24 February 2012

The UN and Syria

They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.1

The news this morning is that Kofi Anon is on his way to Syria. He is according to the news, seeking a cease fire and the insertion of Arab League "peacekeepers" under UN authority.

There is just so much wrong with this. The logic that suggests that there can be "peacekeepers" without peace is baffling. "President" Assad, the dictator who "leads" the country can hardly guarantee a ceasefire given the fact that his continuing presence in Syria is the issue causing the rebellion.

The West, or perhaps it is more correct to say the entire world community, has some very bad choices:
  • Do nothing. Continue the arms embargo, but otherwise do nothing. This assumes that eventually either the rebellion will fail or succeed. In either case, there is not much that the rest of us can do about it, except offer medical and other aid.
  • Intervene as we did in Lybia. Send significant air power into the area and pound Assad's supporters into rubble. This would of course end the conflict, but it is difficult to see how Syria would prosper after such carnage.
  • Invade. Send Arab League, Chinese and Russian (if the UN could get them,) and possibly NATO troops into the country, smash Assad's troops and impose something like peace. With Iran so close by, the issues this would raise are immediately obvious.

A variant of the first option involves a half-embargo. That is, embargo ammo for Assad's troops but not the rebels. And this variant comes with another: actually supply ammo to the rebels. This assumes that someone, CIA, MI5 or someone knows who is whom. For reasons utterly unclear to me, this is the bloody option favored by some Republican candidates and "leaders" including Senator McCain. Arming a rebellion that can then resort to "asymmetrical warfare" virtually guarantees long, bloody war.

There is one other option, the one we cannot actually say we are considering. Someone either USA using a drone or Seal team, England's MI-5 or Massad could assassinate Mr. Assad. The problem is that someone would replace him, and that person might actually be competent. Which could make the situation worse. While adding Mr. Assad to the tally of recently dead dictators has its attractions, Iran demonstrates this is not a guarantee of peace.

So, what is the best course? Mrs. Clinton and the other foreign ministers have gathered to consider that question. But they seem to me to have very few if any good answers. It may be that finally after Lybia, Iran, Egypt, Afghanistan, and Somolia, we are at last coming to understand the limits of power. Oh we can indeed bomb Syria into the stone age. But that does not solve the problems, it does not make Syria a prosperous partner in the world community. It does of course let us tell each other we have, "done something." But the problem will then remain.

It may be that we are left with the option that no government wants to proclaim. Wait. Pray, plan for immediate and effective rescue operation as they become possible. Muslims and Christians while waiting for the events to provide an opportunity to intervene with help for those harmed, can pray. I do not suggest that we can expect magic answers, only that we have to bring our issues to God, and await God's time. Oremus - let us pray.


1English Standard Version (©2001)

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