Doran and Boot are, like their fellow neoconservatives, unable to resist the temptation to play strategist and field commander. Their plan would have the US and Turkey combine to create a corridor for humanitarian aid and military materiel from Aleppo (which they mistakenly identify as Syria's second largest city; it's the most populous) to the nearby Turkish border. Following the liberation of Aleppo, the US should cooperate with Jordan to open a second corridor between Damascus and Dara'a to "serve as the southern base of the insurgency."
Successful corridor construction, Doran and Boot tell us, depends on the creation of a "countrywide no-fly-zone." Assad's air force must be grounded, and his air defenses suppressed. This would happen "quickly" and with "little risk," but only if the US led the effort, just like in Libya. They'd leave maintenance of the no-fly-zone to US partners. Neoconservative enthusiasm for intervention, perhaps somewhat dimmed by years of death, destruction, and failure in Afghanistan and Iraq, was reinvigorated by the fall of Gaddafi. The authors have probably already ordered the printing of the "Mission Accomplished" banner.
As annoying if not as reckless as the substantive weakness of Doran and Boot's piece is its sneering tone. They move from faint praise for the "Obama Doctrine" at the outset of their essay to the sarcastic endorsement of "a "lead from behind' approach . . . in Syria." "Lead from behind" was the favorite phrase used by Condoleeza Rice and others at the Republican National Convention to characterize Obama's foreign policy. Since 2002 or so, it's been increasingly difficult to know how seriously to take neocon arguments. Do they actually believe them themselves? It never ceases to surprise that the neocons retain any authority whatsoever, let alone appear on the op-ed page of the New York Times. Neoconservatives were dead wrong about Iraq. They are genuinely dangerous on Iran. They must not be heeded on Syria.