As the violence worsens in Syria, there are no great options for how to respond. The various Syrian factions and sectarian groups are far too intermingled for a Libya-like operation to work. Assad and his army are still too strong for a simple and small peacekeeping mission to succeed. And if we did invade, the specter of an Iraq-style imbroglio would loom, given Syria’s size and the multitude of nefarious actors there. It’s important, though, to think through the available military options.
Was the NATO air campaign against Serbia just a onetime thing, or can the United States and other like-minded countries really stop genocidal wars around the world? Although this war is ending, we might face the question again soon. In recent years, the world has witnessed the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the 1992-1995 Bosnian civil war, and the 1992-1993 war-induced famine in Somalia. Even today, wars that have taken many more lives than the conflict over Kosovo remain unresolved in places such as Angola and Sudan. We certainly cannot settle every conflict in the world.