Article by Charles Glass.
This is not a good time to be running the Middle East desk at the State Department. If you happen to be him or her, take my advice: Do nothing. Especially in Syria. Let all the think tanks and lobbyists submit their recommendations. Ask the CIA for the usual analysis. Tell the Israelis, which you would anyway, that you’ll put their suggestions at the top of the pile. Stack that pile high, then burn it. If you stick your hand into this particular tar baby, you will never get out.
Think back to when this mess began, which was a long time before young Mohamed Bouazizi burned himself to death in Tunisia. It was about the time the British and the French decided to save the Arabs from the Ottoman Empire’s oppression. They convinced a few Arabs, who would have remained loyal to their sultan if they had not lost out in one power struggle or another, to overthrow their oppressor. This was only a couple of generations after Britain and France protected the Turks’ empire from encroachment by that other evil empire—the Russian one—in the Crimea. By 1917, when the Turk was looking vulnerable, the time came to rescue his subjects from harsh treatment that the Anglo-French entente had not noticed for a couple of centuries. Soon after the Turks were driven out, the Iraqis were fighting for their lives against the British and the Syrians risked their all to expel the French. Both failed until the Second World War made the maintenance of Levantine and Mesopotamian protectorates too expensive.