The International Community and its member countries have an interest in the Syrian conflict due to the broad interests all countries have in a stable International Community and the threat from weapons of mass destruction. (Feel free to read this previous post on the subject http://washingtonoutsider.weebly.com/1/post/2013/06/obama-opts-formilitary-intervention-in-the-syrian-war.html) The likely use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime is unacceptable as it threatens these shared interests and a failure to produce a meaningful response to their use encourages others to use weapons of mass destruction. That said, it is highly questionable as to whether or not a meaningful response will be mustered by the International Community, especially considering that the United States Is thoroughly unwilling, and unable, to engage in such a mission without our allies taking the lion’s share of the responsibility due to the wars in Iran and Afghanistan.
Should there be a military response against the Assad regime, it will be to accelerate the ending of the war with the hope of preserving what is left of the nation’s civil infrastructure and social institutions as well as to secure Syria’s weapons of mass destruction. Intervention cannot stabilize the country, because the Assad government is the only faction large enough and organized enough to immediately reassert control over Syria. Clearly, the bulk of the International Community will not defend Assad.
Consequently, the failing state of Syria will become a failed state, i.e. a safe haven for Islamic militant groups, require some degree of nation building, regardless of international military intervention, or remain in the tightening grip of an ever more brutal Assad. One critical question is whether international military intervention will leave Syria in a worse condition than simply allowing the conflict to burn out on its own. With the use of chemical weapons, deepening divisions, and increasing instability caused by ongoing destruction, it seems Assad will burn his country to the ground before he will give up power while the aftermath will likely leave the nation filled with militant groups and ongoing instability regardless of the victor.
Another critical question is who will intervene. Given America’s recent failed attempts at nation building and the likely outcome, the United States cannot be expected to do all the heavy lifting. The US may help in the military effort, but it will mainly be up to other nations to rebuild Syria. Although intervention should be headed by the Arab League and other Syrian neighbors, the European powers may be the ones who ultimately take on the cause. Unfortunately, even the most successful military intervention and nation building efforts will likely not save the Syrian People from a decade or more of violent instability. In fact, we may well be seeing the sequel to the Iraq War, minus a strong US presence. Depending upon what political divisions emerge and how many militant groups choose to disband, the rebuilding of Syria will either be slow or near impossible. That said, the Syrian People do need to see an immediate end to this phase of their civil war.
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