... Seen from the perspective of a quarter-century later, the [the Iraq-Iran war brought] the major benefit of weakening both combatants.
Khomeini enjoyed a vast reach among Muslims at the war's start but lost this power by its end; not a single other country experienced an Iranian-inspired Islamic revolution, and the much-feared domino effect fizzled. Similarly, Saddam Hussein's Iraq never recovered from the terrible costs of its war with Iran; although still powerful enough to conquer defenseless Kuwait in 1990, its forces were no match whatsoever for the American-led troops in 1991 and 2003.
The civil war in Syria has also benefited the West until now:
- It set Sunni extremist against Shiite extremist,
- weakened the governments of Iran and Syria,
- harmed the Hezbollah and Hamas terror organizations,
- caused the malign AKP government of Turkey to stumble badly for the first time in its ten-year reign, and
- created troubles for Moscow in the Middle East.
...we who have the means should help those in need. But [would] a victory by either the Islamist rebels or the Assad government, given their horrific battlefield records, ...signal an improvement in civilian conditions?
I suggest instead that Western powers use their influence to get the battling forces out of the populated areas.
The fighting now underway benefits those of us outside the Middle East. May it weaken both combatants even as our governments take meaningful steps to help civilians caught in the crossfire.