Battle of the Golan Heights, 1967 (Map Source: Wikipedia)
Uri Bar-Yosef is concerned about the lack of interest in negotiations with the Syrians. He argues that Israel is once again underestimating the enemy's willingness to go to war. From 1962 to 1967, Israel's political and military leaders believed that Egypt did not have a military option against Israel because of Nasser's embroilment in the war in Yemen. Hence, Israel persisted in escalating the conflict with Syria. According to Bar-Yosef, it was the domestic pressure inside Egypt, which eventually forced Nasser's hand and compelled him to move his army into Sinai. The lesson for today: pushing Assad into a corner could lead to a Syrian attack on Israel, which would be painful, even if unsuccessful.
Bar-Yosef seems to be arguing for the primacy of domestic politics in understanding the likelihood of a Syrian decision to go to war. This frame of reference, in his view, increases the possibility of Assad turning to a military option. On the other hand, if we were to see foreign policy and such measures as national interest and security as the primary factors, it would seem rather obvious that it is not in Syria's interest to attack Israel.
In the late 1960s and 1970s, West German historians such as Fritz Fischer, in his second work, War of Illusions (1969), and Hans-Ulrich Wehler in his German Empire (1972), suggested that the empire's ruling elite saw the war as a domestic stabilizing factor that would function to safeguard its power from the challenges of democratization. This thesis has since been heavily revised, but few historians today would argue for the absolute supremacy of foreign policy considerations in the decision to go to war.
Does Assad need a war (or peace agreement, for that matter) to stay in power? What would the cost-benefit ratio of such a decision be?