Alternatives to U.S. military intervention existed but were not seriously pursued. One option was a total arms embargo to all the parties when the first violence began breaking out. At that time, the lack of weapons created a large barrier to widespread conflict. That option wasn't pursued. Instead, each side's backers poured weapons into Syria, both directly and indirectly and parties with varied interests (Shia states on one side and Sunni states on the other, along with non-state actors) played a leading role. As a result, each of what became warring parties pursued maximum demands. They increasingly became uncompromising and saw outcomes as mutually exclusive. Assad insisted that the oppostion were terrorists who had no place in Syria's political future. His foes insisted that he and his government had no place in Syria's future. Preconditions were established, diplomacy was suffocated, and the possibility of a political settlement destroyed with both the dictator and his foes partners in that crime. Both parties also engaged in massive brutality and crimes against humanity, only inhibited by the limits of their capabilities.Leaving Syria to burn is a weak and unforgivable move by the West.
I don't support Russia's actions in Crimea. I also don't support the brutality that has occurred in Syria. Syria's civilian population, not any of the warring combatants, are the victims of its sectarian conflict. Both Assad and his foes are the co-authors of Syria's terrible human tragedy. Neither of the warring parties deserves much sympathy.It astounds me that some who would tacitly support gassing the capital cry out against Russia in Ukraine, as if anything of the sort has happened.