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Let's have a vote: Should the West intervene in Syria?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Winner, Sep 1, 2013.

?

See the thread title.

  1. Hell yes, the West should depose Assad by all means necessary.

    5.9%
  2. Yes, but the intervention should be limited to air strikes, possibly to enforce a no-fly zone.

    10.1%
  3. Yes, but only with a couple of punitive air strikes, to bring Assad to the negotiating table.

    6.7%
  4. No, the West should not get involved militarily in the Syrian civil war.

    69.7%
  5. I have no bloody idea why I am even reading this thread and voting in this poll.

    7.6%
  1. Winner

    Winner Diverse in Unity

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    We've had many threads devolving into debating just this question, so let's have it here, WITH A POLL (yay!).

    I of course draw inspiration from the votes in the British parliament, which in a surprisingly non-puppet like fashion voted against British participation in a military action against Syria, and that which is pending in the US Congress. And perhaps later in the UN as well, but nobody seems to give a damn about the Security Council any more, so it's not that important.

    The question is simple: Should the West[1] intervene in the Syrian civil war?

    Subquestions:
    1) When? Doesn't the fact that Obama wants to wait a week for a congress vote kind of defy the purpose of a punitive action by giving the enemy time to prepare?
    2) How? what should be the extent of the intervention? A few dozen symbolic airstrikes? A massive air campaign to disable the Syrian air defence network and destroy its air force, effectively enforcing a no-fly zone? No-fly zone followed by close air support for the 'rebel forces' (whatever that's supposed to mean)? Full-scale invasion with boots on the ground, regime change, and all the wonderful things that have worked so well for us in the past?
    3) For what reason? Should the West only intervene because of the use of chemical weapons? Or are there other justifications? After all, in the end it doesn't make much difference if you kill 1000 people with sarin, or you shoot 1000 people with automatic rifles; the people end up just as dead. Isn't it hypocritical to cite the use of chemical weapons as the "red line" justifying an intervention? And do you believe there is such a thing as "humanitarian military intervention"? Should the West try and stop the civil war, no matter the cost?

    Additional discussion topics:

    a) Were chemical weapons really used?
    b) Who used them? Did Assad himself order it? Was it an action of rogue elements in the Syrian military? Could it have been an accidental release? Or did the rebels used the gas, either as a provocation to draw in Western militaries, or just as a desperate attempt to resist the stronger Syrian military?
    c) How would other players in the region react to a Western intervention? What about Iran and Russia? And Israel, of course?
    (... raise other questions if you find them relevant...)

    ---------------------------------

    [1] - "The West" means the US and European countries. Israel is not included, as it is a separate player in the Middle East situation.

    ---------------------------------

    BBC video summary of "what we know" about the alleged chemical attack in Damascus
    How would Syria react? - Another BBC video featuring an "expert opinion".
     
  2. Lord Baal

    Lord Baal Chieftain

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    The West should intervene, and they should do it on Assad's side. I voted no, because you don't have that as an option.

    I think chemical weapons were really used, but find it very unlikely that Assad used them, for the reasons many have already stated. Those reasons being that Assad is winning the war, he has nothing to gain from using chemical weapons and that his enemies have plenty to gain from doing so themselves. The rebels and their backers are likely to have used chemical weapons in order to provoke a Western response or in order to provide an excuse for a pre-arranged intervention.

    Israel would love Western intervention, seeing as how they've already bombed Syria this year. I really don't understand why, since an Assad loss would be objectively worse for their position. They seem to think that making their region incredibly unstable is worth making Iran's position slightly worse though. Very short-sighted on their part.

    Russia is obviously going to be pissed. I doubt they actively oppose an intervention though, because they know they can't actively oppose the West with military force. They might give Syria a hell of a discount on anti-ballistic missiles if the US starts sending cruise missiles their way. Iran is likely to intensify their operations against Israel if the West intervenes.
     
  3. Winner

    Winner Diverse in Unity

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    Hah, I forgot about that. But I wouldn't have included anyway, because it is not even remotely realistic.

    From what I've seen in the BBC videos (linked above), it seems possible that it was indeed regime forces who used chemical weapons, but whether they were acting on Assad's orders or anybody's orders is questionable. We don't really know what's happing inside the regime, and there seem to be suggestions that there is a hidden power struggle going on between Assad and other elements of the regime.

