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Stay out of Other Nations' Civil Wars

March 27, 2013 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

The long-standing Syrian dictatorship is an abomination. The ongoing Syrian civil war is a tragedy. America should stay out.

A decade ago another administration began another war with a promise of enshrining Pax Americana on the Euphrates. Unfortunately, the result was a wrecked Iraq, empowered Iran, and discredited America. With the decade-long attempt to implant liberal democracy in Afghanistan finally coming to a close, Washington should reject proposals for another unnecessary war of choice.

It has been two years since a peaceful rising began against the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Despite hopes of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others that he was a reformer, Assad responded with brute force.

Even then the Assad family and many of his fellow Alawites were too invested in power to yield gracefully. Now, after an estimated 70,000 deaths, surrender is inconceivable. Noted Joseph Holliday of the Institute for the Study of War: “Fears of retribution have pushed conventional and paramilitary loyalists to converge upon the common goal of survival, resulting in a broadly cohesive, ultra-nationalist, and mostly Alawite force.”

As the conflict grinds on the Assad regime is the likely loser, but the fractured opposition — whose competing groups have begun targeting each other — does not appear close to victory. Many more people will die before the fighting ebbs. And then the peace is likely to be anything but, as endless scores, ancient and new, are settled with blood.

This is precisely the sort of conflict America should stay out of. The case against joining the Syrian fratricide is simple yet overwhelming: Americans have nothing at stake that warrants going to war. War should be a last resort, employed for interests that are truly vital. War should not be just another policy choice for impatient internationalists and frustrated social engineers.

First, there is no impartial intervention. Entering the conflict is to take sides. Ronald Reagan, 241 Marines, and 17 American embassy personnel learned that lesson in Lebanon in 1983. Washington had proclaimed its commitment to peace by aiding one force in a multi-sided civil war. By becoming a de facto combatant the administration turned Americans into targets. Aiding Syria’s opposition means becoming a participant in that conflict.

Paradoxically, aiding the resistance could drive some Syrians who desire a negotiated solution toward the government. The Financial Times recently reported: “As the civil war becomes ever dirtier, rebels’ actions are starting to mirror those of the regime.” In fact, opposition …read more
Source: OP-EDS

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