As the Obama administration debates belatedly arming the Syrian opposition, military analysts are arriving at an uncomfortable conclusion: the U.S. can't hand the rebels guns or rockets and expect them to topple dictator Bashar Assad. In fact, it may never happen.
Yes, the U.S. can provide lots of hardware, from shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles to communications systems to armored vehicles. That military gear can prolong the conflict, preventing dictator Bashar Assad from crushing the rebels. It is unlikely to tip the balance of the war toward the rebels so they can decisively overthrow Assad.
Obama is considering a range of weaponry to the rebels, as described in the Washington Post, including surface-to-air missiles. The idea would be to ship them the weapons, bolster their war effort, and watch them topple the blood-soaked dictator — without a deeper U.S. military commitment.