What Paradigm is Syria?

Why do we fight?

In the early 19th century, the German military theorist Carl von Clausewitz concluded that war is an act of politics pursued by other means. Two centuries on, a student of modern conflict might be forced to recast the doctrine for the globalized, 24-hour-news-cycle era: War is a political act pursued to the extent that politics itself permits.

In recent days, indeed, as Western leaders wrestled with claims of chemical weapons use on the outskirts of Damascus on Aug. 21, the balance between politics at home and the ability to project military power abroad seems to have shifted into a new and more circumspect era, as voters tire of fruitless wars overseas and of their leaders’ rationales for fighting them

via Syria Crisis Reveals New Paradigm – NYTimes.com.

Why the US shouldn’t fight:

Sir William also warned that “intervention never has been, never will be, never can be short, simple, or peaceable.”

“I do not say,” he added, “that England, Russia and France might not impose their will on the American belligerents; I do not argue the question whether it is right that they should do so. But this I venture to affirm, that they never will and never can accomplish it, except by recourse to arms; it may be by making war on the North; it may be by making war on the South, or, what is still more probable, it may be by making war upon both in turns.”

And so Sir William advised Britain to stay out of the American conflict.

via What Sir William Would Do in Syria – NYTimes.com.

Be careful using the Kosovo analogy:

But to win the vote, the Obama administration would be wise not to emphasize the Kosovo analogy. Instead, administration officials should admit that what they define as American interests in Syria are not based on a moral duty to prevent the slaughter of civilians. Nor is the goal to damage the Assad regime because of its strategic military alliance with Iran and Hezbollah.

Mr. Obama should stick to the issue of weapons of mass destruction, despite the inevitable echo of Iraq. By using chemical weapons against innocent men, women and children, Mr. Assad has breached one of the oldest international laws — the 1925 protocol banning the use of poison gas — to which Syria is a party. Although there are no enforcement mechanisms authorizing force in that treaty, much of the world would likely accept that a limited use of military force aimed at Syria’s chemical weapons capability is a legitimate and proportionate response to such a blatant violation.

via Syria Is Not Kosovo – NYTimes.com.

And don’t forget how Iran could help?

While some have said attacking Syria for allegedly using chemical weapons would warn Iran not to build nuclear weapons, others still want to pursue talks with Tehran.

But by engaging more directly with Iran, could the United States defuse the situation in Syria and help bring about peace? Could an attack on Syria damage prospects for negotiations with Iran?

via Can Iran Help the U.S. in Syria? – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com.

And finally, WWND: What Would Nietzsche Do?

Americans from President Obama to the average citizen are about to have a “Nietzsche moment”: the kind of experience that the German philosopher predicted when he said, “If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” In the case of our collective contemplation of what to do about the Syrian crisis, Nietzsche’s meaning may be that, in the face of such complexity, as much may be revealed about ourselves as about the dictator we seek to rein in.

via The Syrian Abyss – By John Arquilla | Foreign Policy.


10 thoughts on “What Paradigm is Syria?”

  1. I think another point that could be added to the discussion involving Syria can come from the “Rights of Man.” Specifically the idea that “Every human being as human being has rights, the same rights as every other human being. The sole fact of being human confers the fullness of the rights of man, the sole fact of being a human being a human being trumps ever distinction among men. The individual’s rights are independent of birth, of condition, of wisdom, of virtue, they belong to his very humanity. From this point of view all men are equal.” While this creed has the ability to motivate people, the way it is employed does not usually follow its transcending words. Specifically, enemies never fall under the human beings that deserve equal rights–a well known discrepancy. Specifically, on the New York Times front page on Thursday, there are Syrian rebels executing soldiers in a similar pattern that the Syrian government executes rebels, which consists of a poetic verse followed by gunshot to the head. This leads to the question of it is right for the United States to get involved in a country where either side is fighting for limited freedom?

  2. I am always cautious to comment on issues concerning measures to be taken in punishing sovereign nations for domestic conflict. I am in favor of respecting and protecting the idea that each country has the right to have their own political system and that we have no place in judging whether such system is correct or incorrect. On the other hand, I agree that Syria has broken agreements that create concern for the international community, and that the international community as a whole must take the necessary actions to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
    From what I have been able to learn in my studies of diplomacy there are several methods to get others to comply with your terms. One that I have seen to be very effective is the use of economic power prior to the use of force. The United States has been able to isolate Cuba from a lot of trade opportunities with nations that are allied to the U.S. and that has hindered Cuba’s influence and power to disseminate their ideals to other countries in the world. It would also be effective and less harmful if the U.S. and other nations united to embargo Syria and hurt them economically rather than choosing to use force.

  3. Ethically, I think the United States should become involved to help out the Syrians. The issue of IDP’s is something that should be addressed. Because of the conflict, more than a million people have become displaced. Many human rights have also been violated. The US should think about the impact that a limited strike would have on the country and consider different options. Although Israel backs the Obama’s proposal before Congress on intervention in Syria, it would just heighten tensions between Israel and Syria.

  4. In an interview with Charlie Rose, Bashar al-Assad rejected claims that his forces used chemical weapons on civilians outside of Damascus in late August.

    According to the NY times, Senator Kerry has recently been asking countries to sign a statement that blames the Syrian government for the chemical weapons attack in order to push Congressional debate forward. Who knows the truth?

    Mr. Assad also warned that if Syria was attacked, it would retaliate. Some are saying that a strike on Syria will result in war and there is the possibility that that war would gain momentum. Would the strike push Syria to retract or retaliate?

