As Syria’s civil war grinds on, the urge to “do something” grows. But sometimes the best thing is to do no harm.
One (remote) possibility is direct intervention. A more likely course of action is sending arms to the opposition.
Direct intervention would be a major blunder. In Iraq and Libya ousting the secular authoritarian regimes soon led to bloodshed, disorder, Islamism, and clannism. Something similar would be likely in Syria.
Arming the opposition is not much better. Putting weapons in the hands of Sunni supremacists and Islamist fundamentalists is not obviously a stroke of genius.
Plus, Western publics are unenthused about it. In March 2013, Pew Research polled people in France, UK, USA, and Germany and found majorities in each against arming the rebels.
Prudently, public opinion is not seized of the urge to do something.
(Source: BBC News.)