What in the world can be done about Syria? The U.N. went in, couldn’t help, and then gave up and pulled out. The West can’t seem to do much, except from a safe distance. Russia and China seem intent on protecting the regime. The slaughter and civil war continue.
Worse, and of greater interest to us, I think, is that these kinds of grinding civil wars often suck in neighboring countries and turn into proxy wars for regional influence and resources. Think the Congo in the 1990s, or Vietnam in the 1960s-70s. The developing world still contains a bunch of countries of strategic importance that have been frozen in time for decades by autocratic regimes (North Korea, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, ) Even if we can’t help Syria now, what about the next time?
On Monday, I’ll start us off by quickly summarizing the latest developments in Syria and efforts to resolve the crisis. This will include some ominous signs that the crisis may be spreading to Lebanon and drawing in the usual suspects (Iran, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, etc.) Then, perhaps we could discuss not just whether to intervene more directly there but also what principles should guide the West when this kind of thing happens again.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS –
- What’s the latest in Syria and in diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis?
- What are our interests in Syria? Strategic? Humanitarian? Upholding principles of human rights and international standards of democracy? Simple stability? Israel’s interests and Mideast peace?
- What more could be done? What is the endgame if we do versus don’t intervene?
- What principles should exist for situations like these? In an increasingly multipolar world, will this kind of cooperation become easier or harder?
- The spillover begins, and could get disastrous. I recommend, even though it’s by a prominent neocon.
- A strong case against armed Western intervention.
- Another one: We should not intervene militarily. But, we could do a lot more than we are doing short of that. (by Richard Haass, a Republican centrist).
- The other side: The case FOR direct, armed Western intervention (on mainly humanitarian and “responsibuility to protect” legal grounds)
Enjoy your Labor Day weekend, and I hope to see you at the end of it, on Monday night.