Syria, continued.


Muqawama calls for more thought about how any possible intervention could even work:

Analysts who argue either for or against military intervention have an obligation to sketch out the ways in which one could possibly intervene so that we can determine which ways, if any, make sense given the circumstances… regional specialists rarely understand military capabilities and options well enough to make an argument for or against, and those who understand military capabilities and options rarely understand the regional dynamics well enough to make an argument for or against. It is important, in that context, for scholars to work collaboratively to complement areas of expertise.

Lynch adds to the cries for caution:

I do not believe that we are heading for the direct American military intervention for which a vocal, if small, band of liberal hawks yearn, however.  Nor should there be one.  No advocate of American military intervention has yet offered any suggestions of how specific actions might actually produce the desired goals given the nature of the fighting. Air strikes and no-fly zones can not tip the balance in a civil war environment fought in densely populated urban areas where the U.S. lacks reliable human intelligence; recall that an air campaign took six months to succeed in Libya under much more favorable conditions.  Safe area and humanitarian corridor proposals remain impractical.  Advocates of military action should not be allowed to dodge the question of the likely escalation to ground forces — which virtually everyone agrees would be disastrous — after the alternatives fail. And there is zero political appetite for a military intervention:  it is difficult to miss that every single speaker at the United Nations, including the Arab League and Qatar, explicitly ruled one out.

Wright thinks America needs to get off its pathetic moral high horse:

Imagine if the U.S. had a naval base in some Arab country and popular unrest threatened the regime, which then set out to suppress the unrest. Oh, wait–you don’t have to imagine that; it actually happened last year, in Bahrain. And the US wasted no time in deserting the people in favor of the regime, even as some of those people were being killed or tortured.

Foust argues NATO’s action on Libya is to blame for Security Council silence now:

A big reason for Russia and China’s intransigence is the NATO coalition that led the intervention, which badly overstepped the range of permissible actions stipulated in the UN Security Council Resolution that authorized intervention. Russia was an early critic of such actions as France’s weapons shipments to the rebels — criticism that could have been accounted for (Moscow never made any secret of its concerns) but which seemed to be ignored in the rush to intervene. President Obama made a rapid transition from saying“regime change is not on the table” last March (part of the bargain to get Russian abstention from the UNSC vote) to publicly calling for his ouster. France and the UK used similar language, ignoring the politics of getting UN approval for intervention.

Walt agrees:

what if the Libyan precedent is one of the reasons why Russia and China aren’t playing ball today? They supported Resolution 1973 back in 2011, and then watched NATO and a few others make a mockery of multilateralism in the quest to topple Qaddafi. The Syrian tragedy is pay-back time, and neither Beijing nor Moscow want to be party to another effort at Western-sponsored “regime change.” It is hardly surprising that Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin condemned the failed resolution on precisely these grounds. In short, our high-handed manipulation of the SC process in the case of Libya may have made it harder to gain a consensus on Syria, which is arguably a far more important and dangerous situation.

Bonicelli does his best to explain the surprise Chinese veto:

the best explanation is inertia; China defines its national interest — apart from its freedom to engage in commerce wherever it can — according to the principle of non-intervention. Its reaction to the Syria situation is like its reaction to every other such situation: everyone should mind his own business, we like things as they are.