The Politics of Intervention Prevent Resolution in Syria

John Glaser, May 10, 2012

Stephen Walt is “thinking outside the box,” suggesting “a bit of a hail Mary” for mitigating the conflict in Syria:

Is there anyway to convince Assad and his closest associates to leave? I don’t have a surefire way to do it, but one big step in the right direction would be for Russia to shift is position and stop protecting him. In other words, what if Moscow made it clear that they were willing to grant Assad et al asylum if they left, but were not willing to help keep them in power any longer?

I don’t see this as particularly outside the box. In fact, I’ve been harping on about Russia’s support for Assad for months now. In this interview on RT from February I explained how Moscow’s support for Assad is one of the main factors prolonging the conflict. “Russia,” I wrote in March, “even after endorsing the Annan talks, continues to arm and support the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.” If this support were hypothetically withdrawn, I think it’s clear that would put unprecedented pressure on the Assad regime, which is already facing extreme diplomatic isolation. I hadn’t considered the asylum part of it, but that would certainly sweeten the deal.

As I understand it, Russia’s relationship with Syria is very much like America’s relationship with many of its own satellite states headed by puppet dictators. It is a relationship that, Moscow calculates, affords them a lot of influence in the geostrategically important Middle East, and continuing to support Assad throughout this conflict gives Moscow an opportunity to push back against Western, particularly U.S., imperialism for the sake of maintaining their own stake in the region.

The question is, as Walt points out, why in the world would Russia give up their satellite in Syria? Indeed, why would the U.S. willingly give up their influence in Bahrain or Yemen or Iraq just because it would be the humane thing to do? Walt suggests (1) letting Moscow and Putin take full credit for resolving the crisis and (2) to “toss in concessions on European missile defense, which is a costly boondoggle we ought to be ditching anyway.” I reckon there are several such “carrots” Washington could offer Moscow to make disunion with Assad more palatable. But this of course assumes Washington’s main concern is stopping the bloodshed in Syria, which it evidently is not. Like in Libya, the Obama administration views “credit” for “helping Arabs” as a high commodity, and I don’t see them easing up on the missile defense plan.

Furthermore, it seems unlikely that, if the Russians help facilitate a post-Assad transition, Washington would take a hands-off position going forward. Both Russia and the U.S. will then be vying to shape the politics of post-Assad Syria with nothing but their own interests in mind (and to the detriment of the Syrian people, if history guides). To Moscow and Washington, what happens in Syria is about them, not about the well-being of Syrians. If an obsessive-compulsive commitment to insidious intervention in the internal affairs of others remains the status quo, such a deal will be increasingly remote.




8 Responses to “The Politics of Intervention Prevent Resolution in Syria”

  1. I don't think many 'understand' how "regimes" actually work. This seems to be the "norm"; rather than the exception.

    If it were a "simple" matter of throwing money at a situation, I would assume the US (the most powerful nation to ever exist on planet earth) would have been out of Afghanistan a long time ago…with an obedient, self-sufficient puppy dog "client state" to boot…

    If there is another explanation for this protracted "conflict", I'd love to hear it; however, I can't think of, nor have I "heard" of, any myself. I am genuinely curious about an alternative 'explanation'.

    Gaddaffi "ruled" for ~ 40 years before receiving a machete inside of his rectum… How many can say that? Was Libya equivalent to Nazi Germany (which domestically could be pretty "nice" if you were "German" depending on the time)… Or was Libya like present day North Korea? I can't tell because I was distracted by the Rolexes on the "Rebels" and the Mercedes and BMWs the "refugees" were driving every time I turned on the news….

    All of that aside…

    Consider Saddam Hussein… Yes…Saddam was 'backed' by the US at one time; be that as it may, the US (along with essentially the entire world) turned against him after the first Gulf War. Even so, Saddam managed to survive through this, and was even able continue to "rule" in "Iraq" for sometime.

