Max Boot makes a very good point here with respect to the attack against Assad's inner circle today:
But while the victims–the men who directed the military forces that have killed upwards of 17,000 Syrians since the start of the fighting–undoubtedly deserved their fate, it is hard to take much satisfaction in the manner of their demise. For suicide bombing is never the weapon of the moderate. As a terrorist tactic it was occasionally utilized by the Socialist Revolutionary Combat Organization in early 20th-century Russia but really came into its own with Hezbollah in Lebanon in the 1980s, before being picked up by al-Qaeda and its offshoots. While the willingness of ordinary soldiers to sacrifice their lives to win a battle is universally respected (think of the Spartans at Thermopylae) that is a very different thing from deliberately setting out to kill one’s self and take as many of the enemy with you as possible. Americans were appalled at the kamikaze tactics employed by the Japanese at the end of Word War II and rightly so: fighting in this way bespeaks a fanaticism that does not bode well for the future unless it is rooted out.
And then he makes a not-so-good point here:
So now in Syria there is a great danger that America’s hesitancy to get involved on the rebel side has ceded the momentum to jihadist suicide bombers. They by no means represent the mainstream of Syrian opposition. But they will increasingly gain the upper hand, quite possibly with Saudi and Qatari help, unless the U.S. does more to help the secularists and moderates. And that, in turn, means the Obama administration will have to stop waiting for the blessing of the UN and Moscow before getting more involved. Only greater American-led intervention can end the fighting and stop Syria’s descent into greater barbarism.
Really? Dropping U.S. troops into Syria would accomplish two things: 1. ensure the demise of the Assad regime; 2. ensure the rise of an anti-American insurgency. We saw this in Afghanistan and we saw it in Iraq.
Any intervention of a size sufficient to provide country-wide security in Syria after the Assad regime falls is going to provoke a backlash. The same Sunnis that flooded into Iraq to battle the U.S. occupation would flow into Syria (and many are already there) to battle U.S. forces. The U.S. has no better understanding of Syria than it did of Iraq and even fewer people to tap for a successor regime. The idea that we "ceded momentum" to the jihadis presumes that there was a well-organized but outgunned opposition composed of secular liberals just waiting for the U.S. cavalry. In truth, the opposition remains a mix of forces and naturally the most violent of those are going to come to the fore during an insurgency.
Syria appears poised to fall into disorder, or worse. The injection of U.S. troops would focus the coming whirlwind against American soldiers. Why on Earth would we want that to happen?