I’ve always found curious the notion that an extended Syrian civil war was somehow a stable situation that, despite the human suffering, could be safely ignored. I think the problems with this approach are becoming increasingly manifest.
The Syrian issue has interjected itself uncomfortable into Russia-Western relations. And now, of course, we have a genuine crisis with the Syrian shoot down of a Turkish jet.
Opponents of intervention have been very good at noting all the potential complications arising from outside intervention. But interestingly I have not noticed any of them acknowledging how a drawn out conflict might negatively affect broader international dynamics or potentially provoke a regional conflict, both issues which have been prominent of late.
Opponents of intervention have consistently sought to reduce the issue to its humanitarian component, but clearly an on-going conflict is tremendously risky in itself. There is an underlying assumption that action requires a more powerful rationale than inaction. But in reality, both action and inaction are choices, and we need to be a little more cognizant of that.
Standing aside while Syria spins out of control is no sounder than rushing into an intervention that causes more problems than it solves. There needs to be a balance in assessing the choices, and I think clearly the pendulum has swung too forcefully in terms of aversion to action.