5 Reasons to Intervene in Syria Now – NYTimes.com

To intervene or not to intervene–there is the question:

WHETHER you agree or disagree with President Obama, there is no doubt that he has formulated a coherent approach to the use of American power. The Obama Doctrine involves getting into a conflict zone and getting out fast without ground wars or extended military occupations. This approach proved its effectiveness in Libya last year.

But the president is not applying his own doctrine where it would benefit the United States the most — in Syria. One can certainly sympathize with his predicament. Syria is a mess, and it is tempting to stay out, especially in an election year. Yet inaction carries its own risks. There are five reasons to bring down President Bashar al-Assad sooner rather than later.

via 5 Reasons to Intervene in Syria Now – NYTimes.com.


10 thoughts on “5 Reasons to Intervene in Syria Now – NYTimes.com”

  1. Doran and Boot make some compelling arguments here. While there are signs that the U.S. and its allies will up their efforts to aid the opposition (http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-09-27/u-dot-s-dot-plans-support-for-syria-opposition-as-regime-seen-faltering), I don’t see any path to U.S. intervention in Syria, at least not for the time being. Obama isn’t going to do anything risky during the election season. Observers say al-Assad’s regime is losing its hold on Syria. But Iran isn’t going to let its ally go without a fight. Inaction on America’s part just gives Iran more time to make its moves. Turkey’s government, at first a staunch supporter of the rebels, is coming under more and more fire from its own citizens, who are now dealing with the byproducts of a war next door. And it is unlikely that an international coalition will form to help combat al-Assad’s forces if the U.S. holds back its support. If the Obama administration values a specific outcome in Syria, they will have to do something more to get it.

  2. An estimate 20,000 people have died in this conflict and major world powers are still discussing if they should intervene or not. Syria is not the only country in the world going through civil wars, and its population is not the only one suffering the destructive effects of armed conflict. Having that in mind, instead of blaming specific countries, I wonder why the United Nations is not taking the lead and doing something significant about it. At times such as this, I need to be reminded of why again do we have the UN?

  3. There is an op-ed piece in the Wall- Street Journal today by Mitt Romney criticizing the Obama administration for some of the very things this article mentions. Apparently the Romney campaign agrees that the Obama administration is unlikely move toward some sort of intervention at the present time and thought policy in the Middle East would be a good angle of attack. The op-ed piece does not specifically mention actions the US should take in Syria but does seem to suggest the US should take a more proactive role in shaping events in the Middle East.

    Here is the link to the article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444712904578024293333633994.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

  4. In this article, one of the reason that stood out most to me was the second one which says, “a more muscular American policy could keep the conflict from spreading. Syria’s civil war has already exacerbated sectarian strife in Lebanon and Iraq — and the Turkish government has accused Mr. Assad of supporting Kurdish militants in order to inflame tensions between the Kurds and Turkey.” The conflict in Syria is heavily affecting most of the countries in the Middle East. Not only is terrorism spreading and the killing of the innocent continues, but the amount of refugees in neighboring countries is dangerously growing. For example, in Jordan, King Abdullah makes a great effort to try and be as neutral as possible. He allows refugees who come in from Syria to stay in Jordan. This is greatly effecting not only the people but their economy as a whole. Jordan does not have many natural resources and their economy cannot sustain the amount of people that are pouring in from Syria. This is only one example of a country suffering from the turmoil of Syria.

    The final reason in this essay, I am not sure if I fully agree with it. Intervention needs to be made but to what degree? As American’s we could go in and help the fall of Al Bashar, but after his fall where would we stand? Would we try and force the American view of freedom and democracy on the people of Syria? What, as Americans, do we understand about their culture and their view on freedom?

    A different kind of intervention: http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidesyria/2012/09/20129308816498990.html

  5. Zoya, I love the idea you presented for a different kind of intervention. Allowing the Arab community to take the lead in any intervention in Syria enhances the chance for a more stable Syria in the future. Local leaders familiar with local customs and culture would both boost confidence in a hypothetical occupation force from the Syrians themselves and give the Arab world ownership of the situation.

    The only detail I would add to that form of intervention is that, whoever leads it, the United States will have to first obtain air superiority over Syria to minimize losses to all parties involved.
    In a paper by Col. Phillip S. Meilinger, USAF (http://www.airpower.au.af.mil/airchronicles/cc/meil.html) the first proposition he makes is that “Whoever controls the air generally controls the surface.” So far, only Assad has controlled the air over his country, leading to an effective stalemate between what’s left of his forces and the rebels. While not a guarantee to victory, any hope at changing the balance of this stalemate must first deal with the Syrian Air Force.

