Richard Cohen, writing in the Washington Post:
The Obama administration’s fear of blowback in Syria — weapons falling into the hands of jihadists and other bad guys — can be avoided in only one sure way: Throw America’s support behind Bashar al-Assad , the vile dictator the White House wants gone. This contradiction is at the heart of President Obama’s incoherent Syria policy. If Assad loses, it will be the Middle East version of Black Friday, with door-busting sales on all the latest weapons, batteries included. If he wins, the door remains closed.
But we don’t want him to win — and the way it’s looking, he won’t. The Syrian rebelsalready control large parts of the country, and the war has now entered its third year. Trouble is, inaction on the part of the administration — a refusal to arm the rebels or impose a no-fly zone — has allowed what was once a protest movement by some nice professionals to turn into a bloody vendetta without end. More and more, the hard fighting is being done by the very jihadist groups we fear. Syria is an Afghanistan in the making. ...
Blowback is now a given. There is no sure way to avoid it, only to contain it. That can be done only by swiftly arming the moderates and pressing for as quick an end to the war as possible. Obama, as president of the United States, is in a position to save lives and avoid a regional calamity. His dithering has only made matters worse. Give the man an umbrella: He’s becoming a latter-day Neville Chamberlain.