After it's taken and given to the rebels then what? Will it be defended militarily against the Rubbian-backed Syrian army?
If the group of allied “moderate” rebels defeated ISIS and occupied Raqqa, they would be an island within a sea of civil war. They would still be the enemies of the Syrian regime and would again be targeted by Damascus and its allies. Would the United States then set up a no-fly zone and use lethal power to defend the rebels in the city from Syria and its allies? Doing so might put the United States in military opposition to Russian and Iranian military personnel, and require the UN.
Would the United States be willing risk a major war by attacking and destroying Syrian ground troops, Russian attack jets and Iranian ground forces in defense of a group of Islamic rebels whose governing inclinations are unknown? If American military personnel destroy or kill Syrian, Iranian, or Russian troops, it is certain these nations would respond in some way antithetical to U.S. interests.
Have U.S. officials considered these near-certain responses to our attempt to aid Syria’s civil war opponents? The objective of American foreign policy has to result in outcomes beneficial to U.S. interests. Attempting to wrest control of a major city, in a hostile foreign land enmeshed in a years-long civil war, has—literally—no chance of producing positive outcomes for our country. It could, however, result in deadly consequences.
Without doubt the most dangerous outcome for the United States would be if, in defense of rebels in Raqqa, a U.S. missile shoots down a Russian plane, kills Russian ground troops—or if a Russian antiaircraft missile shoots down and kills American pilots.
How each government would respond to its military personnel being killed by the other is unknown, but the reaction could spiral out of control. The result could degenerate to the point of a nuclear exchange; that such a possibility can’t be ruled out is terrifying.
Why would any responsible leader in the United States even consider taking action that has almost no chance of accomplishing a positive outcome for U.S. interests, yet does have enormous negative possibilities? I can categorically state there is nothing in Syria that is worth the strategic risk of spawning a major war with the world’s largest nuclear superpower.
It is long past time American policymakers accept the fact that military power cannot solve every international problem, however hard some might wish it were so. Moreover, U.S. leaders must stop pressing for objectives of dubious tactical value at the risk of strategic loss. Washington ignores these warnings to its peril. Unfortunately, the 330 million citizens of this country will be the ones who ultimately pay the price if things go bad.
Source: The National Interest