    Jim McGovern, Democrat from Massachusetts, said on CNN, “We’re being told that there are two choices: do nothing or bomb Syria. Clearly there have to be some other choices in between. We ought to explore them.” Do the people of Syria need a Superman who can take down the bad guy and blow things up, or would breaking down their economy even more poison the ill-minded enough to bring peace?

  5. Taking into all accounts, I think that there should be something done, by the US and other nations, in regards to Syria. Essentially, it has become a black hole of human rights. However, I am not entirely sure that military action is entirely the solution. As stated before, Assad has warned that there will be retaliation. I think past events should also be taken into view when approaching this situation. Look what happened when the US armed the Mujahideen against the USSR during the Cold War. It resulted in nearly a decade long war, with hundreds of thousand Afghani civilian deaths, and even more Afghans fleeing the country seeking refuge. The country’s economy was destroyed and despite the US’s initial interest in helping the country, as soon as it became tie to rebuild it, Afghanistan was on its own. This war only fueled their own civil even more. The country was left in devastation. Did the our military involvement really help them?

    Another concern of mine is the fact that the Syrian rebels are not a unified group. It is made up of many factions, and just plain civilians wanting a better life. Who is to say that any better of a political group will come into power if Assad was to be removed from power?

    It’s tragic what is happening to the Syrian people. Something needs to be done and yes, the US should be a nation that helps. But it can’t just be the US, other nations need to get involved. And I would hate to see Syria turn into the battleground for world powers to demonstrate their force only to be abandoned when the dust has somewhat settled and left to repair the damage that we helped cause.

  6. For the past couple of years, there have been atrocities committed by both the rebels and Bashar Al Assad’s regime in Syria. Why then, are we on the brink of war when the only thing that has changed is the method of killing? I understand chemical weapons are no ordinary weapons but I don’t believe that that reason alone should make us go to war. There are too many questions. Was Mr. Assad really the one who used chemical weapons? Would we be helping Al-Qaeda if we help the rebels? What repercussions would there be if we did do a military strike? Do we have the resources for another war in an already struggling economy?

  7. There are so, SO many questions on both sides of the issue about whether or not America should intervene in Syria. On the one hand, if America does not intervene at this point, will it put America’s reliability and legitimacy on the line in the international community? Because of America’s strength as a super power, are we morally obliged to intervene in the case of chemical warfare on innocent people? On the other hand, will civilians die as well if we do intervene? What are the implications of supporting the Al Qaeda-backed rebels against the government of Syria? America would be supporting the very people it has worked so hard to destroy. Because of President Obama’s statement about chemical warfare being across the line and then announcing to the world action against it, America must intervene. Many countries around the world now expect it and perhaps rightly so. It is true that once a country dips into a war, it is quite impossible to jump right back out, but if innocent human lives are at stake, where do you draw the line of “is it worth it?”

  8. I think that the diplomatic solution to this whole issue proposed by Vladimir Putin will probably be the best all-around solution we will see. But as with all the other possible courses of action, there’s no real way to tell what will actually happen, and how it will affect America’s leadership. There may be other solutions, but simply taking the weapons and destroying them seems to be a solution that’s good all around.

  9. I think for years, other nations have viewed America as the spoiled busybody of the world meddling in other nations’ affairs. Other nations despise us for the “good” that we try to do in sending in our military force to countries where it isn’t our place to interfere. I say that whenever the lives of innocent human beings are being persecuted, terrorized, or, at worst, destroyed by their leaders, someone has to step in and help them. If not us, then who? And yet while I feel very strongly that we should, especially in the instance of Syria, make an effort to help the people be freed from the oppression they face, I think it very crucial to understand that to do so, the methods we develop to undertake the task must be carefully crafted. We have to wait for the opportune moment, for the signal to be given. As it was mentioned before, josephdecker asked, “Why… are we on the brink of war when the only thing that has changed is the method of killing?” No method of killing is of greater or lesser importance in terms of the gravity of an individual’s death. Death is death, no matter how you die. However, I will say that some methods of killing – using chemical weapons, in particular – have great political significance. We may have wanted to assist Syria before, but the opportune moment hadn’t arrived until the news of this shocking new tactic of oppression was revealed. We now have a better, more significant reason for intervention than we had before. Is it a good enough reason to potentially go to war with Syria? I’m not sure. But it surely is a turning point in the situation. It’s the feather that broke the camel’s back. It opens up the probable possibility that America could become involved with less scoffing from surrounding nations and more understanding from them that we aren’t trying to overstep our boundaries, but that when a call comes for help, America will offer it.

  10. When considering President Obama’s call to Congress for military strikes against Assad, we have to think about the implications of backing the very unorganized and unstable rebel opposition. Because that’s what we would be doing…there is no bombing Assad and then going back to neutral. Congress needs to remember the minorities that will be at a huge risk if Assad’s government topples. Not only will the Alawites be slaughtered and driven from Syria, but the other Shia groups and the Syrian Christians. Together these groups make up over 25% of the population! By their actions, the Sunni rebel opposition have made it very clear that they intend to establish an Islamic state with a strict interpretation of Sharia law. This would lead to the deaths of thousands of Christian and Shia “infidels” and would lead to even more violence and suffering. The United States cannot turn its back on the vulnerable minorities by trying to act compassionately in response to the chemical weapons attacks. In the end, we would contribute to the gruesome deaths of even more Syrians and facilitate the rebels in creating a state that would subjugate women and minorities and would be a hub for al-Qaeda operations.

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