    Was it "interventionism" that saved Saddam after the 1st Gulf War? If not, how can the subsequent "power" Saddam enjoyed be 'explained'? Did Saddam put on a magical "Darth Vader" mask to scare the "people" of Iraq to do his bidding? Who knows… I'm not going to speculate now…

    All I know is that anyone who believes the line that: "Gaddafi gave Viagra to his troops to commit rape":

    1. Is a complete dumbass.

    2. Does not even know what the "drug" Viagra even does, or how it works, in the first place; either that, or Gaddaffi had an army of 70 – 80 year old impotent men…

    3. Is a complete dumbass…

    But I will let "history" decide these matters….

  2. I am saddened by the lack on insight after 14 months.

    This is like Britain in August 1940 with Hitler's peace offers and eichmarshal Goering's bombers on their way to bomb British cities and "the regime" of mr. Churchill is expected to give in and their successors hold peace talks.

    The reson for the continued crisis is in Washington and the official policy of replacing targeted countries' governments in the Middle East with pro-American ones as part of a strategic grand design to dominate the Middle East.

    Quite clearly Great Russia is going to oppose this, if only for Geoploitical reasons, but also in this case for humanitarian ones.

    This is because the plan is to support the Israeli Far Right in an alliance to dominate the Middle East and start a war with Iran.

    Islamisist Jihadists are being backed by Washington – this means the Christians, Alawites, seculars are all terrified and an carreer woman has to go an live inher kitchen in a form of house arrest.

    It is unsolvable as long as the Obama regime continues Neo-Con policies.

  3. Russia can not offer an asylum to more than half of Syrians. If terrorists win with help of all "Friends of Syria" the bloodbath in Syria will only start. All Alawites, Christians and even Syrian Jews will be pushed aside and out (if they will be lucky to survive) as the accessories of Assad's regime. Mainstream will be talking about rightful revenge of long time suffering rebels as it is in Libya and was in Kosovo and Bosnia. Inhuman treatment of people will suddenly be somehow UNDERSTANDABLE as if these people had no rights. If NWO's armies and diplomats and spy agencies will be done with Syria and Iran (as it was predicted by Wesley Clark many years ago) who will be NEXT? Is it Russia or China? That is why these two are now brothers in arms. There was never love between Russia and China but they need each other now and suddenly they know it.

  4. Precisely.

    As the "Peaceful" demonstrators chanted a year ago "Christians to Beirut and Alawites to the wall" a year ago.

    Some scathing letters have appeared in the British quality press about this insane policy.

    There would be a total disaster and bloodbath as the Juhadists take over, but American policymakers kid themselves that somehowit will be all right.s

  5. as an american syrian i can say for a fact that the syrian president assad has about 70 % approval rate between his people and thats why he still in power after all the biggest tow cities damascus and aleppo never even had any protest , as for what it started as a request for more human rights turned into a more radical movement lead by the supporters of the brother hood movement which are known for theie haters to anyone but themselves and they are calling for the killing of all christian and alwaiet people , after as christian ive never feared to practice anything i wanted yet as of now the so called peaceful demonstraters have destroyed every church they could and displaced all christians from their homes . so yes the syrian in syria and around the world wants assad to stay in power thats why they are going to the streets every where in every country showing their supports to him which to my surprise never ever made to our local or national media , just for you to know the syrian in the US went infront the white house twice and in almost evey state in the country

  6. [...] the Russians to drop their support for Assad. As I mentioned in today’s news section (and in previous months), the only way I can see the Russians agreeing to do that is if they have some assurances that [...]

  7. [...] pressure the Russians to drop their support for Assad. As I mentioned in today’s news section (and in previous months), the only way I can see the Russians agreeing to do that is if they have some assurances that [...]

  8. [...] the Russians to drop their support for Assad. As I mentioned in today’s news section (and in previous months), the only way I can see the Russians agreeing to do that is if they have some assurances that [...]