Is there a better way to handle the Syrian calamity? I believe so.
First, neutralize Iran, by which I mean air strikes to destroy its nuclear weapons program and a few other military capabilities. That would remove the Assad regime’s main source of support. It would also make the Turks dispensable: without the Iranian threat, the Turkish army is just a makework program with obsolete weapons. Let the Alawites have their enclave, and let the Sunni Arabs have a rump state, minus the Syrian Kurds, whose autonomy would be an important step towards an eventual Kurdish state. The Turks and the Russians would be the biggest losers.
The USA isn’t likely to do this, which was probably Goldman’s point. It’s possible that the Iranian regime will collapse or that Israel will attack. The near-term odds of the regime falling on its own seem slim. The odds of an Israeli attack are probably increasing as the Israeli Right seems likely to increase its parliamentary majority. But an Israeli attack is far from certain and might not succeed in any event. It therefore seems likely that Syria will continue to fester, that Iran’s imperial ambitions will remain unchecked until there is a regional war, and that nuclear weapons will spread at a faster rate than otherwise. Eventually someone will use a nuke, or two or three, and then what? Richard Fernandez points out that we haven’t been thinking seriously about such things. Maybe it’s time to start. It doesn’t look like containment is going to work this time.