Walter Russell Mead has a helpful blog post about Iraq and Syria. We are mostly ignoring the Middle East these days as a nation; the exception seems to be the occasional call for humanitarian intervention in Syria. And, of course, a few worry about Iran's nuclear ambition and the U.S .relationship with Israel.
The most immediate problem is that neither the Assad family nor the opposition in Syria are "good guys," and the Sunni powers in the region are angling to topple both the Assad regime and the Shiite dominated Iraqi government for their own purposes. Those who long for humanitarian intervention in Syria or harsh measures against Iran are ignoring some very pressing problems.
Even if the United States had clear principles or ends -- and was pursuing those ends by sound diplomatic and military means -- the region would still present intractable problems. Of course, we don't even have clear principles or a thoughtful conception of the means needed to attain our nebulous ends.