Which Is Worse: To Help the Syrian Rebels or to Do Nothing? | WALTER RUSSELL MEAD

From the Huriyet Daily News:

There are more than 30 different rebel groups, including the most prominent rebel group, the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA), fighting in Syria, according to officials from the most prominent Syrian opposition group, the Syrian National Council (SNC).
The Jihadists, Islamists, pro-al-Qaida and secular groups that are not under the control of the FSA and which are fighting in different areas of Syria against the Syrian regime forces prove how fragmented and disorganized the Syrian rebel groups were in Syria.
According to the SNC media officer, Ahmad al-Halabi, there are more than 30 opposition groups fighting in Syria – of whom only 15 could be identified by Hürriyet Daily News research. “Fifty armed men come together and they form a rebel group. They generally give their groups names from the Quran or the names the towns and areas they are coming from,” Ahmad al-Halabi told the Daily News.
According to SNC officials, there were between 70,000 and 100,000 rebels fighting against the Syrian regime in Syria. The most prominent rebel group, the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) – who listed its main base as in the southern Turkish city of Hatay on its website – is the best connected with the SNC.

Click to go to PDF of the article (In English)

From WRM’s Via Meadia Post:

Syria is a lot like Lebanon’s bigger, uglier, and meaner brother. The ethnic and religious tensions that produced decades of civil war in Lebanon are also present in Syria. The Assad dictatorship imposed a rigid order on Syria, but as the dictatorship crumbles the divisions are coming back into public view. Unless we were willing to put tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of troops in Syria and keep them there for a long time, often fighting bad guys and getting attacked by suicide bombers, we don’t stand much chance of building and orderly and stable society there, much less an open and free one.


Aiding the less ugly, less bad guys in the Syrian resistance, and even finding a few actual good guys to support, isn’t about installing a pro-American government in post civil war Syria. It’s about minimizing the prospects for a worst-case scenario—by shortening the era of conflict and so, hopefully, reducing the radicalization of the population and limiting the prospects that Syrian society – – – will descend into all-out chaotic massacres and civil conflict.

Understand and agree with this next with a big but…

If the United States hadn’t gotten itself distracted by the ill-considered intervention in Libya, we might have acted in Syria at an earlier stage, when there were some better options on the table. But we are past that now; the White House humanitarians did what humanitarians often do—inadvertently promoting a worse disaster in one place (in this case, Syria) by failing to integrate their humanitarian impulses (in Libya) with strategic reflection. This kind of strategic incompetence is the greatest single flaw in the humanitarian approach to foreign policy. It has led to untold misery in the past and will likely lead to many more bloodbaths in the future. Unfortunately, warm hearted fuzzy brained humanitarianism is one of the world’s greatest killers.

BUT:  There is really no reason we could not have done something earlier and more aggressively in Syria except that it is Silly Time (otherwise known as Presidential Election Quarter) in America.

One hopes that this is not the future for all of Syria, which has already succeeded in bombing its economy and infrastructure back decades.  Somehow when the dogs of war are unleashed the destruction seems immaterial.  Someday the dogs are impounded again and then the red haze recedes leaving behind only tears.

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