Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Why Western Intervention in Syria is a Farce

As I write this it appears that the US, UK, and France, with the support of the Turkish government and the Arab League, are finalizing plans to strike at the Baathist government in Syria in what they claim is retaliation for that government using chemical weapons, which is prohibited under a Geneva Accord reached in 1925. of course, this action will be taken prior to any findings by the UN inspectors in Syria currently, and without UN Security Council approval, so the overall legality of the action is questionable at best under the existing international legal regime.

As the title implies, I am not a fan of what is coming, because I believe that it is being done for the wrong reasons, and without an honest assessment of what is happening in Syria. The picture painted in the Western press is that what is happening in Syria is a popular revolt horribly suppressed by the government. This is correct, as far as the evidence shows. The Western media goes on to claim that it is only because of Iranians, Russian, and Hezbullah support that the regime is still around and these terrible actors are stopping the Syrian people from being free. That is nonsense. It is correct that those allies of the Assad regime have provided it with invaluable support, but it would also be accurate to state that without the monetary and logistical support of the Gulf States and Turkey and foreign Islamist the rebellion would have been defeated by the much better armed regime already. The rebellion against Assad is popular, but not universally supported. Significant sections of the Syrian population do not trust the rebels or their aims, and are fighting to retain the brutal Assad regime in what they see as a move towards communal survival. This is why what we have is a brutal civil war.

From the start it has been clear, due to the statements of Western powers, that the West wanted Assad gone, because he is an ally of Iran. Our desire to see his criminal regime gone is based solely on his relative stance vis a vi the West. The failure to castigate the current military regime in Egypt after  killing hundreds shows that just simply brutally suppressing political opponents is not what we use as a criteria for criticism. The West has been disingenuous then about wanting peace in Syria - peace is a secondary aim, coming after regime change. Unfortunately, the indigenous rebels have proven themselves incapable of coming together and forming a possible government in waiting, and have allowed foreign Al Qaeda Islamist to become the most effective units against the regime. This has helped the Assad government win support amongst the Western electorates, if not amongst the leaders. I say this because the voters in the West have come not to trust the rebels and generally do not support taking the steps necessary to carry out regime change and bring a rebel victory via Western arms. This has hampered the ability of Western government (assuming the desire is there) to openly support the rebels.

So what about this coming intervention? We are left with the West claiming that it is acting to preserve international norms and sending the message that using chemical weapons is unacceptable, all while acting against the existing international legal system and without waiting for parties seen as impartial making evidenciary rulings.It must act as a vigilante, we are told, because otherwise other people might use these terrible weapons. That we learned today that the US and the West stood by and actively helped Iraq gas the Iranians isn't really helping the message. In the end, this strike in Syria is about preserving a "credibility" the West doesn't have to begin with. The attacks won't be enough to end the civil war, because the Western governments know they lack the support to undertake such actions, but they will make a peaceful resolution harder in the short term by giving all sides less reasons to agree to join peace talks. The truth is that it might be too late for Syria, and the country might need to be partitioned, but we aren't at that stage yet, and I fear lots more people will have to die before  we get there.

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