Michael D. Weiss: “In a few hours, Israel destroyed half of Assad’s air defense systems. If the total operation had lasted the length of, say, Godfather Parts I and II, Assad’s regime would now be completely exposed and vulnerable to aerial assault, and totally reliant on Russian air power to protect it.
What does this tell us?
Chiefly, that what we have heard over the last seven years about the difficulties of creating no-fly zones in Syria was bollocks: even a country whose air defenses were estimated to be orders of magnitude higher than those of Gaddafi in Libya could, on its best day, down a single F-16 that was piloted badly before losing 50% of its deterrent capability.
Secondly (and this one’s a real corker) that Russia is only willing to go so far to protect its chinless and feckless client in Damascus. What was Putin’s response to the IAF raid? An Obama-like call for “de-escalation.” And no doubt the Israelis notified the Russians through their own “de-confliction line” what was about to happen and Moscow simply shrugged.
It has been exceedingly frustrating arguing about Syria for so long, not because there have been principled and passionate people on the other side of the debate who make excellent points that make you question your own appraisal, but because there has been so much bad faith on the other side, from those who have tendentiously maintained that the US had no “good options” from day one because a) they were ideologically opposed to even minimal intervention, b) they were too wedded to reconciliation with Iran and they lied about America’s prospects in service of that objective.
A regional ally that has no real imperative to intervene in the Syria mess save to protect its own national and security interests just made a joke of the best and the brightest minds in Washington. This should not go unnoticed.”