Foreign intervention in Syria a mistake

Conflict should be solved by regional powers

It seems things have deteriorated to a point in the Syrian civil war that chemical weapons have been used against civilians. As with much in the Syrian war, there is some mystery and confusion surrounding the event. Estimated death tolls have ranged from hundreds to over a thousand. John Kerry put the number at 1,429 on Aug 30. No one seems 100 per cent certain who actually used the weapons, though all signs appear to point to the Assad regime, which delayed UN inspections in order to destroy evidence.

Now all eyes are focused on the U.S. and Barack Obama. A year ago, when speaking about the conflict in Syria, Obama said that the “red line” would be the wide-scale use of chemical weapons, and now that has happened. The time has come to make a decision.

Frankly, few really want the U.S. or the West anywhere near this conflict. The American people don’t want it – one poll said that a whopping nine per cent of Americans were interested in intervention; the number has since more than doubled. Many in the Middle East don’t support U.S. intervention, including Assad loyalists in Syria. China, Russia, and Iran are also not in favour of it.

The last century of foreign intervention has done nothing but foster a deep disdain for the West in the Middle East and Northern Africa, from the dividing up of the fallen Ottoman Empire by Western powers to the creation of Israel and military intervention in Libya. Bush’s war in Iraq was the last straw.

Right now, many online are bringing up the WMD lie fiasco that led to Iraq being invaded, and questioning if America’s intelligence on the Syrian chemical attack is legitimate. Some are already using terms like “imperialism” and “neo-colonialism” to describe any move by Western powers to intervene. Obama has been lambasted and he hasn’t even made a military move yet, at least not as I write this.

At home, the U.S. is still slowly recovering from near economic disaster, as well as two extremely costly, long-running, and bloody wars of questionable success. And, after the U.S. got involved in the Arab Spring in Libya, the Americans suffered another blow when the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three of his staff members were killed. There isn’t a large appetite for more of this. Still, any call for international intervention will likely revolve around the U.S.

The plight of the Syrian people is moving, but I also feel that Western intervention should be off the table. I foresee nothing but bad coming from this. For one, although the Assad government is brutal, it’s who might take control in its absence that raises a huge question mark. There appears to be no shortage of groups in Syria fighting for power, from hardcore Islamists to those who want freedom and democracy.

The U.S. should stay far away from Syria, as should Canada. Canada stands to accomplish nothing but making enemies and making itself vulnerable to attacks by a new generation of people disenfranchised by the West meddling in Middle Eastern affairs. There has to be an end to the bloodshed in Syria, and it is tragic that it has been going on for two years already, with estimates of 100,000 dead and millions of people being made refugees. But this is an issue that should be solved within the region by regional powers. It’s time for the West to stop making enemies, even when it’s trying to do the right thing.

2 Comments on "Foreign intervention in Syria a mistake"

  1. A well written and balanced article.

    The Iraq war was a failure and we all know that. I will never forget when the National Museum of Iraq was being looted and Rumsfeld responded “stuff happens…”. A dismissive, disgraceful remark. Not quite as morally repugnant though as seeing images of the “highway of death.” Iraqi soldiers being bombed by the US as they were retreating in the first gulf war. Senseless death and cruelty.

    But where on earth do we draw the line? Thousands of people are being killed in Syria by a ruthless dictator and his enemies. Do we stand by? And yes, granted there is the point that many tens of thousands of people died in Syria before this chemical attack took place. The world barely took notice.

    An important factor here is Iran. Do we let a regime like that get a hold of a nuclear weapons? If we let Syria get away with this, are we not giving Iran a green light to just go ahead and develop a bomb and give it away?

    We have to get away from this old fashioned idea that nations are supreme and inviolable in their sovereignty. They aren’t. Our moral obligation is towards other human beings. Right now, Syrians are suffering. Do we just turn our collective heads and say “not our problem?” Or listen to people like Sarah Palin who said “let Allah sort it out?” A dismissive remark which cruelly ignores the suffering of fellow human beings.

    We don’t know if intervening in Syria will further destabilize the middle east. We don’t know if it will make things worse. But on the balance of probabilities, I believe it will make things better. Will sectarian violence result when you get rid of a dictator? Probably-I don’t know. But giving a green light to mass murder is worse, isn’t it?

  2. Julien Vaughan | September 10, 2013 at 3:33 pm |

    Now it’s not that I disagree with this article or what Tom has said above but there seems to be a lot of factors you and the world press are omitting here.

    First off the United States “moral obligation” always seems to arrive when there are economic and geopolitical gains to be made. The west have been supporting the rebellion since the gecko, I would go as far as to say they are probably largely responsible for it, creating this scenario in the first place. I will try to shed light on why. But first, you can watch this short video and do your own research on if you believe these rebels are good and well intentioned and a better alternative to the current dictatorship.
    Like in ALL wars the knowledge of good vs bad is just plain fallacious. Now one would wonder why would the United States want to get involved in this mess compared to let’s say Soudan or probably a hundred other places around the world I have never heard of were equally horrible things are happening at this very instant.

    It is no secret that Syria is the last remaining foothold of Russia in this region. They have a military base in Tartus and they in turn supply weapons to Bashar Al-Assad forces. Now this isn’t the cold war but fact of the matter is Russia is still a competitor to the United States. Now taking control of Syria would do much more than cripple Russia militarily as I will explain bellow but it would also get rid of a nuisance to Israel. Since the 7 day war, Israel has occupied the Golan Heights creating, let’s call it a difference, between the two nations. So not only does Syria shares a border with the holy land, there is a strong probability that they were and are still currently helping the Hezbollah in one way or another.
    But the most crippling blow to Russia would come from there being another supplier of gas and oil to Europe. Qatar a long standing friend and ally of the United States has plans to build a pipeline that would go through Syria all the way to turkey You only need to look at the list of countries voting for the policies proposed by the U.S at the U.N meeting to get a good sense of what is really going on.
    This would give Europe another supplier other than Russia and thus help it get rid of their dependence to them and avoid conflicts like when Russia literally stop supplying them to exercise some strong arms tactics.

    But wait it does not end here. The united states have effectively sanctioned Iran and thus curbing the quest for the nuclear weapon. If Iran can secure its pipeline first there would be no need for the one from Qatar and you can say good bye to the sanctions.

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