Another Turn of the Screw
Rebels Make Headway in Syria
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  • Andrew Allison

    I can’t help wondering whether, distasteful as the prospect of Assad remaining in power may be, this is good news on humanitarian grounds. Russia appears to have decided it wants Assad to remain in power and, given the impotence displayed by the West in Ukraine, will likely increase support. Meanwhile, the rebel forces are a breeding ground for radical Islamic fighters. Perhaps we should be more concerned with ending the war than who wins.

    • gabrielsyme

      Perhaps we should be more concerned with ending the war than who wins.

      Absolutely. Unfortunately, virtually all the possible outcomes were quite distasteful. Even if Assad had folded up shop and handed the keys over to the rebels at his first opportunity, the outcome would probably have been some combination of Egypt and Libya, with a lot more ethnic and religious minority communities for the victors to target. The likely outcomes of a rebel victory have only gotten worse as the war has dragged on.

      Hindsight is 20/20, but it increasingly looks like the wise policy would have been to have a consistent policy of supporting the previous order in the Middle East, condemning violent attempts to overthrow the government while using the unrest to press for increased civil rights in the affected countries. Aside from Tunisia, it is hard to locate a country that has emerged from an Arab Spring better off than it was going into it.

      It is my suspicion that American foreign policy thinkers have a deep-rooted instinct that violent revolution against “tyranny” is always a good thing. After all, that’s the way America came to be. And there’s no doubt that Gaddhafi, Mubarak, Assad et al were and are far worse than George III was, but that does not mean knee-jerk support for revolution is wise or even humane.

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