Intervention in Syria

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Many people seem to be condemning President Obama because he’s hesitant about intervening in Syria. There was an op-ed in the local paper by a Syrian woman who now lives in the USA. She wants our country to intervene, and that’s understandable. Bashar al Assad is not a good leader by any standard, and she has friends and family there. I sympathize with her, but still don’t think it’s a good idea.
And to me, that’s the bottom line. As clumsy as Obama may have been, he hasn’t involved us in an Asian war, and I believe he ought to think long and hard before he does.
His predecessor didn’t hesitate, but once we were in two wars he didn’t know how to get us out of them. We lost a lot of respect in the Middle East because of those wars and how we mis-managed them. Do we really need to do that again?
The lady mentioned above said that the rebels were pledged to create a pluralistic society. Pledges, unfortunately, can be broken. There are a lot of hatreds in the Middle East that go back a long way. Can we be so confident that we can heal them? And through war?
A commentator on NPR said that most of the rebels are main-stream Sunnis. Sunnis, he said, don’t care for Alawites (a Muslim sect) anyway, and especially because Assad is one, and so are his closest supporters. They also don’t care much for Christians or Kurds, also large minorities in Syria. So how convinced can we be that whatever regime follows Assad’s will be any better?
Several decades ago Idi Amin got a lot of publicity for the atrocities he committed in Uganda. Eventually he was forced out, and was given asylum, I think in Saudi Arabia. And if I remember correctly, he died there.
What DIDN’T get a lot of publicity (which I happened to learn only much later) was that his successor committed atrocities just as bad. Regime change is no gurantee of improvement.
The criticism of Obama is that he’s appeared to be waffling on the issue. Certainly he could have handled it better, but the alternative presented in the pieces I read is to not only bomb Syrian government troops and supplies, but to send in infantry.
I agree that its in our interest to discourage chemical warfare, but is this the best way to do it? If someone need intervene militarily, need it be the United States? Are we not yet hated enough in the Middle East?
And are there no other alternatives? That’s the other question. Perhaps Putin’s initiative to induce the Syrians to voluntarily give up these weapons isn’t adequate, but it’s not violent either. If someone does want a violent solution, a friend suggested assassinating Assad. That’s not a solution I’m entirely easy with either, but it has the virtue of not directly causing any further civilian casualties, as war does. Assad is the one responsible; let him pay.
Meanwhile, we have our own house to put in order, and I don’t think we gain much respect from the world by telling others how to manage their countries. We can spend a lot of money that way, and make several corporations rich when they supply our soldiers, but how much do we actually gain? Can we say that Iraq and Afghanistan are better for our intervention? I don’t think we can, if we’re honest.
A lot of our soldiers are certainly not better off. We may not have had a great many killed, but many have been maimed, physically and psychologically. How does THAT benefit our country?
And how has it benefited the citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq? In Afghanistan the Taliban is still around, and the supposedly legitimate government we installed isn’t clearly superior to them. We can’t force the Afghans to have good government.
Nor can we force the Iraqis. Now that Saddam Hussein is no longer preventing it (nor are we) the Sunnis and Shiites seem to be warring against each other. We may not consider that a good idea, but how do we convince them?
And if we thought Iraq was connected with the 9/11 attacks (there has never been evidence of that), surely they’ve paid for that with over 100,000 civilians dead, against something over 3,000 in the Twin Towers complex.
So the question is what would ANYBODY gain if we invaded Syria? I believe that neither we nor the Syrians would gain anything useful. Many more Syrians would die, and so would US troops.
I don’t know if anything or anyone can stop the Syrian civil war. That’s unfortunate. but I also don’t think our country ought to try, at least militarily. I don’t think we’d benefit, and more important, I don’t think the Syrians would either.

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