Syria: No Quick Fix
By Mary Stata on 04/04/2012 @ 05:30 PM
For over a year now, the Syrian government has violently repressed its citizens. In what started out as a largely peaceful movement in March 2011, has resulted in nearly 9,000 deaths and protracted armed violence.
As the violence continues and concerns rise about Syria slipping towards all out civil war, many have started advocating for the U.S. to consider intervening militarily in Syria. Foreign armed intervention could escalate the humanitarian crisis and even spark broader regional conflict. Beneath the horrific violence in Syria lie long-standing roots of conflict, including authoritarian government, sectarian divisions, inequitable power and wealth distribution, increasing pressures on natural resources, and a brutal legacy of colonial rule and foreign intervention.
Even though an array of Middle East experts and the International Crisis Group have warned against military action, Senator John McCain (AZ) released a draft resolution last week that calls for arming the opposition. The resolution also specifically mentions, S. Con. Res. 71, a mass atrocities prevention resolution passed by the Senate in 2010, and PSD-10, which establishes an interagency Atrocities Prevention Board. FCNL strongly supported both of these policy developments, as important steps toward strengthening U.S. non-military tools to prevent genocide and other mass atrocities before they start. We encourage the Atrocities Prevention Board, once it is formally stood up, to focus on countries at risk of mass atrocities rather than countries currently experiencing such violence.
As Bridget Moix wrote a few weeks ago, “For its part, the US should be throwing all its diplomatic weight and resources behind Kofi Annan and the UN's attempt to broker a way out of the crisis…If those efforts fail, the US should work with the international community to try and try again.”
FCNL released a statement this week that outlines several recommendations advocating for a peaceful resolution to the crisis. We understand that these recommendations will take time and intense international effort to be successful. These recommendations offer the best chance for stopping the violence, limiting the loss of life, and restoring Syria’s path toward peace, stability, and reconciliation.
Tracking the violence and reading graphic reports about the reality on the ground makes my stomach lurch. I know, however, that war is the ultimate human rights violation and that military intervention would only worsen an already desperate situation. Simple policy prescriptions, such as arming the opposition, won’t resolve the long standing grievances many Syrians hold against the Assad regime. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “It isn't enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn't enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” Indeed, there are no quick fixes for Syria.