09.13.2013 08:09 AM

Syria: my response to those who argue for doing nothing, like Jon Kay



  1. Lawrence Stuart says:

    How is a show of force unsanctioned by the Security Council and thus, I believe, in contravention of international law, commensurate with upholding international law?

    • smelter rat says:


    • Ronald O'Dowd says:

      smelter rat,

      That argument fails because Putin has effectively rendered it moot — by making it clear that no resolution authorizing the use of force can get through the Security Council. The Council has in effect been preemptively neutered by Russia.

  2. Kelly says:

    Like Israel and Iran and Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Syria has never signed the treaty banning chemical weapons (partly because those countries haven’t) so they wouldn’t see themselves breaking international law. It’s sad, it’s disgusting, horrifying, but how is killing someone with sarin gas any worse than killing them with land mines (the USA still uses them), daisy cutter bombs (USA, Check), bullets, depleted uranium (USA, Check), White phosphorus (USA, check), etc.?

    I don’t ask this to be “difficult” but I think the possibly surprising anti-intervention opinions out there are based in growing lack of trust in State actors. People everywhere more and more believe that the people running governments (of all stripes) lie to citizens constantly. A lot of people don’t believe Obama, or Cameron or John Baird, or the German intelligence services. I do believe human right’s watch but I also believe doctors without borders who couldn’t confirm it was Assad who was behind it.

    When do we start dropping bombs on Saudi Arabia and Iran?

  3. deb s says:

    Mr Putin has taken care of the serious situation in Syria, in an unexpected plot twist, and this guy gave Obama his out. So hopefully he can deliver the weapons.

  4. dave says:

    …even odds, at least, that the rebs released the chems…but all our main media and spokespersons assume that regime did it…it is odd to me how often we build our arguments and actions on a simple repeated claim that something that is an opinion, often unsubstantiated, is a fact.

    Is threatening a sovereign nation with attack mentioned in international law?
    Is threatening a sovereign nation with attack on an unsubstantiated claim in international law?

    Surely, if we are going to attack another people, we could have the decency to lay out the evidence in public.

    One more question, if the rebs and their outside supporters released the chems and are rewarded for having done so, what are the consequences of that?

  5. Luke says:

    But other than punishment for using chemical weapons, what is the goal of a strike? If military action would not be intended to depose Assad, would it somehow be designed to seize the weapons and Syria’s means of producing or obtaining them? I don’t see how a strike would achieve anything unless there is a desired outcome. If you are proposing that Assad be deposed because of his perpetration of genocide, there is a goal (regime change) that can be argued for or against on its merits, but if you are proposing a short string of strikes with no goal, I don’t see how one could support it.

    Do you mean to advocate for military intervention in which we/the west aim to defeat Assad?

  6. Warren, choosing not to intervene is not choosing to do nothing. Humanitarian aid is still needed, to say nothing of an arms embargo. Essentially choosing not to intervene is choosing not to make a very bad situation into a living hell.

  7. steve says:

    The international criminal court should be punishing offenders not the USA. And if my car could fly it would be a plane.

  8. Well finally some word on the UN report. It was completed today, and the UN will determine timing of release, according to the CBC:


    We shall see if there is impartial evidence that points a finger at the regime. Even if it does end up being a low level Syrian Army commander who simply wanted to win a battle in a hurry, I believe that Assad should wear the responsibility. After all, it was the regime that dispersed the weapons to the battlefield. Hard to believe that local commanders would have access to sarin without VERY EXPLICIT rules of engagement. I am pre-supposing that Sarin was used, and it was the government forces that did so, because it stretches the bounds of credulity to cliam that the US specific intelligence regarding where the rockets originated from are completely false. But like I said, the UN report will be seen soon, and hopefully a whole lot of wild speculation will be laid to rest.

  9. Ian Howard says:

    Intervention is war no matter how you parse it. Do not rationalize or justify it. If there is no attainable objective do not entertain the idea.

    Preventive war was an invention of Hitler. Frankly, I would not even listen to anyone seriously that came and talked about such a thing.


    Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion… and you allow him to make war at pleasure… If to-day he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him,–’I see no probability of the British invading us’; but he will say to you, ‘Be silent: I see it, if you don’t.’


  10. Jim Connaught says:

    Okay, the rebels oust the Assad Ba’athist regime and take control of the country. What happens next?

    The rebel factions will fight amongst themselves until a dominant group emerges. What we can be certain of is the Syrian Alewites and Christians will be slaughtered by the Sunni rebels laced with terrorists like alQaeda. It’s gonna be a bloodbath and nobody will care.

  11. MCBellecourt says:

    I can see the reasoning to oust Assad, but isn’t replacing him with representatives of Al Q’aida just another case of new boss same as old boss–or worse? Bottom line, I think the pressure is coming from the arms makers themselves because there’s no profit in peace for those evil bastards.

