military presence doesn’t discourage fanatics from using these tactics, but rather encourages them to use them against our soldiers and those working with them. Boot doesn’t specify what he thinks U.S. policy should be, except that there should be more involvement of some kind. Naturally, there is no mention of possible costs to the U.S. or what American interest would be served by greater involvement.
The continuing violence in Syria is a disaster for that country, but nothing has happened that makes the proposed measures for indirect intervention any more effective, and the U.S. still has nothing at stake in Syria’s conflict that would warrant a major military commitment.
* Boot was making his argument on the assumption that the attack was a suicide bombing, which may not have been the case.