Author’s Note: The following article, titled “The Thoughtlessness of the Intervention Advocates – Syria,” was published by Al Yunaniya on June 16th, 2012. It makes the case against an intervention in Syria. Sadly, more than one year later things have remained largely the same in terms of the Western stance and rhetoric vis-à-vis the Syrian crisis. Once again, at a crucial juncture it seems that the “International Community” (admittedly dominated by Western countries) is contemplating an intervention in Syria. Wrongfully, in this author’s opinion, the debate revolves around legalistic, tactic-related, and grand strategy arguments. Even more problematic is the effort to exploit a “moralistic” pretext, such as the use of chemical weapons, to the accomplishment of immoral ends – related to international, economic and geopolitical interests. In this respect the International Crisis Group report was absolutely right to point out that should an intervention is decided, it would be undertaken “for reasons largely divorced from the interests of the Syrian people.” And that is all that matters.
Let us and the international society not fool ourselves: The International Community, NATO, and even individual countries willing to get involved in an intervention in Syria – be it authorized by the UN or not – will comprise a coalition of national and international elites completely dissociated from the intentions and interests of the public opinion and, even worse, dissociated from the interests of the Syrian people. Any effort of political communication by (inter)national leaders in favor of an intervention in Syria advocating that the operations would be “surgical” and that there would be benefits rather than new problems for the Syrians is largely misleading.
As argued below an intervention – despite its scale – would only cause more problems to Syria and the region. When years ago Edward Luttwak argued against “humanitarian” interventions and in favor of “giving the war a chance,” he stirred up debates in academic and political circles alike. But he was right. In times like this arguments such as Luttwak’s should be taken seriously into account, especially since the world has experienced more than a decade of unsuccessful interventions and post-conflict reconstruction attempts. The truth is one and simple: Humanitarian interventions are not humanitarian when they create more harm than good; when they are selective; when they serve elite interests, instead of the interests of the recipient country; when they are based on flexible, non-existent, constructed, fake, thoughtless, and insensitive “more codes” and pretexts. And this has nothing to do with ideology, or morality. It has to do with the reality and pragmatism. If the West wants to sustain the international lie that it promotes “democratic” and “modern” norms, among others, it should at least start acting as if it abides by what it anchors and advocates.
Published on Strategy International, 02/09/2013.