The Syrian Question | Opinion

The “Syrian Question” presents a moral dilemma for the Western world, which as I write sits poised to intervene in a Middle Eastern civil war. Do we jump in to save innocent lives? Or do we prevent World War III by staying home? According to the mainstream media, the majority of Western countries are against intervention. Considering everything else that is reported about the Syrian civil war, I can’t begin to understand why.

Assad’s regime monitors personal communications in order to root out dissent, and shuts down various websites it doesn’t like. Amnesty International reports that speaking out against the regime usually leads to imprisonment, torture or even execution. Syrians are not free, and neither are their neighbours. When Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (a leading figure in the 2005 Cedar Revolution that ended a 29-year Syrian occupation) took a stand for independence, he was blown up by a car bomb. If the West decides to stay home, conditions will only get worse.

If it happened here …

It is significant that Russia and Iran, themselves studies in totalitarianism, are backing Assad’s regime. Let’s reflect on what these countries do. Let’s reflect on Russia’s brutal pogrom against LGBTI persons, the increasing influence of the misogynistic Russian Orthodox Church, and Iran’s version of Islamism, which is against any freedoms (that you and I enjoy) that are not compatible with the Ayatollah’s interpretation of the Qur’an.

With thugs like these for friends, it’s no wonder the Syrians are screaming for help.

Intervention is not inherently a bad thing, and a distinction is useful. Assad’s Ba’athist regime is known to be brutal and expansionist – there are clear similarities here with the doctrines of fascism and lebensraum. American intervention in the Middle East is premised on the idea that a line must be drawn between a country railing against US foreign policy, on the one hand, and brutally targeting its own civilians, on the other, and has paved the way for moderates to establish strong democracies.

Another World War is always close – closer still now that powers like Russia, North Korea and Iran are trying to take control. Chamberlain tried diplomacy; look how that turned out. What makes us think this case is any different? Protecting Syrian innocents from being mulched into statistics is clearly the right thing to do, and if WWIII begins because of this, at least we will go in as the good guys.

If the West intervenes for the good, we will encourage good people in bad countries to do the same.
This article first appeared in Issue 22, 2013.
Posted 1:51pm Sunday 8th September 2013 by Guy McCallum.