Some strategic games are too complex to be readily modeled, and when we see such games in the real world that’s exactly when we should be the most worried. That’s my immediate reaction to the situation in Syria and environs.
Consider the distinct yet interrelated clashes going on. Not only did the U.S. strike early Saturday at Syria’s chemical weapons facilities after the regime used such weapons against its citizens in Douma. Tensions between Israel and Iran have been escalating. It seems that Israel recently bombed Syria to limit that country’s support of Iran-backed Hezbollah and to send a signal to Iran. There has also been talk that Hezbollah concentrations in Lebanon will lead to another conflict there. The situation in Gaza has heated up again, with Israeli fire against Palestinian demonstrators leading to significant casualties. As a sideshow to these struggles, U.S. President Donald Trump declined to certify that Iran was in compliance with its nuclear accord and may ditch the deal altogether. In Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu’s government faces significant corruption charges.