Putin's "bold" incursion is going to make the Syrian war even worse

Over all, the Russian efforts will worsen the violence, inflame terrorism and risk dragging the Russians into a quagmire. The consequences are likely to be bad for Russia, for the United States and, worst of all, for Syria and its neighbors…

This strategy is a mirror image of the equally flawed American plan for Syria. American policy similarly holds that ending the Syrian civil war requires changing the balance of power sufficiently to convince Mr. Assad’s external supporters that his regime has no future and to enter into a negotiation on opposition terms.

And so external supporters on both sides have simply doubled down in an attempt to create their own facts on the ground. But the result is a seesaw effect in which no side will ever keep its position of strength for long or produce its desired negotiation. To the contrary, the likely consequence of Russia’s escalation is that supporters of the Syrian opposition — not just the United States, but even more Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey — are more likely to counterescalate.

Both the United States and the Syrian people would be better off if we simply skipped the next step in Syria and instead looked for a way to break out of the destructive cycle.