Could Bombing Syria Destroy More People Than It Saves
The good answer is clearly yes, along with two reasons.
The primary is that many bombs will kill people. The United States will do everything it may possibly to attenuate civilian casualties, of course. But Syrian President Bashar al-Assad won't. As James Fearon writes, "rest assured that that Assad regime will be alright what it could actually to create so attacks do kill, or head over to kill, plenty of civilians."
Cosmetic attack we're punishing is assumed to make killed about 1,400 people: It won't take all various ill-targeted explosives to pair with that death toll.
Your second - and possibly larger - worry is that almost all bombs will lead the Syrian government to kill more people. That's the implication these 2012 paper by Reed Wood, Jason Kathman, and Stephen Gent (which I discovered via Erica Chenoweth).
The authors checked out many conflicts from 1989 to 2005 and realized that when outside governments intervene with regards to rebel forces, the federal government's killing of civilians increased by 40 percent. The explanation, basically, is as the federal government fears it's losing outcomes of the conflict, it becomes more desperate many ferocious increasingly more lethal. The authors conclude (italics mine):
Supporting a faction's quest to conquer its adversary may contain the unintended consequence of inciting the adversary to effective violence from population. Thus, establishments with interests in stability should bear in mind the varied for some costly old countering murderous groups. Potential interveners should heed these conclusions when designing intervention strategies and tailor their interventions to incorporate components specifically built to protect civilians from reprisals. Such strategies may show stationing forces within vulnerable population centers, temporarily relocating susceptible populations to safe havens that probably have distant leaving your conflict zone, and supplying sufficient ground forces to be according to such policies. These actions could fulfill broader interests in societal stability in addition to interests in countering a corporation on geopolitical grounds. Successful policies will thus do not limit our service to just counter murderous factions but instead explicitly seek to guard civilian populations.
Those protective interventions are notable as they definitely read like some things the United States is clearly and public saying it won't do. But meaning we're considering intervening in Syria's conflict in a fashion that we all know interested generate a murderous response from the government that we are not enthusiastic about stop.
The United States are actually very clear that this is not a goal to save civilian lives. It'could be a target to enforce international norms regarding the use of chemical weapons. Instead of protecting civilians that ranges from killed, we are wanting to alter Assad's abundance weaponry when he kills them. It's entirely plausible that Assad could heed our message to stop killing civilians with chemical weapons whilst he heeds his incentives to retain effects of the conflict by mounting his slaughter of civilians through more conventional means. That may, on some perverse level, generally is a "success" given the set goal of the policy, but it can be incredibly an awful failure going on a humanitarian level.
After all, as Charli Carpenter has written, this is not a humanitarian intervention, and Secretary of State John F. Kerry has very clearly finished calling it a humanitarian intervention. Available's the awful chance that it should become an anti-humanitarian intervention.