One of the ways you can surmise the reasons for any particular policy is to examine the predictable consequences of that policy. This is generally how it works, policymakers are not as haphazard or as rash as we may sometimes think. And no, you don’t generally get any useful insights into the reasons for policy by listening to the publicly stated rationales. That’s just the sales pitch.
So you need to do what the policymakers themselves do…be they government or corporate planners…namely analyze the likely outcomes. The extent of strategic evaluations and contingency planning that go on among the ruling elite is staggering. It is just unbelievably detailed and comprehensive. You can’t possibly read it all. My point is, these decisions are not made without a massive amount of forethought and coordination. So if you want to know why a policy is being followed, the answer, more often than not, is in what realities are being created on the ground by that policy, and in what the predictable ramifications will be of those realities.
OK, of course, one way to help predict likely outcomes is to look at the outcomes of similar examples from the past. In the case of Syria, tragically, we have more than one. Iraq is an obvious example, to some extent Afghanistan is too, and even Libya has relevant similarities as well.
We can also look at the outcomes of similar on-the-ground realities that may have had different causes. By this I mean, for instance, the outcomes of massive disasters; obliteration of infrastructure, crop devastation, destruction of industrial capacity, and so on. Again, sadly, the examples are numerous, and recent….