❄ Syria

This is a post in process, to which I may make additions and changes in future. Please cite this by its last revision date: ❄ Syria 2013.09.01.1004.

The Problem

Civil war has now raged in Syria for more than two years. The Syrian civil war poses a classic problem to outsiders: whether to intervene. A government battling insurgents presents outsiders with the most acute forms of this problem if (i) it attacks its own people—including or especially non-combattants, or (ii) the war risks use of forbidden classes of weapons: chemical, biological, nuclear. The problem is still more acute if forbidden weapons could leak to trouble-makers in other countries.

The Questions

Is there any intervention that (i) would helpfully address the problems of Syrian civilian security, (ii) enforce, or reenforce, the norm against forbidden weapons, (iii) meet the test of serving the ‘national interest’ of the intervenor(s), and (iv) not make matters worse. As to (iv), what are the risks that the intervention would have unintended consequences which, in retrospect, would have weighed against a decision to intervene?


On 30 August I posted this note on my Facebook account:

Syria. [1] Beyond the P5 meeting in NY, I would wish there were a small group of US and Russian analysts tasked to sort [a] agreed claims (call them ‘facts’) and [b] with text explaining reasons, claims not agreed, [c] assembled using all means at their disposal. Aim: to supply Putin & Obama with possible paths to joint response.

[2] How about establishing, and enforcing if necessary, safe haven(s) in Syria for noncombattants? Syria’s not Kosovo, but see my 1999 paper “Kosovo: Is the US Bombing of March-April 1999 Sound Policy?” at http://www.learnworld.com/DRAFTS/DRAFT.1999.04.13.Kosovo.html


[Bruce’s Blog: 2013.09.01. Post A40. Short Link p=577. Front Door Index: http://design.learnworld.com/. Permalink: http://www.learnworld.com/DESIGN/uncategorized/❄-syria/]