Louis Kriesberg, a retired professor of social conflict at Syracuse University, wrote that economic sanctions "can widen the conflict, add to its destructiveness and sometimes prolong it."
Those arguments were reinforced by the experience of Syria's neighbor Iraq.
The Security Council imposed nearly total financial and trade sanctions on Iraq after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in August 2000. After U.S.-led forces drove the Iraqis from Kuwait, the council reinforced the sanctions, linking them to Iraqi guarantees that they no longer held banned weapons of mass destruction.
Yet those sanctions remained in force for more than a dozen years as the government resisted U.N. efforts to verify that the banned weapons programs had been dismantled.
In the meantime, Saddam's cronies made fortunes smuggling oil and other commodities, while ordinary Iraqis suffered the effects of sanctions.
For years, visitors to Baghdad were shocked at the vast flea markets that sprang up all over the city. Women sold their jewelry, professors offered their personal libraries and retired soldiers hawked their medals — all in a desperate effort to accumulate enough devalued cash to survive.
Some estimates placed the number of Iraqis who died during the sanctions era from lack of medicine or proper nutrition as high as 500,000, although the U.S. and Britain contested those figures.
"The lesson is that some countries cannot be influenced because the decision-makers do not attribute decisive weight to the potential damage done to their country," wrote Peter A.G. van Bergeijk, professor of international economics at the Dutch Institute of Social Studies.
Associated Press writers Zeina Karam in Beirut and Bradley Klapper in Washington and AP researcher Monika Mathur in Washington contributed to this report.