    Ironically, bombing Syria could indeed bring down Assad - only to enable even worse people in the regime to assume power :crazyeye: We can add it on the list of reasons why to stay the hell out of the Syrian mess.

    I think they are too focused on Hezbollah, which has caused Israel a lot of trouble in the past 10 years and is clearly supported from Syria and Iran. What they perhaps don't fully appreciate is that if various Sunni islamists/jihadist militias end up ruling Syria, they'll have to deal with many more adversaries just as unpredictable as Hezbollah, Hamas, etc.

    OTOH, they have a good buffer zone in the shape of the Golan Heights, which are basically almost uninhabited and separate the northern Israeli lowlands from Syria proper.

    (Which begs the question why Israel had withdrawn from southern Lebanon, but that's not a topic for this thread.)

    I think if Syrian regime falls, Iran will just shift support to those Shia/Alawite/other militias which rise from its ashes, as the rebel factions start openly fighting each other.

    There is no reason to expect the Saudi-Iranian proxy war to end with the fall of Assad. It's a much wider struggle.
     
  4. Borachio

    Borachio Way past lunacy

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    Without a very clear agenda the West should keep out.

    They must define what their objectives are, be realistic about achieving them, and have a very clear idea about the end result of their actions.

    Just intervening to save face on the "red line" issue is not enough, imo. And as far as I can see that's all they have at the moment.

    edit: the views in this post are entirely the writer's own and should in no way be interpreted to mean that the writer wishes anyone to actually act in any particular way, nor is any judgement of those with other views, or who act in ways not conforming with the writer's view, intended in any shape or form whatsoever.
     
  5. Tahuti

    Tahuti Writing Deity

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    Intervening on Assad's side is not in the West's interests, unless they manager swap Saudi Arabia for Iran. Besides, "the rebels" are not one group, but rather a rag-tag coalition of various groups that are sometimes antagonistic. Some definitely are as bad as Assad, if not more, but the West can always depose of them after Assad's been finished.

    Actually, Israel wouldn't. For the same reasons you've mentioned earlier. If anything, Israel would prefer the conflict to drag down for years without resolution. One positive result of the Syrian civil war is that has made the Arab world at least temporarily drop its bizarre obsession with Israel, which to be fair is only the Palestinians' problem, not that of the entire Arab world.

    That's a highly likely expectation. Assad is basically the only reason why Iran has an interest to hate on the NATO and Israel. Get rid of him, and the West will be able to be friendly to Iran again, maybe even swap Saudi-Arabia for Iran, which I would support.
     
  6. dutchfire

    dutchfire Moderator Moderator

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    It has been suggested that Israel bombed Assad to show that they support the rebels, to prop up the amount of Assad gets in the Arab world by being able to claim he's anti-Israel..

    :crazyeye:
     
  7. classical_hero

    classical_hero In whom I trust

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    I actually agree with the first statement, but the rest of it I don't. Israel Bombed Syria when they were threatening to give weapons to Hezbollah, thus it was a strategic strike to stop an known enemy from gaining better weapons. Consider the history of the ME, it was a wise decision to do so.
     
  8. Winner

    Winner Diverse in Unity

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    Such a complete turnaround in Iran-West relations is highly unlikely for a number of reasons. To name just a few - oil supply, the nuclear programme, Israel, etc.

    For Iran to normalize relations with the West, a great number of "pawns" would have to be sacrificed - Hezbollah, Hamas, Assad/Syria, the nuclear/missile programme, the support for Shias in the Persian Gulf region and Iraq, and so on. The West would have to offer something Iran wants very much - security guarantees, the lifting of economic and arms embargoes, and Western recognition of its "sphere of influence" in the Middle East, and that I don't see coming any time soon. The Saudis are far more powerful as a lobby in Washington and London.
     
