Revolutions cannot be manufactured they can only be assisted. The Syrian revolution needed assistance in 2011 but none came from the global community and many of the leaders of the Syrian democratic side were either imprisoned, killed, or fled. By the time the Obama administration tried any strategy it was too little too late.
The Assad regime did receive assistance from Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia.
Power does not disappear it just reappears in another form.
No longer is the United States invading the Middle East to knock down dictators but now a power like Russia is invading the Middle East to prop up dictators.
That is the reason why all the players in the area including Israel and Saudi Arabia are now having to speak with Russia.
President Obama has been consistent on Syria. Even when I was in the administration, the president made clear that he did not want to get dragged into the conflict there. The legacy of Iraq weighed heavily on him. He was elected to get us out of Middle East wars, not into them. He was not going to get involved in “someone else’s civil war.”
But what if that civil war produced a humanitarian catastrophe? What if it created a massive refugee crisis? What if it threatened to destabilize neighboring states? What if it gave rise to a group like the Islamic State? These questions were not considered because the fear of being dragged into a quagmire was so great. The costs of action always determined the administration’s approach, not the costs of inaction.