Sunday Readings

The Difficulty Of Transitioning From Dictatorship To Democratic Rule
Thomas Friedman of the New York Times has a good analysis of the deep-rooted animosities that keep the Middle East in a cycle of unrest and disarray. It follows his earlier article on the policy prescription for Syria.

“I keep reading about how Iraq was the bad war and Libya was the good war and Afghanistan was the necessary war and Bosnia was the moral war and Syria is now another necessary war. Guess what! They are all the same war. . . .

“And, as I’ve said before, they are all the story of how difficult it is to go from Saddam to Jefferson — from vertical rule to horizontal rule — without falling into Hobbes or Khomeini,” Friedman writes.

Doug Sanders of Canada’s Globe and Mail takes it one step further by asserting that the Syrian conflict has changed the dynamic in the region for decades to come.

“The damage is region-wide. Bashar al-Assad’s senseless war has not just ruined millions of lives; it has destroyed the longstanding ambitions of the Arab, Persian and Turkish leaders who have pinned their ideological fortunes to stability in Damascus. Things will never again be the same,” he maintains.

Does Syria Fit The Definition Of A Just War?
Robert George, a professor of jurisprudence at Princeton, examines the legality and morality of a just-war in the context of the writings of scholar Jean Bethke Elshtain.

“Elshtain recognized, however—as have just-war theorists going back to St. Augustine through the modern popes—that even when force is used in a just cause there are additional requirements that must be met. Critically in the current debate, these include the likelihood of improving, and not worsening, the situation for the people of Syria and other potential victims of undeterred tyrants or violent extremists. Another concern is “proportionality”—the requirement that the collateral damage inevitably caused by the use of force not be so great as to render the use of force disproportionate and unfair to the innocent,” writes George.

In a lengthy analysis of just-war theory from 2001, Elshtain writes:

“Approaching humanitarian intervention through a just war lens means that they, or their possibility, must be subjected to intense scrutiny and cannot be played out simply by appealing to compassion or to doing the “right thing.” This is because the just war tradition acknowledges the tragedy of situations in which there may be a “right thing” to do on some absolute standard of justice but no prudent or decent way to do it. Small wonder, therefore, that just war criteria are so frequently repaired to and are just as frequently, and quickly, dropped or forgotten when a certain moment, or need, has passed.”

European, American Publics Oppose Intervention Europeans and Americans are not in favor of military intervention in Syria, according to the 12th annual Transatlantic Trends survey, an annual survey conducted by the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Compagnia di San Paolo.

Interestingly, as the situation in Syria has worsened, opposition to taking action has risen accordingly. Today, one-in-three respondents in the United States (30%, down 5 percentage points from 2012) and even fewer in Europe (22%, down 10 percentage points from 2012) felt their countries ought to intervene in Syria.

In Turkey, 72% of respondents said their country should stay out of Syria (up 15 percentage points), while only 21% (down 11 percentage points) favored intervention.



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