  9. AdamCrock

    AdamCrock Master of Darkness

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    I think that military solutions work fine but in a short scale. Using full force to get rid of Assad would put an end to current fighting but after that - it is screwed up all the same. Syria is destabilized and with Assad removed it would surely create internal power struggle and possibly another arms conflict. Is there even a way to put an end to this ? I have voted "Yes but with a punctive air strikes to bring Assad to the negotiation table". It seems that it's no solution either (and highly unlikely that it would really bring Assad to the table) but *something* must be done soon or there will be nothing but ruins in Syria.
    Another issue with this conflict is the Russia and China involvement - They want Assad to stay and have sucessfuly ensured it by blocking a couple of UN resolutions already. Why the want Assad to stay ? It seems to me that They simply do not want another Mid East Country to fall under the "US care" or should I call it "the sphere of influence". If The US and EU launches a full scale military operation in Syria it would create very dangerous situation between the major power houses in the world. Isreal position would be strengthened and Iran would surely be pissed at that further escalating it operations against Israel.
    As for the justification - It's already justified in my opinion. As the Winner said it does not matter whether the people got killed by gas or machineguns - it is still killing (the means does not justify the ends) furthermore I think the full scale intervention is what the civilians of Syria would want - to bring end to the killing. In my opinion the proverbial "red line" has been crossed many times over with civilian executions by firing squads and acts of genocide. I think that The West should intervene but under the UN (including Russia) terms.
     
  10. red_elk

    red_elk Warlord

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    I understand that "the West" cares very much about human rights wherever major trade routes or oil fields are nearby. Countries like Sudan are different story, people there can kill each other by millions as much as they want. All interventions (if any) must be humanitarian and approved by UN.
     
  11. Tahuti

    Tahuti Writing Deity

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    Actually, Iran has lost Hamas already due to their support for the Syrian rebels. Hezbollah won't be really useful without Assad either. Israeli-Iranian hostility and the whole Iranian nuclear controversy are mainly due to Iran's pawns, and as soon as Iran has no longer any obligation to them, the Islamic Republic would be dumb not to reapproach with the West and Israel. Not to mention the oil lobby would favor friendly gestures towards Iran already.
     
  12. Defiant47

    Defiant47 Peace Sentinel

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    3rd thread in the Tavern on this; 4th in Total OT

    Depends entirely on the accuracy of the intel.

    Do we live in a magical world where we know with 100% certainty that the intel is correct and Asaad used chemical weapons? Full-scale invasion, assuming we're ignoring the political ramifications and resource requirements. Is the intel merely of high confidence like it is now? Then maybe we should limit ourselves to just airstrikes for now then.

    If someone cannot do the right thing (like they cannot lift a boulder too heavy), then you cannot blame them for not doing it, or doing it after a while has passed. When? Immediately. When the intel crossed Obama's desk. Not after a press release. Not after declassifying the intel. Not after discussing with "Congress" and the "public" who will very likely want to stay out of a war no matter what. But I appreciate the difficult situation he's in.

    Once again, depends on what kind of magical land we're in.

    Best magical land: full scale invasion where we take over everything, and keep soldiers around for decades to watch everything everywhere in Syria and ensure no more bloodshed - this assumes we have so many resources that we would do this first in areas that need it more before getting to Syria

    Good magical land: full scale invasion where we establish stability and a government to help the country have a chance at democracy and stability

    Ideal (and my answer): No-fly zone with bombing support for the rebels, enacting the fairly successful mission that was Libya

    Unlikely: Total no-fly zone

    Unfortunately most likely: a few symbolic airstrikes and cruise missiles on chemical plants

    Best magical land: To save lives, at whatever the cost in resources (no touchin' mah taxpayer money to save them Muslims) or soldiers (...yeah)

    But I'm going to assume that I have to answer this in the limited context that is our reality, and that the American people would be far too selfish to spend their taxpayer money and risk their sons and daughters to make sure that Syrian sons and daughters and people don't die (and don't die a gruesome death). In that case, my answer is because of the use of chemical weapons.

    That, or we can put forward a motion in the UN that the use of chemical and biological weapons should no longer be deemed illegal or heinous. After all, a dead person's a dead person, eh?

    Absolutely.

    With a high degree of confidence, it was Asaad's regime. Whether this action was ordered by Asaad or not is irrelevant.

    Russia won't do anything, and neither will Iran, most likely. The problem is that if Syria lashes out at Israel, some kind of crap is about to hit the fan. We may be forced to extend our involvement and the scope of our role.

