After John Kerry announced the approval of the US Senate regarding the Syria attack resolution, it was natural to think that September 4 would become a day to remember… Will it, though? Because if we actually made use of our memory and actively remembered, foreign intervention would have never been proposed in the first place.
While on the idealist side, it may sound just like the right thing to do, we must stop for a second before supporting foreign intervention in Syria and remember; remember what was the cost of intervening in Iraq with similar intentions of liberating a country from the chains of oppression and authoritarianism, and ultimately leading it to ‘democracy’. Remember how it all resulted in more than 2 million Iraqi refugees (UNHCR, 2012), a few hundred thousand casualties, a 4 trillion dollar loss (Harvard, 2013) and a power vacuum that triggered a civil war and facilitated the infiltration of Al Qaeda and other fundamentalist groups that have been causing the sectarian bloodshed that we still see almost 10 years later. We ought to remember the vindictive patterns that ended up as ruthless displays of violence against civilians (Sunni, Shia, Christian…). A poll carried out by Al Jazeera in 2008, estimated that about 80% Iraqi citizens felt safer under Sadam Hussein. Could that be another example of the wrong exercise of memory? Or can we conclude that intervention had clearly more costs than benefits?
Secretary of state, John Kerry, testifying while protesters stand behind him holding up their red painted hands, CBC, 2013
Yet, as easy as this may sound from an outside perspective, ethics (and other interests… especially those interests) start gaining importance. Bashar Al Assad has been brutally repressing opposition; one of my previous articles explains why his regime is very far from being inclusive, democratic or fair. Plus, the alleged chemical weapon attack in Damascus burdens the West (mighty and nosy as it is) with the ethical responsibility of helping out the rebel forces and overthrow the Ba’athist regime once and for all. Naturally, and due to all the mixed interests in between, the US, Israel and the Gulf countries are eager to see Iran‘s only ally in the region fall and, once more, make very clear who rules this neighborhood. And that is when we should actually start asking ourselves whether this intervention will be truly humanitarian or whether that is the slogan they want to sugar coat and Iraq.2 with. (Considering that these nations have a relatively large record of pursuing their interests come hell or high water).
Foreign intervention in Syria will have a high cost, not only among the Syrian population (regardless of their religious/political views), not only for Iran, for the Shia Muslims, for the Alaouite. It is absurd to think there will be no retaliation and radicalization. USA, Israel, global economy and the stability of neighboring countries will also have to pay the price. So why should we oppose foreign intervention? Because we have historical memory, because we’ve seen how interests matter more than lives, because we remember that USA barely cares about unstabilizing a whole nation and letting it sink in turmoil, because if we could go back in time and oppose intervention in Iraq, we would, so why would it be different now?