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This House believes that the West should invade Syria
This House believes that the West should invade Syria
On November 23rd, 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Committee passed a resolution condemning President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian government for the ongoing deadly crackdown on anti-government demonstrators in Syria. Passing with a large majority of 122 to 14 (with 41 abstentions), the bill gained wide-reaching global support from Western and Arab nations alike. Arab nations voting for the resolution included Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Turkey’s Prime Minister Mr. Erdogan has called for President Assad to step down after accepting Syrian refugees to flee to his country and set up a base of operations for the opposition forces.
The Syrian crisis began on March 16th, 2011 when security forces broke up a gathering of 150 protestors in Marjeh Square in Damascus. The United Nations estimates that the death toll in the Syrian protests now tops 9,000. Many people are calling for sanctions or more extreme measures to end the killing and restore peace and security to the people of Syria.
The uprising in Syria can be seen as part of a much larger movement across the Middle East and North Africa known as the ‘Arab Spring’. People across this region have been rising up to protest against the undemocratic and ineffectual governments in power in their countries. Protesters have been met with oppression similar to that seen in Syria against the protestors. NATO intervened in a protest situation, by providing material and financial support along with air support for rebel fighters in Libya, who were fighting to unseat their dictator, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. The intervention has been largely considered successful in-so-far as the rebel forces, with the aid of NATO were able to kill Gaddafi and end his regime’s reign of institutionalized terror on the Libyan people. However, as an on-going post-conflict situation with a power vacuum filled with violence and anarchy, there is large dispute over if the intervention was holistically beneficial or not for the Libyan people.
|Points For||Points Against|
|We have a duty to launch a humanitarian intervention in Syria.||Invasion is not yet justified.|
|Success depends on military intervention.||The nature of the opposition movements makes this an unwinnable war.|
Remember to choose a winning argument!
We have a duty to launch a humanitarian intervention in Syria.
Widespread indiscriminate killing of human beings is something that everyone in the world has an obligation to end. Mass killing of people is something that affronts the very basic meaning of what it is to be human. It denies the basic empathy and value we afford to each person on the basis of simple personhood and its occurrence is a black mark on all human beings who allow it to occur when they hold the power to end it.
In Syria today, the government forces are making their people live in fear of death and are routinely taking the lives of innocent people in order to control their population through fear. This week alone, 33 people were slaughtered by government forces include 6 children.
The West has the moral obligation to intervene in Syria to protect the lives of the innocent people and end the reign of terror of Bashar al-Assad.
Even if we do have an obligation to end mass suffering and indiscriminate killing, invasion is not the way to do so. Western intervention will inevitably increase the collateral damage by escalating the conflict into a full-scale war. Moreover, there is no guarantee that intervention will solve this conflict in the long-run instead of simply causing another endless war like the one in Afghanistan or Iraq. Therefore, even if we have an obligation to intervention, invasion is not the way to do it.Improve this
Success depends on military intervention.
There is no reasonable chance of success for the opposition movement absent substantial military re-enforcement by the West.
The Syrian government is uniquely placed for several reasons to be able to quell any opposition movement and to rule by fear and force for an indefinite amount of time. Bashar al-Assad’s legitimacy is and never has been based on any type of democratic mandate or popular support. He rules based on control and, as such, has built up many institutions to entrench this capacity to control the Syrian public over the years. Oil revenues are high and Assad has very deep monetary reserves that allow him to buy loyalty from his military and equip himself beyond the capacity of any domestic opposition group could feasibly do.
Due to these two factors, the only way that Assad will fall is by force and by force that is far greater than can be attained without the support of the West. Therefore, for the humanitarian situation to be solved, the West must invade Syria.Improve this
Although it is true that Bashar al-Assad has very strong entrenched powers of control in Syria, there are less risky and damaging ways to undermine this to help support the domestic opposition movements if this is your aim. The crux of this case comes down to the capacity of the government to outspend the opposition movements, international sanctions and freezing of state and personal assets of high-ranking leaders in Syria combined with funding of the opposition movements in Syria would gain this same end without involving Western troops on the ground.Improve this
Invasion is not yet justified.
Invasion is an option of very last resort, especially when dealing with a country of such strategic importance such as Syria.
Invasion is an option of last resort because of the collateral damage it necessarily leads to, the impediment on sovereignty it entails and the escalation of conflict it entails. It’s the nuclear option that is reserved for the very last resort due to the severity and unpredictability of its results.
With regards to Syria, we simply aren’t at the point of last resort yet. The UN hasn’t even levied sanctions against the Syrian government yet, never mind frozen Assad’s assets, tried negotiations or mediations, assisted domestic opposition groups or applied strong diplomatic pressure beyond a general condemnation.
The danger you expose the citizens of Syria to combined with the unknowable outcome of an invasion means that it simply isn’t justified to even consider invasion until all other means have been exhausted, which they haven’t been.
There is no obligation to try every other option if the other options are unlikely to work. People are unjustly suffering now, and we have an obligation to end that suffering as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Sanctions and asset-freezing are notoriously ineffective on oil-producing countries like Syria. Going through the motions of attempting to pass authorization for these actions through the United Nations Security Council, attempting to get the entire world to comply with the sanctions and then watching these actions not help anything. All this will do is prolong the suffering of the Syrian people.Improve this
The nature of the opposition movements makes this an unwinnable war.
The lack of coherent and unified opposition in Syria means that a Western invasion force will have very low chances of meaningful success.
Western intervention always carries the risk of fracturing a conflict by splintering opposition movements into those who do and those who do not support Western involvement in achieving their cause. This is problematic at best. With Syria specifically, this issue is augmented further still due to already existing lack of coherence and unity in the opposition movements. Absent a proper hierarchy and structure the opposition movement is going to be near impossible to cooperate with and will quickly splinter into an insurgent-style conflict.
There are multiple issues with this. First, there is very low chance of success in such a situation. Second, this set-up is the type that is most likely to lead to a long, protracted conflict that does not serve the interests of the West or the people of Syria.Improve this
The disunity of the opposition movements is the exact reason why we need to invade Syria. The other measures that are usually used to avoid war to aid opposition movements in oppressive dictatorships such as Syria, as outlined in Opposition Argument One, will not work. The only way we can end the slaughter of the Syrian people is through an invasion for this very reason. Although it may be messy, we have a very real obligation to invade. This is one of the reasons that underpinned the decision of the international community to authorize intervention in Libya, an intervention that can be seen to be broadly successful in ending the brutal oppression in Libya.
 Clark, David. "Libyan Intervention was a success, despite the aftermath's atrocities." Guardian 28 Oct 2011.
Clark, David. "Libyan Intervention was a success, despite the aftermath's atrocities." Guardian 28 Oct 2011, n. pag. Web. 23 Dec. 2011. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/oct/28/intervention-libya-success>.
Karam, Zeina. "Sanctions against Syria loom as death toll rises." Salt Lake Tribune 26 Nov 2011, n. pag. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. <http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/world/52995078-68/syrian-regime-syria-arab.html.csp>.
McCanin, Colum. "Arab Spring." New York Times 23 Dec 2011, n. pag. Web. 23 Dec. 2011. <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/25/opinion/sunday/arab-spring.html>.
"Syria death toll tops 3,500, UN says." BBC News 8 Nov 2011, n. pag. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-15635867>.
"Syria: UN Human Rights Committee Condemns Crackdown." BBC News 23 Nov 2011, n. pag. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-15834540>.
"Timeline: The crackdown on protest in Syria." Reuters US 20 Nov 2011, n. pag. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. <http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/20/us-syria-unrest-idUSTRE7AJ0F720111120>.
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