Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Case Against Invading Syria

With the UK and the United States arguing that it's time to take action against Syria, it seems a good time to consider the consequences of such involvement from the NATO powers.

On general principles, I do not believe that there is a particularly strong case for any of the NATO countries to inject themselves into the situation in Syria.

At the core of the argument for American involvement is the moral claim that Syria's government is attacking its citizens.  This is not particularly surprising as a claim, and superficially seems like a fair argument for some kind of direct response.

However, we need to think carefully before responding directly to the situation in Syria.  The fact is that western powers have a terrible record in the region.  The American stance towards Israel (and unfortunately, Canada's stance as well) calls into question the motivations of any intervention.

Frankly, even if the UN were to pass a resolution to intervene in Syria, I would still be cautious about a direct intervention dominated by American or British forces.  It would be

The issue is that the situation in Syria itself is not necessarily as black-and-white as it is being portrayed.  Seldom are civil wars as simple as the masses rising up against a corrupt government.  After a year, we know precious little about who the factions are in Syria.

The apparent lack of interest on the part of the Arab League is troubling.  Frankly, without some "skin in the game" from the Arab League, I don't believe that any action on the part of the United States is going to be seen as having any legitimacy by Syrians or others who live in the region.

Further, I do think that the portrayal of what is going on in Syria in the western media needs to be seen somewhat skeptically.  There are too few aspects of the story being reported, and all of them seem to be presented from the perspective of painting the Assad government as a bunch of evil sods, and the rebels as some kind of heroic freedom fighters.  While there was little doubt in the Libya situation that Gaddafi was no longer capable of holding power and acting rationally, things seem quite different where Assad is concerned.

Where western powers being involved is concerned, it is my opinion that unless the members of the Arab League are willing to lead an intervention in Syria directly, that the western powers should stay out.  Not only do the western powers lack credibility in the region, but after the disaster of Iraq, I think the public has good reason to be skeptical of not just the claims being made to justify attacking Syria, but I suspect that there are enough things that we are not being told to call into question the validity of involvement based on the facts thus far presented.

I am not arguing that Assad, or any of the other belligerents in the Syrian civil war, is any kind of angel.  I'm sure that they all have blood on their hands.  Rather, unless there is a desire on the part of Assad's peers in the region to intervene, that powers from outside the region have no moral authority on which an intervention could be justified.

[Update]
It appears that the British Parliament has voted against attacking Syria.  Good start.  I'm glad to see that the UK's Parliament is still functioning.
[/Update]

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