Small Wars Journal


Gentile: Realities of a Syrian Intervention

Sat, 03/03/2012 - 9:37am

Writing at The National Interest, Gian Gentile warns those who would imagine that there is an easy way to repair the universe in Syria.

The idea that stopping the civil war in Syria and protecting its population can be done on the cheap—via drones policing enclaves and humanitarian corridors—is military dilettantism gone wild.

The epigraph of my book on Iraq contains the following quotes, which we might heed as well.

I have not lived so long without having had the experience of many wars, and I see those among you of the same age as myself, who will not fall into the common misfortune of longing for war from inexperience or from a belief in its advantage and its safety. . . . Let us never be elated by the fatal hope of the war being quickly ended by the devastation of their lands. I fear rather that we may leave it as a legacy to our children.

—Archidamus, Spartan king, 432 BC


Kind-hearted people might of course think there was some ingenious way to disarm or defeat an enemy without too much bloodshed, and might imagine this is the true goal of the art of war. Pleasant as it sounds, it is a fallacy.

—Carl von Clausewitz, Prussian strategist, ca. 1830


The first lesson the student of international politics must learn and never forget  is that the complexities of international affairs make simple solutions and trustworthy prophecies impossible.

—Hans Morgenthau, professor of international relations