To find peace in Syria, cooperation among outside powers will be an essential first step. But before going forward, the great powers should soberly assess prospects for an enduring peace accord, as well as the resources required.
A bright flash and catastrophic event suggest an explosion, but do not necessarily exclude the possibility of a mechanical failure. This would not, in fact, be the first time evidence pointed to a terrorist attack when none existed.
How should the United States respond to Russia's intervention in Syria's civil war? Here are five options intended to encourage rational thinking based upon realistic presumptions, not media or campaign-driven hype.
The United States is underinvesting in defense and other instruments of national influence just when they are most needed. Improving defenses needn't require Cold War levels of expenditure but Americans should look realistically at the demands being placed on their forces and generate the revenues to meet those demands.
Some are advocating a no-fly zone in Syria to protect civilians from both ISIS and forces loyal to Assad. What constraints complicate establishing a no-fly zone and realizing its expected benefits? And how might Assad supporters, such as Russia, respond?
The conflicts in Syria and Iraq have generated the greatest volume of refugees since World War II. If the international community is to avoid seeing the emergence of a population of new Palestinians lasting decades into the future, it will have to craft a more coherent approach.
Russia wants to be sure that it's not ignored if and when the West succeeds in implementing a broader, more effective solution to the Syria-Iraq-ISIL problem. This is a task far beyond Russia's capabilities, but one that America, the West, and regional powers may be able to accomplish.