It seems things have deteriorated to a point in the Syrian civil war that chemical weapons have been used against civilians. As with much in the Syrian war, there is some mystery and confusion surrounding the event. Estimated death tolls have ranged from hundreds to over a thousand. John Kerry put the number at 1,429 on Aug 30. No one seems 100 per cent certain who actually used the weapons, though all signs appear to point to the Assad regime, which delayed UN inspections in order to destroy evidence.
Now all eyes are focused on the U.S. and Barack Obama. A year ago, when speaking about the conflict in Syria, Obama said that the “red line” would be the wide-scale use of chemical weapons, and now that has happened. The time has come to make a decision.
Frankly, few really want the U.S. or the West anywhere near this conflict. The American people don’t want it – one poll said that a whopping nine per cent of Americans were interested in intervention; the number has since more than doubled. Many in the Middle East don’t support U.S. intervention, including Assad loyalists in Syria. China, Russia, and Iran are also not in favour of it.
The last century of foreign intervention has done nothing but foster a deep disdain for the West in the Middle East and Northern Africa, from the dividing up of the fallen Ottoman Empire by Western powers to the creation of Israel and military intervention in Libya. Bush’s war in Iraq was the last straw.
Right now, many online are bringing up the WMD lie fiasco that led to Iraq being invaded, and questioning if America’s intelligence on the Syrian chemical attack is legitimate. Some are already using terms like “imperialism” and “neo-colonialism” to describe any move by Western powers to intervene. Obama has been lambasted and he hasn’t even made a military move yet, at least not as I write this.
At home, the U.S. is still slowly recovering from near economic disaster, as well as two extremely costly, long-running, and bloody wars of questionable success. And, after the U.S. got involved in the Arab Spring in Libya, the Americans suffered another blow when the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three of his staff members were killed. There isn’t a large appetite for more of this. Still, any call for international intervention will likely revolve around the U.S.
The plight of the Syrian people is moving, but I also feel that Western intervention should be off the table. I foresee nothing but bad coming from this. For one, although the Assad government is brutal, it’s who might take control in its absence that raises a huge question mark. There appears to be no shortage of groups in Syria fighting for power, from hardcore Islamists to those who want freedom and democracy.
The U.S. should stay far away from Syria, as should Canada. Canada stands to accomplish nothing but making enemies and making itself vulnerable to attacks by a new generation of people disenfranchised by the West meddling in Middle Eastern affairs. There has to be an end to the bloodshed in Syria, and it is tragic that it has been going on for two years already, with estimates of 100,000 dead and millions of people being made refugees. But this is an issue that should be solved within the region by regional powers. It’s time for the West to stop making enemies, even when it’s trying to do the right thing.