Let's have a foreign policy topic for a change.
A part of the West's foreign political repertoire in the post-Cold War world has been a true oddity: 'We' don't permit the final defeat of our clients / proxies / our enemy's enemies.
This became visible in Bosnia where we simply didn't allow (para)militarily clearly lost enclaves to collapse (until 'we' did, and felt remorse).
Similar in the Syrian civil war; the disliked (by us) government may actually finally succeed after building enough loyal (para)military strength? No way - arm the rebels quickly (under the ridiculous pretence that it's all about chemical weapons)!
The civil war in Libya was even more extreme: The West did supposedly not attack the regime, but it made sure that the regime failed to crush centres of resistance by bombing the regime's heavy weapons such as tanks, artillery.
A bit more of the same could have looked like the air support for the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan '01, with a similarly quick collapse of the government. Instead, for most of the intervention the emphasis was on keeping the rebels from losing.
Now what exactly could be the excuse? With the superior forces' victory prevented, the only options are
(1) loooong conflict (hardly justifiable)
(2) peace or truce by negotiations (unlikely or very late in all examples)
(3) inferior forces' victory after a long time
Now how is this an effective fig leaf and how does this look better than attacking the superior forces or government of a sovereign country during a civil war?
I suppose this is a fine-tuned hypocrisy, meant to pass the smell tests of public opinion and United Nations. In the end, it's still taking sides and meddling in a foreign conflict.
The Bosnian enclaves, Libyan rebels and also Syrian rebels were and are probably the less evil side of their respective conflicts, but the pattern if not habit of the West does not pass my smell test.
This is hardly what we want to be standard, right? Or would you want China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Saudi-Arabia intervene like this, keeping their favoured side from losing a civil war?
Well, the answer is predictable, for Pakistan actually does it and it's not exactly a popular move of theirs as far as Westerners are concerned.
I want to have this sorted out. We need a better way of handling foreign civil wars if we cannot resist the urge to meddle in other people's affairs.
The United Nations habit of calling for a ceasefire was no superior habit either. This approach merely prolonged conflicts and provoked that the temporarily superior side attempts to 'achieve' as much as possible before their foreign backers get too much embarrassed by the lack of a ceasefire.
An all-or-nothing approach would be nice. The UN should enforce a ban of foreign meddling in civil wars, and meanwhile keep an eye on any civil war to expose violations of a ode of conduct. The government of the country in question could then be expulsed and all foreign intervention become legal. The effect might be a moderation of the ways of conducting the typically very dirty civil wars.
Too bad; not going to happen. The great powers with UNSC veto right would not allow such a limitation on their own adventurism.
Still, this extremely hypocritical 'we are no aggressors, but we don't allow you to win' approach should be replaced. I'm sure it's not going to look well in history
books files, but that's the smallest concern. We may actually cause the death of ten thousands by prolonging civil wars and allowing the accumulation of hatred and mercenaries.