Originally posted by sasquatch672
The most recent debacle paining Obama and this country is the humanitarian disaster in Syria. Liberals and conservatives alike agree that this response is too little, too late; that the time to act was two years ago, and both Iran and Russia have taken the opportunity provided by the inaction of the United States to displace it as the region's hegemon. ...[text shortened]... erican has been made better for his presence?
I'm anxious to hear any and all viewpoints.
I don't perceive the Syrian Civil War as a clear-cut battle between tyranny
and prospective democracy. I perceive it more as a largely communal or
sectarian struggle for power between people from the Sunni Muslim majority
(including Al-Qaeda groups) who loathe Assad, an Alawite Muslim, and a
loose coalition of everyone else (by default pro-Assad): Alawites, Shia,
Druze, Christians (who regard Assad's secular regime as a lesser evil than
a potential Sunni Muslim theocracy), and even some Sunni Muslims.
Some men on that side have made the point that they believe they are
fighting more for Syria, at least the ideal of Syria as a comparatively
secular society, rather than for Assad personally.
I know that Assad's regime has discriminated in favour of the Alawite
minority and against the Sunni majority. I know that Assad's regime can
be ruthless in crushing opposition. But the USA has supported, or at least
been able to coexist with, some even more brutal dictators. The USA
has no mandate to overthrow every undemocratic regime in the world.
With regard to Assad's supposed use of chemical weapons, I could
understand why Assad could resort to chemical weapons if he were
extremely desperate and believed using them could give him a significant
military advantage, which would mean that--rationally, not morally--he
should use chemical weapons on a large scale if he would use them at all.
But Assad's position is far from desperate--he seems to be winning on the
battlefield--and it would make no military sense for him to use chemical
weapons on a small scale to kill a few civilians. But the chemical weapons
issue seems like a useful cover to argue for Western military intervention.
Which side would I support if I were a Syrian in Syria and unable to leave?
That would chiefly depend upon what kind of Syrian I was or perceived to
be and where I was located (it would be dangerous to be in a tiny minority
locally). If I were a Sunni, I naturally would resent Assad's discrimination
against Sunnis in favour of Alawites, yet I also would be worried about the
influence of too theocratic Sunnis in the anti-Assad coalition. If I were
an Alawite, while I would dislike Assad's dictatorship, I might believe that I
would have hardly any choice but to support him because I would be afraid
that Assad's downfall would lead to brutal reprisals against all Alawites,
whom the anti-Assad forces already tend to presume must be pro-Assad.
Let's suppose that, with enough Western military aid and intervention
(assuming that Iran and Russia did not counter by raising the stakes),
the anti-Assad coalition won, and brutal reprisals (including communal
massacres) against the Alawites and other non-Sunni minorites followed.
Almost all the surviving Alawites became refugees (where? Lebanon?).
Syria likely would become much more of a theocratic Sunni Muslim state.
Would that be a post-Assad Syria well worth fighting for?
I believe that the least bad outcome would be to encourage negotiation
in the Syrian Civil War, though it's hard to see how both sides can be
reconciled. The fault line between the Sunni majority and the Shia (and
other Muslim sects) minority cuts deeply into the heart of the Middle East.