A Responsibility to Protect Syria?

In this essay in The Atlantic, Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Steven A. Cook argues for intervention in Syria. “The arguments for some sort of lift-and-strike-like policy toward Syria are not without their problems,” he writes. Adds Cook:

There are good reasons that contemplating yet more Western violence against yet another Muslim country can (and maybe should) bring a certain queasiness. That said, if the international community wants to see the end of the Assad regime, as virtually everyone claims, then it is likely going to require outside intervention. Nothing ttat anyone has thrown at Damascus has altered its behavior and the current arguments against intervention do not hold up under scrutiny. If there is no intervention and political will to stop Assad’s crimes remains absent, the world will once again have to answer for standing on the sidelines of a mass murder. It is also hard to ignore the possibility that bringing down Assad would advance the long-standing American goal of isolating Iran. Any post-Assad government in Damascus would not likely look to Iran for support, but instead to Turkey and Saudi Arabia. That would be a net benefit for Washington and others looking to limit Iran’s influence in the Arab world.

He concludes:

Syria has become a place where violence, colonial legacies, the mistakes of the recent past, and the hopes for a better Middle East have collided to create layers of complications and unsettling trade-offs for policymakers and outside observers. Yet wrapping oneself in the false comfort that Assad cannot hang on for long seems like the worst possible way to proceed. Washington and the rest of the international community must come to grips with the idea of intervention in Syria or get used to the idea that Bashar al-Assad could stick around far longer than anyone expects.

Read the full essay here.

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