Thursday, March 07, 2013


West Should Intervene in Syria

The Economist recently offered a gloomy assessment of the Syrian Civil War.  "Syria looks increasingly likely to fall prey to feuding warlords, Islamists and gangs—a new Somalia rotting in the heart of the Levant."
 It goes on to comment:

 "If that happens, millions of lives will be ruined. A fragmented Syria would also feed global jihad and stoke the Middle East’s violent rivalries. Mr Assad’s chemical weapons, still secure for now, would always be at risk of falling into dangerous hands. This catastrophe would make itself felt across the Middle East and beyond. And yet the outside world, including America, is doing almost nothing to help."

With 75000 already killed and Assad still much more powerful than the rebels, something just has to be done by the west. Some of my students this week sadly shook their heads when I asked them if the west should intervene. They cited the cases of such intervention going wrong: Vietnam, of course, Afghanistan and the awful case of Iraq.But what about the times when intervention has worked? The Safe Haven in the 1990s Iraq situation to curb Saddam, Sierra Leone in 1998 and Kosovo around the same time, not to mention he more recent case of Libya. Not all those interventions solved the problems of the nations involved but they did stop the worst of the killings and one feels, this is now what the benighted Syrians are facing.

In his Chicago Speech in 1998, Blair laid down five conditions for humanitarian intervention:
Are we sure of our case? Answer yes, Assad has proved he is capable of anything to save his miserable life and position.

i) Have we exhausted diplomatic options? Yes, clearly, Assad refuses to sit down with the rebels.
ii) Have we the power to help? Sure, we can let them have the arms which will match Assad's forces.
iii) Are we prepared for the long term? After the debacle of Iraq I'm sure Syria would be handled very differently and, like libya, the Syrians would be doing the fighting.
iv) Finally, do we have any national interests involved? Well, tricky one, cos we don't. But we all have an indivisible interest in preventing dictators from slaughtering innocent people,  
I would hate to think Dictators in the present time and in the future could go to bed secure in the knowledge western powers had given up any moral responsibility for preventing evil to be committed by evil people. Obama should sod Russia and China and supply arms to the rebels, so should Hague- he really wants to anyway- and so should other EU countries.  

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