Life is all too frequently the art of choosing among available alternatives, none of which is particularly appealing. In Syria the alternatives are the present secular Alawite government, Al Qaeda, and DAESH. Among these unpalatable alternatives the present government is the least bad alternative as outlined in this Boston Globe op-ed:
In this war, the United States has only enemies. We oppose every major force involved on the battlefield: Assad’s government, ISIS, the Nusra Front, Shi’ite militias, Iran and Russia. Although we cry for peace, we have no plan to achieve it. That is because winning in Syria means aligning ourselves with one vicious gang or another. Facing this reality is difficult but necessary. Today we have no strategic goal in Syria — and countries that have no strategic goals can never achieve them.
Any military action by us in Syria is illegal, immoral, and antithetical to U. S. interests. Why is the president deepening our involvement there?
The president could start alleviating some of these shortcomings. He could seek Security Council authorization for the use of force in Syria, something he’s unlikely to receive because of Russia’s involvement in the conflict on behalf of the Assad government, a legal act of the Russian’s part because they are operating at the invitation of the internationally recognized government of Syria. He could seek a declaration of war from Congress, something he’s unlikely to receive from the Republican majorities in both houses of Congress let alone from his own caucus.
Neither of those actions would alleviate the most basic problem with greater involvement in Syria: it’s not in our interest. U. S. involvement there is an instance of Talleyrand’s wisecrack: it’s worse than a crime, it’s a mistake.