U.S. / British Cruise Missile strikes against Assad seem to be on the horizon. What would result? Assuming no boots on the ground: Assad loses some assets, but not nearly all. His Islamist foes gain a bit by dint of degradations to The Chinless Wonder’s forces. Civil war goes on. Syria is forced to increase it’s already elevated level of naval gazing (fighting its domestic war) instead of aiding proxy organizations elsewhere. There will at least be a decline in such aid.
Overall, though; No significant degradation of Syrian ability to fight the Islamists and other rebels. No significant degradation of Syrian ability to use chemical weapons again. In short: Status quo ante bellum. So, if the US and Brits really have their hearts in this, they would have to do something more. The ‘something more’ will depend on the goal. If it is prevention of future chemical attacks and/or other similar domestic actions, they will continue to lob some missiles each time Syria attacks its civilian population or rebels, and/or each time they have good intel on locations of stores, and good reason to believe there would be little or no collateral damage. If the goal is also to topple The Chinless Wonder – the allies may undertake operations which involve vertically inserting a missile or two into
If all of this does not significantly change the situation in Syria, another step will be taken. This step will be the least costly option that planners reasonably project could bring about success. History allows a best guess as to what that next step would be: After a round of furious U.N. BOGSAT; an inspection regimen and no fly zones. Woohoo!
Net results: A bevy of U.N. Resolutions condemning violations of inspectors and said zones. No major change in the situation. At this point, the allies will balk at escalating to conventional warfare. Politically, it would not fly. So, there will be greater reliance on RPA (“drones”), cyber and other unconventional and unmanned efforts. I doubt that either country would choose to send in Special Forces. They may, however, continue to make attempts to cultivate a mutiny by covert recruitment of key figures in the Syrian military forces. Once this point is reached, no further actions will be taken. End result: Status quo ante bellum, with some degradation of