Despite my best efforts to block out what is happening in Syria, the situation cries out for a response. And I just don’t see an answer. Oh, that I could emphatically say we should intervene militarily or absolutely we should not. But I can’t. Every scenario I can envision ends with devastation and years of enmity and continued conflict.

In scenario one, things just keep going the way they are. No one intervenes and the combatants continue down this path of mutual destruction. Finally, either the ‘opposition’ wins and new fighting begins between the factions who have vastly different views of what the ‘new’ Syria would be. Or, Bashar al-Assad manages to hold on and the subsequent political, social and religious repression guarantees continued suffering and almost inevitably a new civil war in the future.

Ok, so maybe the U.S. (and/or her European allies) step up to the plate. They provide material, air support and eventually even troops. Once the commitment is made, I doubt that al-Assad could survive. But now with the U.S. and/or other countries will be vested in who ends up running the country. And attempts to facilitate that outcome have proven singularly unproductive (see: Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.)

Well, what about intervention by a more ‘international’ coalition that includes neighbors and interested states around the world? In a perfect world, that might have a chance of isolating whatever support Bashar al-Assad has and ending the current conflict most quickly. And if (a major IF) all coalition members then stuck to an agreement to back off once the fighting stops and an international peace keeping force could be put in place until such time as the local factions hammered out a power sharing arrangement, there might be hope for Syrians to begin to rebuild. But this isn’t a perfect world.

So, what happens in the end? Whoever wins celebrates a Pyrrhic victory and takes control of a country that is physically, economically, politically and socially all but dead. Religious and ethnic differences will have hardened into intractable enmities. Refugees will continue to pour into neighboring countries, causing economic and political destabilization to spread.

Syria has survived millennia and will probably survive this disaster too. The crumbled pieces of Bashar al-Assad’s empire will be added to those of the Romans, the Crusaders, the French and all the others Syria has seen come and go. But as in many other things, modern man will make this destruction more efficient and complete and more of Syria’s past is likely to disappear along with its future.

So what do I think should happen? I’m afraid that right now my best option is to hope for some divine or extraterrestrial intervention. Because the Syria and the Syrians I fell in love with when I visited just three years ago deserve so much more than to be drowned in a sea of blood.