Washington also should prepare for failure. It is possible that Assad’s fall will be the beginning, not the end, of a long and chaotic period in Syria’s history, with civil war continuing and the conflagration inflaming neighbors. Even with neighboring states such as Turkey capable of intervening, by the time the international community determines how to respond, the honeymoon period may have passed, severely raising the costs of intervention and reducing the likelihood of success.
Part of why the Iraq War went so wrong was that U.S. leaders misunderstood not only Iraq but also U.S. capabilities. To avoid repeating this mistake in a post-Assad Syria, Washington must better anticipate what might go wrong and be more humble about its own capacity to remake Syria.
Daniel Byman is a professor at Georgetown University and the research director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. Renanah Miles is a program analyst in the Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer at the Department of Defense. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.
This article was derived entirely from open-source, unclassified material. The authors are happy to provide extensive original footnotes and a bibliography upon request.
Image: gardaImage: Pullquote: The current antiregime violence could morph into chaos or a new power struggle among the anti-Assad victors.Essay Types: Essay