Opinion: On Syria & Interventions

The topic at hand these days is Syria, and whether the West should intervene. Given that nearly everyone in the West has already said what they think of these matters, I thought it only proper to describe my own as well. I have tried to base mine on logical reason and thought, which is to say that I have aimed to steer away from using emotions as a guideline on how to act in an instance like this.

My basic claim is that the West (or, at the very least, Europe) should not interfere in the Syrian civil war.

The question of chemical weaponry use in the past (and, potentially, in the future) is irrelevant in a more than a few ways — firstly, the West has used more destructive ammunition against both civilians and military personnel compared to any other denomination of countries. Thereby, a moral justification would first imply the complete renouncement of our own past actions which no political leader has suggested.

Secondly, chemical warfare is separated from ‘normal’/regular warfare by the simple fact that the bullet has been replaced by a gas. For either side, therefore the conflict did not change with the use of chemical weaponry since people died before and will die until the conflict is brought to a resolution. It is artificial to now say that “country’s own citizens are sacrosanct, and we will ensure military protection against further onslaught” when two years have gone by only with the mutterings of  “stop, please, it is not supposed to go like this”.

Now, I’ll come back to the original point and mention that it is not even confirmed that chemical weapons were used. Mind, I think it more likely that they were used — around a ratio of 80-20 for the weapons having been in use. Overall, this is a point that is far easier to determine than the next one while both are incredibly relevant in this matter. Namely, the question of who was the side to use the chemical weaponry.

The convention at present seems to be that the Syrian government ordered a chemical attack against its citizens. Unfortunately, without seeing the “proof” that the US intelligence agencies claim to have, logical reasoning would presuppose that given the following statement, ‘the Syrian government is in a conflict that it is slowly winning against an opposition that is varied in nature’ is true, the conclusion based on that statement would be ‘the Syrian government has nothing to gain by implementing methods that anger the West’.

Thereby, the logical answer to the question ‘Who gains from the apparent use of chemical weaponry in Syria?’ would be ‘the opposition to the Government’.

The opposition has the most to gain through framing the Government as if they had used chemical weaponry. The standpoint that the West would take could easily define the rest of the war as an aerial mop-up of Syrian forces while the opposition expands its power-base through the rest of the country.

Additionally, it is necessary to note that any benefit to the opposition that comes through Western use of force will be inherently against the interests of the West by way of the opposition consisting of a variety of different parties, some of whom are declared Islamist fanatics and al-Qaida allies.

From a Western point of view, I am of the opinion that if the present UK Government declares war on Syria, it will find itself in a far more difficult position for re-election — an important matter for the ruling Coalition. Likewise, a necessary point to consider is that none of the Western governments have considered the provision of military equipment (missiles, plane fuel at mission levels, etc) in their present budgets, implying that war would increase borrowing and lead to further cuts, increased borrowing, or raised taxes.

Any consideration of realpolitik would, therefore, quickly determine that even if there were justifiable moral reasons to support the side which chemical weaponry were used against, there can be no justification for supporting the opposition. There is no need or reason, however, to support Mr Assad’s Government.

In conclusion, therefore, it is apparent that the West should not intervene in the conflict in Syria and has more to lose from intervention than from not the opposite.