    So many responses to this, and so many have been stated... I'll make a short list for you:
    • Maybe Asaad isn't a rational actor who "would never use them if he's winning". You know, since he's a murderer? Should we release all the mass-murderers in our prisons, since they obviously wouldn't have done the murders due to nothing to gain from jail-time?
    • Asaad is winning the war, but the rebels were winning the fight in Damascus. Well, winning the fight in that they were successfully holding off the Syrian regime.
    • Winning a civil war won't get you too far with actually holding on to the Syrian land and population. What better way to make sure everyone falls in line than to use chemical weapons on the civilians?
    • My favourite: What better way to break the rebels' resolve than to show that even in committing a heinous atrocity, Asaad will not be deposed by the West... That's right, I used chemical weapons on your families. Nobody's going to stop me. Nobody's going to come save you. The West is "minding its own business".

    The rebels did not have the capacity to launch a missile attack like this. It was also a coordinated missile attack. It also came from government-controlled territory and landed in rebel-controlled territory.

    Realistically, the objective is: "demonstrate to the world that the use of chemical weapons is never acceptable" by bombing the crap out of the Syrian government. That's it. You just saved however many lives by thwarting current and future leaders against from such atrocities.

    The U.S. literally just has to send a bunch of missiles to pummel the Syrian regime, and it has accomplished its objectives.

    Now if we want to extend the scope, it would be more complicated, but I'll leave it at that for now.

    Good thing Syria is not a relevant or significant producer of oil. Good thing countries like Sudan are being addressed by the UN.
     
  13. DemonicAppleGuY

    DemonicAppleGuY Chieftain

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    Since the US it not willing to commit the resources to rebuilding the nation, a victory for either side is a loss for the West.

    This leaves Obama with two options:

    a)Nothing.
    b)Burn a few million dollars on cruise missiles to just let Assad know that we don't appreciate the use of chemical weapons but not use enough missiles to have a major impact on the war.

    The perpetuation of the war keeps both the radicals and Assad busy. Not such a terrible scenario (except for the Syrians but hey, we're talking strategy here! Emotions out!)

    As for why the Assad regime would use chemical weapons:

    Let's take it as a given that what the French and the Brits are saying is true and chemical weapons have been used numerous times before.

    Assad sees the lack of punishment for this use and decides to continue using them culminating in the recent attack.

    Even if his regime is winning, chemical weapons are much more effective than conventional weapons. Saving the lies of his own men in exchange for the terrible deaths of his enemies (*cough* Hiroshima and Nagasaki *cough*).

    As for actual evidence that the regime used them: The US has published reports stating that the chemicals weapons were delivered via rockets and that these rockets originated from government facilities.

    Yes yes, this could be falsified, but there is no evidence of any kind to the contrary. And if that sort of evidence did get published, who am I not to call them liars as well?

    My reasoning for believing the US would not lie is that the US does not have a net gain from intervention. And before you attempt to prove the opposite, due consider all consequences not only in the region but around the world.
     
  14. Rashiminos

    Rashiminos Fool Prophet

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    Mossad has probably answered the question for Israel in any case.
     
  15. kramerfan86

    kramerfan86 Chieftain

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    Absolutely no, BUT if he insists on doing something it better just be a few limited strikes at evacuated command centers so he sends his precious spanking but doesnt alter the course of the war. Acting to alter the course of the war means the inevitable atrocities that the victorious rebels do would be on the west's hands.
     
  16. Borachio

    Borachio Way past lunacy

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    Meanwhile, given the delay in the US intervention (should there ever be one), Syria now has plenty of time to surround all its military installations with civilians (or move the equipment into centres of population), and make the most capital it can out of the civilian casualties that will inevitably follow any strikes.

    What fun this all is!
     
  17. DemonicAppleGuY

    DemonicAppleGuY Chieftain

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    And if the US was altering the course of the war, Assad has no reason not to use chemical weapons if he is paying the price for it anyways.

    I don't see the US using WMDs against Syria.
     
  18. JollyRoger

    JollyRoger Slippin' Jimmy Supporter

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    The west should use its limited resources to deal with apartheid in Israel.
     
  19. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Entangled Retired Moderator Supporter

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    Cut the head off the snake (kill Assad and his key staff) and let the people sort things out.
     
  20. Borachio

    Borachio Way past lunacy

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    Yeah. There's some very good reasons why that isn't usually considered a good option.

    I'd guess one of the major ones is that it's a very difficult thing to do.

    Another one is that the results would be very unpredictable.

    Still, whatever the reasons, it hasn't often been done in the past.
     

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