The flood of criticism against the inaction of the Obama administration in light of the bloodshed in Syria reminds me of a fascinating conversation I conducted a year ago [Aug. 13, 2012] with retired Canadian Gen. Charles Bouchard, who had ended his term as deputy commander of NATO several months earlier. Bouchard has been lauded for leading Operation Odyssey Dawn in March 2011, which brought about the fall of the Moammar Gadhafi regime in Libya.
I asked the general to assess the possibility that the West would use military force in Syria as well to end the bloody civil war. His answer is worth noting: “The violence in Syria is completely different from that in Libya when NATO headed Operation Odyssey Dawn,” Bouchard said unhesitatingly. He explained that the success in Libya stemmed from NATO's not introducing ground forces, whereas the geography and political instability of Syria mean that a battle in that country could not be fought exclusively by air. On the other hand, the general noted, an aerial strike could result in the loss of many lives and turn the nations of the region against the West.