Here we go again.
That strange coalition of neocons and liberal interventionists is clamoring once more for a more muscular U.S. approach to Syria. And unsurprisingly, they're searching for culprits in the endless debate of "who lost Syria?"
Don't believe any of it. The time for guilting the United States into expensive and ill-thought-out military interventions has passed. Indeed, the reasons to intervene in Syria -- the hope of defusing a bloody religious and political conflict and dealing the Iranian mullahs a mortal blow -- are just not compelling enough to offset the risks and the unknowns.
The "we need to do more" chorus has intensified in light of the dramatic and tragic events in Aleppo, where the Syrian army once again appears to be laying waste to a great city in the hope of rooting out its opponents. Last week, the Washington Post called yet again for a series of steps -- arming the opposition and contingency planning for no-fly zones -- without any analysis of whether such measures would appreciably affect the situation on the ground, let alone any consideration of what the costs might be if they didn't work.
The death dance for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his regime has been a long, complex affair, and it's likely to go on for a while longer. It might even involve Assad retreating to an Alawite enclave along Syria's northwest coast, where he could hold out against his opponents for some time. In the meantime, the conflict between a murderous regime and an opposition that won't quit -- but can't yet win -- goes on.
The reality is that Syria is in the middle of a complex internal struggle with a divided opposition, regional players with diverse agendas, and competing great powers. There's no single force on the ground -- or constellation of outside powers -- that can impose order. For the United States to enter the fray as a quasi-combatant would make matters more complicated, not less. Sure, U.S. President Barack Obama could take down the Assads by force -- but he would do an enormous amount of damage in the process and end up being forced to rebuild the country. Remember the Pottery Barn rule? That's the last thing America needs.