Thursday, May 02, 2013

The West Shouldn't Intervene In Syria

Steve Chapman here argues against intervening in Syria. Actually, the case against intervention can most easily be summarized by the fact that intervention means intervening for one group against another. So which side should we intervene for?

Should it be the Sunni Islamist rebels or should it be the Shia Islamist allied Assad regime? Either way, we'll support Islamists and we really have no interest in intervening in a sectarian conflict of different Islamists. This is not a war pitting bad guys against good guys, this is a war between two groups of bad guys.

The consensus in the West seems to be to support the rebels, but I don't see any reason to prefer Sunni Islamists over their Shi'ite rivals. Does 9/11 ring a bell?

Those who favor supporting the rebels on "humanitarian" grounds should remember that when governments like Assad's are overthrown in the Middle East it tends to lead to sectarian violence and persecution. In Iraq, 10 years after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, they still have suicide bombings killing tens of people on a n almost daily basis (it is so common that it is no longer considered newsworthy in Western media) and hundreds of thousands of Christians have felt compelled to flee from Islamist terror and persecution.

Things would end up at least as bad in Syria if Western intervention brings down Assad. Alawites would likely be massacred and persecuted on a widespread scale  because Assad is an Alawite and Christians would likely be terrorized and persecuted at least as much as they have been in Iraq the latest decade.

Yes, Assad is a bad guy, but no more so than the rebels. Supporting the rebels in any way, even by only supplying them with weapons is therefore a terrible idea. Unfortunately, the American, British and French governments still seems committed to doing so, and doing so even more than they have so far, undeterred by the disasters created by their previous interventions, and the simple facts stateb above that makes it obvious unlikely that it will be less disastrous this time.

The one form of intervention that could be justified would be to take action to prevent chemical weapons from falling in to al-Qaida or Hezbollah hands, but as Chapman notes in his columns there are great practical difficulties associated with that.


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