Syria has become a proxy war between the US and Russia. At stake is the role America wants to play in the world — and the role that Russia can play in the world.
It has been a year since Putin began his intervention in Syria — on the pretext that he intended to fight Islamic State. For a year, the Americans and Russians tried to convince themselves that they shared common interests in Syria and could agree to fight terrorism together. But in reality, Russia is playing a role similar to the one it adopted in Ukraine: It is providing massive amounts of military support to one side, thus becoming a de facto party to the war, while posing on the international stage as a mediator and part of a possible diplomatic solution.
For the first time in a long time, officials in the US government are once again considering military intervention in Syria and bombing Assad’s military. Former General David Petraeus said that it would be “very, very straightforward” to destroy Assad’s air force using cruise missiles and other weapons launched from a distance.
Is it time for the US to finally take action? How dangerous would an American intervention be in Russia’s backyard? Could Syria trigger a global conflagration?