Why the West Can Only Lose in Syria - English

Mission Impossible

By Stefano Casertano15.03.2012Global Policy

Syria is increasingly resembling a Gordian knot: If Western powers do not intervene, Assad will continue to slaughter his people. And if they decide on more sanctions or military intervention, they are opening a Pandora’s Box of new geopolitical problems.



Part of the big powers’ lack of decisions about Syria can be explained by the unlucky concentration of elections and top-post nominations around the world that are taking place in 2012. In the West, both the US and French presidential elections will be held this year and incumbent leaders are afraid to displease citizens by engaging in uncertain and costly military operations. Russia’s electoral merry-go-round formally completed its turn in March, and the people are too busy “escaping the Tsar’s wrath”:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/9124909/Russian-riot-police-break-up-protest-against-Vladimir-Putins-election-win.html, to express any interest in the events in Damascus. That, or Russian bureaucrats are spending all of their effort on retaining a chair inside the Kremlin before Putin’s inauguration in May. China is also anticipating a changing of the guard: Wen Jiabao, the world’s least charismatic political leader after the UN’s Ban Ki Moon, will be soon replaced by Vice-Premier Li Keqiang. Since Syria is at the center of a tense network of political interests – from Tehran to Beirut – the stalemate will not be solved until the bearers of such interests have solved the annoying questions of domestic power. In the meantime, Syria is left to its destiny. It has been argued that an armed intervention, although justifiable for the moral reason of saving civilians from being killed by mafia boss Assad, may bring uncertain results at a political level. If the West intervenes, the Sunni component of the revolt may take over the country, excluding Shiites (or other local minorities) from power. This would provoke widespread resentment by the Shiite Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon, by Shiite Iran, and by the latter’s principal allies residing in Moscow. Eventually, if the West does not intervene, there is likely to be no positive scenario. Let’s assume that Assad wins: He would merrily accept additional help from the Russians and carry on the pro-active “pain-in-the-Arab-back” game alongside Iran. Tens of thousands of people would be repressed. The regime would have a free hand to develop the ultimate police state inside Syria. Now let’s assume that the rebellion wins. This seems rather unlikely at the moment, but let’s consider the option. Before Damascus is taken over by rebel forces, Assad may flee to Tehran and his wife Asma may get an internship post at Vogue, “where people love her”:http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/01/the-only-remaining-online-copy-of-vogues-asma-al-assad-profile/250753/. The rebels will set up their alternative Sunni regime and will remain faithful to all those who helped them: Saudi Arabia and Sunni Islamic organizations, plus – “so the reports”:http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/story/2012-02-12/al-qaeda-syria/53061264/1 – organizations like Al Quaeda. What we see now is a “Balkanization” of the conflict – yet no NATO bombing will help solve the conflict as it did in Serbia in the 1990s. The Syrian conflict will take years to resolve. Already, the death count has supposedly hit 10,000 while the international community watches. The same community that, for one reason or another, cannot intervene.



Most People Are Rationally Ignorant

What decisions would we make if we deliberated carefully about public policy? Alexander Görlach sat down with Stanford's James Fishkin to discuss deliberative democracy, parliamentary discontent, and the future of the two-party system.

A Violent Tea Party?

For many Europeans the massacre in Arizona is another evidence that political violence is spreading in the United States but this unfortunate event was the deed of a mentally ill person, not a political activist. There is no evidence of an increasing political extremism tearing America apart. Using

Passage to India

The US and Russia don't agree on much - but they are both keen to develop a good relationship with India. How do we know? Look at the arms trade.

"Cities are making us more human"

More than 50 percent of the world's population now live in cities – and there is no end of urbanization in sight. Harvard economist Edward Glaeser believes urbanization to be a solution to many unanswered problems: pollution, depression and a lack of creativity. He spoke with Lars Mensel about the

No Glove, No Love

Contrary to the mantras repeated by the press, HIV infections are not increasing. We need to move away from activist scare tactics and towards complex risk management strategies.

Perfection Is Not A Useful Concept

Nick Bostrom directs the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University. He talked with Martin Eiermann about existential risks, genetic enhancements and the importance of ethical discourses about technological progress.

Mobile Sliding Menu