The Obama administration is at last willing to send weapons to Syrian rebels—but it looks like neither the president, nor anyone else in Washington, is willing to go far enough to actually help, write Michael Weiss and Elizabeth O'Bagy at the Atlantic. "Even the most hawkish interventionists" are resisting calls from the rebels to send MANPADs—man-portable air-defense systems—even though anti-aircraft missiles are "clearly the weapon most needed in order to shift the strategic balance." Assad relies heavily on his air force both to drop bombs and carry supplies.
What's more, the massive amount of Russian and Iranian aid pouring in is almost all coming via the air. But the US is too worried that the MANPADs would fall into the hands of al-Nusra militants. "The image of Osama bin Laden toting Stinger missiles in post-Soviet Afghanistan looms large," they write. The alternative is to intervene directly without entering Syrian airspace—say by firing missiles from planes in Turkey, Jordan, or Lebanon, or by using radar-jamming technology. Anything short of that is a half measure. Click for their full column. (Read more Syria stories.)