The arguments against military intervention in Syria

So. I consider myself ignorant on the whole Syria thing. Unlike the feminist and other political issues I usually blog on, I didn’t academically study or do my own research or personally experience or interview people about Syria. If you’re looking for intelligent commentary, move along. If you’re looking for a (hopefully) intelligent argument, stick around.

The argument from duty

Our politicians were elected by Brits to represent the interests of Brits.They have a duty to care for us.  While it sounds harsh, they should put our needs before the needs of people they don’t have duties to. This is even more important when you remember that the Government continually vilifies the poor and disabled for scrounging off the State. Yet they’re going to throw away billions on Syria? Our use of food banks has recently skyrocketed and people are living without electricity, committing suicide and dying because of the DWP – and instead of helping the poor of this country they will spend the money on people in another country?

The argument from “ahem…”

As the UK is currently being investigated by the UN for breaching human rights in regards to the bedroom tax and David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May both want to scrap human rights in Britain, perhaps we aren’t in a position to moralise. The USA used chemical weapons in Fallujah – a bit of an embarrassment since their justification for attacking Syria is Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons against his civilians.

…Which segues neatly into The argument from moral colonialism

Isn’t it a bit patronising for the UK and USA to declare that they have the moral high ground and therefore the right to invade Syria? All Heads of State are supposed to be equal. Attacking Syria means placing Obama and Cameron as superior to Assad and having the authority to pass judgement on him and the right to violate Syria’s sovereignty. Given the UK’s bloody history of colonialism and the USA’s treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo (to name just two atrocities) we can hardly claim the moral high ground. It’s also a tad patronising to play the hero ‘saving’ these poor Syrian people as if they need our help and can’t get rid of Assad themselves.

The argument from ‘Who gets to decide?’

Reporters are obviously able to contact rebel forces and film UK women who have gone to Syria to fight Assad. In areas of Syria which are less chaotic there might still be internet access. So why don’t we ask the Syrians what they want? With Libya, the rebels requested NATO’s aid. If Syrians want our aid then that would be a good reason to go to war. It would obviously be difficult to sample the opinions of the majority of Syrians but it would be possible to at least get some views. Syrians should have control over their own fate. It was the drawing up of Syria’s borders by colonial powers which forced diverse ethnic and religious groups to live together and possibly indirectly caused the current turmoil in Syria. Foreign intervention in Syria caused the current problem so we shouldn’t be quick to do it all over again.

The argument from motives

Help rebels- or a minority- overcome the government -or powerful, priveleged majority- and your state can help shape the infant government, snatching up great treaty deals and continuing to influence the state for decades to come as a sort of political ‘colony’. Though the UK used to have a vast empire we gave up our last colony, Hong Kong, in 1997. Is Cameron having Empire Dreams? (See, that’d be a great title for a song). Thatcher played the same game – supporting Pol Pot– last time the Tories were in power.

Going to war because the USA wants to is not something that needs to be repeated (again). It’s also not a very good reason. The USA’s reason for war is because Assad is using chemical weapons. Apparently bombing and torturing his citizens is fine but not using chemical weapons. It seems suspeciously like a deliberately constructed reason.

The argument from consequences

Will the toppling of Assad lead to a democracy or just another dictator? Perhaps a non-secular dictator. The motives of all of the rebels are not clear. Some want democracy but others may be in favour of a religiously based government or one which priveleges their interests. If we go to war it will be to protect the Syrian people. But lots of Syrians will die as a result. Is being hit by one of our bombs that’s intended to save you really so much better than having chemical weapons used against you? I think not.

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4 thoughts on “The arguments against military intervention in Syria

  1. Korhomme (@Korhomme) September 1, 2013 at 2:14 pm Reply

    You can take these arguments further; what is the bombing intended to achieve? Well, if we think that Assad, having received a slap on the wrist, will stop using chemical weapons and use his other weapons, we are living in cloud-cuckoo-land. If we think that there will be a magical change of regime, well, the opposition seem to be operating on a ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’ basis; there doesn’t seem to be any creditable alternative at present.

    So, you want a war? Usually in armed conflicts there is a period of diplomacy before and afterwards; this may not give you the result you wanted. If you really want a war, then there is only one military and political/diplomatic outcome which is realistic: unconditional surrender. That’s what happened in WW2 and in Vietnam. Anything else is wishful thinking.

    Now, go and pull a few moats out of your own eyes.

  2. Clark February 18, 2015 at 2:58 am Reply

    Countries in the Middle East broadly fall into two groups; single-party governments such as Iran, Syria and formerly Iraq, and the monarchies such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar. The latter are “our” allies, part of the “Western” alliance of the US and UK, Israel, and the other members of the “Five Eyes” surveillance cooperative, with communication to the monarchies facilitated by the British royal family. The single-state countries have closer ties with Russia.

    It seems that the Cold War never really ended, and it’s about the oil and gas. Look how the hydrocarbons are completely hemmed in, by Russia and its client states to the north, and the “Western” allies and US military installations to the south:

    Attacking Syria is effectively an attack upon the Russian sphere of influence, as is the recent NATO interference in the Ukrainian uprisings. 39 years of oil left and counting (Javascript required):

    http://www.worldometers.info/

  3. Clark February 18, 2015 at 3:39 am Reply

    I suppose I’d best point out… There were civil demonstrations in Syria, but the numerous, ruthless “Islamic” fighters that suddenly appeared and which Assad’s government described as enemy terrorists are what are now being called ISIS. It’s a similar pattern to Libya and the Islamists in Benghazi. The Islamist extremists are what have become of al Qaeda, descended from the Mujahideen, recruited by the US to drive Russian forces from Afghanistan in the 1980s.

    These extremists arise in reaction to the repressive religious authoritarianism of the Saudi royal family. The Saudi Arabian regime brutalises and indoctrinates its population in the extreme Wahhabist form of Islam. But the Saudi royal family is utterly hypocritical and corrupt, and as young people grow up some of them realise this and rebel, in the same manner as Osama bin Laden rebelled. They retain their religious fervour but turn against the monarchy and its allies the “West”, becoming “terrorists”. By some means not fully clear, these Islamists turn up in exactly the places the “Western” alliance wants to have its next geostrategic war.

    Libya has 4.1% of the world’s sweet, light crude oil. Syria has a little oil, but more importantly is a pipeline corridor to the Mediterranean, hosts a Russian military port, and is an ally to Iran and Lebanon which are both on the “wrong side”.

  4. Clark March 8, 2015 at 10:01 pm Reply

    A slightly tacky 12 minute video associated with the Ron Paul institute, but it gets the facts right about ISIS. At about 5 minutes 45 seconds, note the countries contributing – Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel are US allies, the US supports and supported the new military government of Egypt in its overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Turkey is a member of NATO – so they’re all “our side”:

    The UK’s closest ally is the US. Somehow we have to regain democratic control of our government’s foreign policy. To achieve this, we need to discredit the propagandistic haze we’re presented with in the place of proper news coverage.

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