Thinking about this Syria tsurris, I have a question for the readership.
Let me start by saying that IN THIS CASE I see pretty much all the military options available to the U.S. as "bad". I don't see how anything short of a fairly massive effort will have any more than a nuisance effect, while anything short of a successful Turkish invasion and occupation (h/t to Sven in the comment thread over at MilPub!) has IMO a fairly serious risk of Somaliaizing this whole portion of the Levant. This particular case is one where the "First, do no harm" rule pretty much comes into force.
That said, what I'm wondering is whether the whole political drive from within the Obama Administration (aided and abetted, of course, by the usual Republican Warhawk Chorus Starring John McCain!) isn't a 2013 variation of the sort of thing that Great imperial Powers have always done to small states and peoples who irritate them?
At least here for the U.S. the actual "risk" is pretty minimal...there's little likelihood of losing three legions in a forest, or an entire punitive expedition in the Hindu Kush.
So while it's frustrating for U.S. citizens to watch our government do this stuff, I'm not sure how you avoid it unless you're sensible enough to not play the Imperial Game at all, and I can't think of a Great Power in history what hasn't, from the Expedition to Syracuse through Crassus' legions in Parthia to Adowa to Isandlhwana to LZ X-Ray...
I'm not trying to say "oh, well, it just is what it is.." or minimize the additional misery this will do to the already-pretty-damn-miserable country or that irritation with the ridiculous way it seems to being ginned up, but I guess I have wonder; is this another example of U.S. geopolitical/strategic cluelessness (as I think my man seydlitz would suggest)...or just a Great Power's instinct to hammer down any nail it doesn't like to see sticking up? Are Obama and his people making a unique mistake, or are they doing the same thing that Kublai Khan did in Java in 1293, Deng Xiaoping did in Vietnam in 1979, or Woodrow Wilson did in Mexico in 1916?
So my "big picture" question would be "...is there a way for the U.S. in particular to avoid this, or is this sort of thing a feature of being a Great Power, not a bug in this particular Administration or ANY U.S. Administration..?"
Because if the former, well, there would seem to be a way out of this damned rut. But if the latter...
I'm genuinely curious; what do you think?