It now looks almost certain that we will see a US military strike of some sort in Syria. There is a lot of angst out there about such a strike — what are its goals? What will it accomplish? and, Where will it all end? Many are asking “what the hell is the Obama administration thinking?” Many have already concluded that it will be a disaster.

This is a fair set of questions in the wake of Iraq and Afghanistan. Erica Chenoweth is running a number of articles over at the Monkey Cage on what some of the political science research says when looking at the aggregate data with respect to third party intervention. It suggests that this isn’t going to end well. Maybe. But, there is a broader analysis and context that are also likely influencing President Obama’s decision.

First, not every intervention is the same — time to dust off that copy of Schelling. Continue reading

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