On United States Intervention in Syria: Remember a Few Things

Thanks to Joshua Brollier, a co-coordinator with WNPJ member group Voices for Creative Nonviolence, for this timely piece.  He has participated in delegations and peace-building efforts in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt and Palestine, and studied Arabic in Syria from September 2010- February 2011. 

To those who think the United States should intervene in Syria,

Remember this is the same United States which:

The many atrocities committed by the Assad regime since the start of the Syrian revolution are absolutely unacceptable and the stories emerging from the country are completely heartbreaking.  And in fairness, the war crimes committed by the many rebel militias operating in Syria, though lesser in number and intensity, are gruesome and also unacceptable.  The recent chemical attacks are undoubtedly a very disturbing development.  The 100,000 lives lost prior to these attacks were every bit as precious and the suffering of their families is no easier due to the type of weapons which killed their loved ones.   

As an outsider, I cannot pretend to know what the answer is to resolving this conflict, providing justice to those who have been harmed, or building a stable and inclusive Syria for all its inhabitants.  I am not sure that anyone knows. The Arab and Muslim states and various militias are divided by their specific interests. The large foreign powers all have their own agendas primarily based on competing imperial calculations. Ordinary Syrians’ voices are being drowned out by the violence and more immediate concerns like seeking bread and shelter.  (However, it is important to recognize that with all the focus on foreign Islamist fighters in the conflict, Syrians have remained active in the resistance, both armed and non-armed, to the Assad regime. They, of course, also make up the ranks of the government’s forces.)         

I lean towards agreeing with Patrick Coburn’s analysis that a first step in ending this nightmarish stalemate would be pressuring all sides involved in the fighting and the major regional and outside powers (who undoubtedly wield influence with the government and rebels) to immediately negotiate a ceasefire. The US has reportedly abandoned any participation in peace proceedings and is finalizing plans for air strikes. But even to those who see some sort of armed intervention as necessary, I would ask you to critically re-question the United States record in the region as a credible force for democracy, as a responsible and moral military and as a suitable partner for peacemaking.  With the drumbeats for war building and as US warships are arriving off the Syrian coast, I urge us all to speak out, work together and collectively seek another solution before even more of Syria is destroyed. There are many potential disastrous implications and consequences to increased US involvement in Syria and the region.  With the United States hypocritical and self-serving track record, another blunderous intervention will only make things worse.