    An Australian think-tank analyzed the Syrian’s air defense network back in 2010 (http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-Syria-SAM-Deployment.html) and though the system has its own weaknesses, it presents a real threat to any NATO air force, and it would be very difficult for a coalition of Arab air forces to defeat it. The best bet is to use stealth aircraft to neutralize the air defense network first, implement a no-fly zone, and then from there intervention may take place more effectively.

  6. I think it makes sense for America to get involved in Syria and put an end to the conflict and turbulence being experienced in the region. Not only are America’s allies behind such a cause, but our national interests in the region would compel me, if I were President of the United States, to embroil myself, quickly but decisively, in such a struggle. In order to minimize Iran’s influence in Syria, halt the overwhelming burden of refugees to surrounding areas (@zoyakrup: most Jordanians oppose allowing any more refugees into Jordan, insisting that their cash-strapped country is at capacity. While it has graciously maintained an open door policy for refugees, allowing tens of thousands of people within its borders, Jordan and neighboring Lebanon are showing signs of economic strain. See: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/sep/06/world/la-fg-syria-jordan-refugees-20120903), and prevent the conflict from spreading, the U.S. needs to involve itself and take decisive action.

    1. I do not disagree that the conflict in Syria is terrible. I do not disagree that the conflict and its effects are spilling over into neighboring countries. I do not disagree that war crimes have been committed (on both sides) and that innocence is being violated. I do not disagree that the amount of individuals killed, raped, tortured or injured is not staggering and disgusting. I do not disagree that something should be done, but that is the question – what is to be done?

      A quick summary: The U.N. will not take action on the conflict in Syria because Syria has close economic ties with Russia and China. In addition, both Russia and China disliked how the U.N. took the Security Council’s approval of action in Libya and then ran with it. They see that kind of action as a threat to national sovereignty. Simply, they do not want the U.N. meddling in their own internal affairs and consequently will never approve any U.N. resolution that enables the U.N. to take action to intervene militarily. It is just not going to happen.

      The U.S. has actually done a great deal in helping the Syrian opposition. We have given over $12 million in humanitarian aid (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/08/02/statement-press-secretary-additional-12-million-us-humanitarian-assistan). The U.S. is using its soft power to pull support from Assad’s regime. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/06/07/statement-press-secretary-syria. The U.S. has called for regime change and has condemned the actions of the Syrian government.

      President Obama has been pragmatic about this and for good reason. Although there are U.S. interests in stabilizing Syria and removing Assad from power, these interests are not critical…..yet. In fact, in my opinion, they may have moved from being critical to no longer being critical. It may have been better for the U.S. to intervene earlier militarily when the opposition was not organized and did not have the military power that it has now. Then, it would have been more of an obligation out of American Ideals to intervene and preven the massacre of innocence. However, now the Syrian opposition is stronger and it is growing. I am not saying that war crimes are still not occuring. What I am saying is that those war crimes are occuring on both sides (from what the news says). Consequently, I do not think the U.S. should put boots on the ground or intervene with U.S. weapons or military. A year ago I suggested that the U.S. give technical support such as helping to provide intelligence information. If the U.S. has not started that, then this is something we could do. I think it would be unwise to do more than that at this point based on the two articles below.



  7. It is clear that Russia will not allow United Nations action be taken against Syria. It is time to put aside politics and for President Obama to get to work with Syria. Recent reports have suggested that the Syrian government has “carried out tests” with chemical weapons and are prepared to use them against the rebels. Gunfire has been exchanged over the Turkist border. Inaction here could in turn lead to a scenario similar to the Rwandan genocide where it was the West’s inaction that lead to deaths of many. This is something that must be stopped and the United States has to form the coalition of willing nations.
    Read here for some recent actions taken by the government against the rebels: http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=442229

  8. American involvement in the Middle East has certainly been a defining tenet of the past two decades of world history. While struggling to bring democracy to the Arab world, America – the World Police – has been known for good or bad all around the world. Our involvement hasn’t all been out of our benevolence for the oppressed, but has also served as a protection to America and American friendly nations in the Middle East. This struggle in Syria surely will not be an isolated experience. The Muslim world is restless and revolution seems to be around the corner in every Muslim nation. I believe that America would be wise to rid the world of Bashar al-Assad. As of now this isn’t an isolated experience, but with superior intel, tactful response teams, and brilliant execution of American operatives we have the means and the motive to secure Syria.

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