Marshall Plans, Not Martial Plans by Chris Murphy, New York Times
The carnage of the Syrian government’s assault on Aleppo, enabled by Russia and Iran, was unbearable to watch. Just as unbearable was the realization that the United States could not save the Syrian people from this horror.
That’s hard to admit, and harder for those in the middle of this humanitarian nightmare to hear. But the lessons of how Syria arrived at this moment of catastrophe, and how America arrived at this moment of helplessness, are clear. And if the United States does not learn from them, we will repeat them.
The first lessons come from our short-term mistakes, which have prolonged the conflict and misery and increased the human toll of the war. Civil wars tend to end by one of three means: One side eventually crushes the other; both sides fight so long that they reach the point of exhaustion; or an outside power steps in with overwhelming influence to force a settlement between the sides.
We most likely watched the first scenario play out when the army of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, together with Iranian militias and Russian forces, stormed Aleppo. Our primary mistake was miscalculating the lengths that Mr. Assad’s allies would go to prop up his rule, while believing our halfhearted measures would be enough to tip the balance.
The United States was never prepared to do enough to topple Mr. Assad. That was clear when concern over getting dragged into the conflict led both Republicans and Democrats to overwhelmingly oppose President Obama’s request for congressional approval of a limited bombing campaign to respond to chemical weapons attacks on rebel-held areas by the Syrian government…