Well, here’s another nice mess

Syria is on everyone’s mind, so no apologies for another kick at the can (of worms).

This from The Washington Post (5 September 2013) by Ezra Klein: “10 things that could go very wrong if we attack Syria”.

1. Our strikes could result in heavy civilian casualties.
2. Our strikes could result in Assad killing more civilians.
3. Our strikes could result in Assad killing more civilians with chemical weapons.
4. The attacks are so slight that Assad survives them easily and appears strengthened before the world.
5. “You bombed it, you own it.”
6. Reprisal.
7. Assad falls and the chemical weapons end up in the wrong hands.
8. Assad falls and is replaced by chaos.
9. Assad falls and is replaced by something worse.
10. Escalation.

Klein cautions that, “Much of what could go wrong if we intervene could go wrong if we don’t intervene, too. But… once we’re involved, it’s a lot harder to say that disastrous outcomes in Syria are simply an awful, regrettable thing happening elsewhere in the world rather than a war we are directly involved in, and that we have some responsibility in guiding toward a successful conclusion.”

Ancient-Syrian-bowlWith the bitter experience of Afghanistan and Iraq fresh in many people’s minds, not least those directly impacted by the incursions of the military – children, women and men whose lives have been blighted, Klein’s words of wisdom ring true. Life is as fragile as this early Syrian bowl.

At the same time, it is absolutely imperative that the Assad regime, Assad cronies, and the whole edifice of dynastic oppression, be brought down in favour of a more balanced, democratic structure that in the short term restores a sense of dignity and worth to the country and in the long term strengthens the likelihood of peace and security in the region.

According to peace advocate Johan Galtung, a solution cannot be brought about by violence: “Whoever wins will be deeply resented by the rest in a region so deeply divided.” Nor by sanctions: “Regardless of how deep and broad, it is like punishing a person with microbes and the immune system fighting inside for having fever. The weaker the patient, the more contagious the virus.”

Galtung’s answer: Persuade them all to lay down their arms and to dialogue in every city quarter and every village about the new Syria they would like to see. Work towards “One Syria, federal, with local autonomy, even down to the village level; with Sunni, Shia and Kurds having relations with their own across the borders; and with international peacekeeping, also for the protection of minorities. And also a non-aligned Syria, which rules out foreign bases and flows of arms, but does not rule out compulsory arbitration for the Golan Heights (and June 1967 borders in general), with Israeli UN membership at stake.”

And then – which Galtung does not say – let the people punish Assad for his human rights violations. Pie in the sky? What’s your solution?


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