Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for Syria to start writing a new Constitution. Changing leadership and altering the legal structure, which defines the role, limitations, and powers of government, will do nothing to solve the problem in Syria when those changes are a superficial means of legitimizing the status quo. Only after the conflict is resolved or a viable quorum of warring parties is able to agree upon a common vision for Syria can a functional government be crafted.
Global leaders like Putin have an interest in preventing Syria from devolving into another Iraq or Libya, but the sad reality is that Syria is already in a far worse state than Iraq and may be even Libya. Prematurely crafting a new Syrian Constitution that solely legitimizes Assad’s hold on power or a peace plan that makes superficial changes to Syria’s leadership will do nothing, because the Assad regime is not strong enough to hold onto power and it does not solve the problems feeding the conflict.
The inability to recognize this demonstrates a misreading of the situation in Syria as well as a failure to understand the value of government and the nature of power.
Unfortunately, too many people support corrupt and abusive leaders, because they struggle to understand what a proper government should look like and what it should do. Even in Western democracies, special interest-driven politics create a situation where political leaders tend to cater to the interests of their constituents and benefactors at the expense of others. Public officials are elected to serve all the People of their nation by addressing and balancing the interests of all citizens. They are elected by their constituents in order to represent their interests in government.
A lack of proper representation tends to foster corruption while undermining the ability of a nation to adapt to changing interests.
The strength of democracy stems from the ability of people to freely express their needs and wants, so the interests of the entire population can be properly addressed in a balanced fashion that enables the nation to thrive over long periods of time. Democracy is vulnerable to corruption and abusive leaders, who embrace superficial democracy, but it gives people a chance to be represented in government and have their interests addressed; whereas, traditional governments just dictate how society is to be run.
The reality is that even the best of governments fail to equally represent the interests of everyone.
The very nature of society creates affluent individuals who garner more influence and power than others. Democracy attempts to mitigate the negative influence of these powerful groups that can crush the interests of less affluent individuals. It is inevitable that the powers-to-be will use their influence to serve their perceived interests. The hope of democracy is to shift their perception enough to the point they will serve their interests by avoiding harm to others and serving the common good, which is needed to foster stable, thriving nations.
The Islamic State was able to gain so much momentum in Iraq before overtaking Syria due to the failure of the Iraqi government to serve the interests of the Iraqi People. The Nouri al-Maliki government used the veil of democracy and law to legitimize public corruption that favored political allies and enflamed sectarian divisions. Unless Iraqi public officials can address the Iraq’s national interests and balance the competing interests of the Iraqi People going forward, instead of serving their own interests, Iraq will continue to be subject to instability as well as eventual collapse.
Because the Assad regime would not do that for Syria and Libya’s democratic leadership has been unable to do that for Libya, these nations are on the verge of becoming failed-states. Changes in government do not solve problems, but they do help empower those who can solve problems. Solving the problems faced by countries like Iraq, Syria, and Libya takes time, but the unwillingness of powerful figures to embrace constructive and real changes to leadership impedes the process and perpetuates the problems.
Read old posts