  12. Mark Baker says:

    Points to consider:

    If jihadists seize the upper hand in Syria, we are one weight closer to the tipping point to the apocalypse. 1999, during the Kargil War between India and Pakistan, US intelligence had imaged Pakistani movements of nuclear weapons to forward deployments for fear of the Kargil hostilities escalating into a wider conflict between the two countries; ambiguous statements from officials of both countries were viewed as warnings of an impending nuclear crisis where the combatants would consider use of their limited nuclear arsenals in ‘tactical’ nuclear strikes. We know that Pakistan remains highly volatile, her military is riddled with jihadist sympathizers (Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad, the Pakistani equivalent of West Point); this could spread, explode, could all go really wrong, really quickly. This terrible and fundamental geopolitical reality can never be out of mind.

    While fighting the North Vietnamese proxy during the Cold War, the utilization of the Khmer Rouge was problematic from a public relations standpoint; Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter’s National Security Advisor, acknowledged, “I encouraged the Chinese to support Pol Pot … Pol Pot was an abomination. We could never support him, but China could.” This is exactly what is occurring vis a vis Obama and Putin; Obama must publicly distance himself from the Assad regime while in reality, strategists only wish to slightly reign in the regime yet utilize it to suppress the Jihadists who are near or already have taken control of the direction of the rebels. The Russian people, long accustomed to brutality and much less sympathetic to jihadists (e.g. Beslan Massacre), are not alarmed at the President’s support of the Assad regime.

    No doubt, these are brutal and cold calculations. But they must be made lest the world descend into nuclear horror. The Russians, Americans, Chinese, whatever their faults/sins/crimes maintain at least some rationality, some instinct towards self-preservation. The Islamists, most dramatically personified in the suicide bomber, do not share these instincts. Ushering in the apocalypse is believed to be the fulfillment of what has been written since the beginning of time and therefore nothing to be feared in the cult of death.

    Our deep concern with Trudeauites, is that in light of their long and blind admiration of Fidel Castro, they too share this apocalyptic mentalite, e.g: “If the (nuclear) missiles had remained we would have used them against the very heart of America including New York. We must never establish peaceful coexistence. In this struggle to the death between two systems we must gain the ultimate victory. We must walk the path of liberation even if it costs millions of atomic victims,” Che Guevara. While armchair analysts have the luxury of morality, princes must fight networks that would dearly love to incinerate millions, even billions by any means.

    There is only one law from here on in: the law of the jungle. Dark times.

  13. Tiger says:

    I really do think, again, that our experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq are colouring our response here.

    In that, all right, we agree: morally speaking, Assad should go.

    But what then? Who’s in? Are they any better? Are we paying for this? Are our soldiers dying for it? Is the result we get worth the blood and treasure put in?

    If not, then why go in the first place?


    Ignore the Security Council. Everyone understands that giving Moscow, and Beijing a veto on our actions means that there never will be any.

    But having ignored the Security Council, the question remains as to whether intervening is a good idea.

    If not, then don’t go. And this is where about two-thirds of Americans and Britons are at on the issue. Haven’t seen a poll of Canadians, but I imagine we’re somewhere similar — which is why Harper has restricted himself to cheering on Obama rhetorically while not committing any Canadian military resources to it.

  14. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Frankly, I would have expected more from this Prime Minister given his previous categoric and candid positions on human rights in China, Myanmar and elsewhere. Harper is out of character here — and idle cheerleading does not become him. Sure, we seemingly lack the military assets to make a substantial contribution but let us at least shoulder some of the burden in a support capacity should it come to military action.

    I expect our government to turn the screws diplomatically as they have never done before on those who would condone what has taken place in Syria.

    In short, in this instance, let Harper be Harper, and make sure he acts with all of his personal capacity to effectively support American action.

    • Tiger says:

      Harper understands Canada — and that Canadians would not stand whole-heartedly behind an intervention. (Hell, even Conservatives are split.)

      Can’t be PM of only the people who think like you. Have to look at the country as a whole, and not lead it where people wouldn’t want to go. (On some issues, you CAN push ahead, if you expect vindication before the next election. But you have to be careful about picking those issues.)

  15. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    True leadership often requires being unpopular without any certainty of vindication. But when the cause is just history inspires great leaders to take care of the rest and not wait for someone else.

    That’s how Wilson and Roosevelt won World Wars…

    • Tiger says:

      And both Roosevelt and Wilson didn’t get their country into the war until the population supported it.

      In a liberal democracy, you can’t get too far ahead of your people. They are the ones with the final say.

  16. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Welcome to the world of sanctions enforcement. Under the new agreement, as President Obama has acknowledged, the military option has now been taken off the United Nations Security Council table. Good luck with that — and with channeling Neville Chamberlain. Nothing but pure diplomatic bullshit in our time.

  17. P. Edwards says:

    I’ve heard the sentiment that they should shoot, gas, behead, blow themselves up and the last ones standing are the winners. Fatalistic Canadians?

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