In a bold bid to force President Obama’s hand on Syria, Senator John McCain made a surprise trip to Syria early this month. He met with rebel leaders, assessed the situation as grim, and returned home with a reinvigorated call for military intervention by the United States — at least to the extent of creating a no-fly zone and safe zones for rebels and refugees. French and British leaders, meanwhile, seemed in sync with McCain, announcing intentions to begin supplying arms to some rebel groups. Calls for US intervention are gaining urgency, precisely because the tyrant Bashar Assad’s prospects have brightened recently.
The Syrian government was bolstered with support from Hezbollah fighters in from Lebanon and from crack units in from Iran. Then came news of significant increases in Russian military aid, especially antiaircraft missiles and warplanes. Secretary of State John Kerry sought to initiate peace talks between rebels and the Syrian government, but those hopes have fizzled. “Bashar Assad now has the upper hand, and it’s tragic,” McCain said, “while we sit by and watch.”