As he always does, Max Boot takes the argument for intervention in Syria to its inevitably deranged conclusion:

The only way to rescue Syria from its nightmare is to overthrow Assad and install a government capable of keeping order and winning the assent of the country’s various constituent parts.

To understand why this is an insane position, it is necessary to be very clear about what this would involve and what would very likely happen afterwards. First, it would require a major military campaign involving ground forces to defeat the regime’s army and take control of the parts of the country under regime control. That would cause the deaths of even more Syrian civilians and contribute to the further devastation of the entire country. That would be followed by an occupation of Syria that would require at least a hundred thousand soldiers to be done semi-competently. That occupation would last for a decade or more, and it would also commit the U.S. to propping up some new Syrian government indefinitely because like its Iraqi counterpart it would be incapable of defending itself for a very long time.

Another war for regime change would make all of Syria even more chaotic than it already is, and the presence of Western forces in Syria would predictably become a magnet for jihadist groups and another boost to their recruitment and propaganda. The nightmare would not end for Syrians, and could conceivably grow worse. The U.S. would then continue to fight ongoing insurgencies for as long as our forces were there, and Syria would become a de facto U.S. protectorate for as long as Americans tolerated the extraordinary, unnecessary waste of American resources and lives. Since we already know that our government has neither the wit nor the ability to establish a stable, functioning government in this part of the world following a war for regime change, it is madness to recommend such a policy. Since we definitely know that the public has absolutely no patience for such absurd state-building exercises and no tolerance for the enormous costs that such a war would impose, it is a political non-starter. It is worth drawing attention to this horrible idea only to remind everyone that this is where the demands for “action” and “leadership” predictably and almost inevitably lead.

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