Monday, September 16, 2013

The Hubris of the Syria Interventionists

The Hubris of the Syria Interventionists
Juan Cole has been at times far more sympathetic to the rebels in Syria than I am, but this is spot on.  By Prof. Cole:
It is human nature to think, when we see an ongoing great slaughter, that something must be done. But because of the ease of availability of high explosives and other weapons and the breakdown of social consensus, there is little the outside world could hope to do. Arming the rebels, as Obama has pledged to do, will not, let us say, reduce the death rate. It may be a positive that the question is even being broached. Millions were polished off in Congo in the 1990s and it didn't get mentioned on the evening news in the US. Likewise, the Algerian civil War of the 1990s and early zeroes passed without comment in America. But if the US couldn't stop a civil war and a growing guerrilla war in Iraq while actually running the place, it can't likely do anything about Syria. It is a sad fact of 21st century life. What the US and its allies can do is improve the conditions of the 2 million Syrians displaced abroad, and try to figure ways of getting food and necessities to internally displaced noncombatants. The US hasn't been bad on refugee aid, but it can do substantially more, as can Europe and the Arab League. Ignoring the plight of a third of the country (the DPs) while strategizing how to scramble fighter-jets is the opposite of humanitarianism.
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