Avoiding the Storm Clouds of Syria

We should be supporting the Syrian Non-Violence Movement rather than supplying the rebels in their quest for a violent takeover. That would truly send a message that we have a genuine regard for all the Syrian people and would be a form of humanitarian intervention worth supporting. Rochester U professor-emeritus Robert Holmes makes an impassioned and eloquent case in this guest post that originally appeared in the Rochester University Campus Times.  – Arun


Robert Holmes of Rochester University on Syria

Robert Holmes PhD

     The storm clouds of a major Middle Eastern war have been gathering for years. A U.S. attack on Syria would bring that war closer, further destabilizing a region already reeling from violence. 

It would also have global consequences.  Central to the world order that emerged with the evolution of the modern nation state is the idea of sovereignty, the right of states to noninterference in their internal affairs. That concept has been at the heart of international law since World War I and is central to the UN Charter. That world order is now crumbling.  An attack on Syria could finalize its downfall. 

The idea has gained ground recently that states lose their legitimacy – and sovereignty – if they violate the human rights of their citizens.  Other states can then intervene to prevent such violations.  But as there is no grand moral tribunal to make these judgments, it is left to governments to make them. Kosovo provided the model, and so-called “humanitarian intervention” the rationale.  As human rights violations abound in the world, the door is open for nations to pursue their own interests behind the fig-leaf of humanitarian intervention.

The U.S. clearly seeks not only to punish the gassing of the Syrian people but also to bring about the downfall of the Assad regime.  Its ally, Israel, reportedly supports an attack that will contribute to a stalemate in the war, thereby weakening Syria’s ally, Iran.  Both are national interest concerns, not humanitarian. [Read more…]