Wednesday, 14 October 2015

This is not the moderate you're looking for...

With the Russian exploits in Syria being plastered all across the media, people have been taking to the Internet, TV, radio, and just about any medium where people will listen to talk up the idea of the west siding with Assad and the Syrian government as Assad represents a "moderate" Syria that could help stability in the region and fight groups like ISIS. I find this train of thought very odd personally. Mainly because the reason that a bloody civil war has been raging in Syria these past few years is because Assad started shooting his own people because they wanted democratic elections. That to me is not the action of a stabilising hand.

You encounter the same argument over Gaddafi in Libya. People talk about the NATO led intervention as if Libya would have been fine without it. Until you stop and remind yourself that the reason NATO intervened was because Gaddafi was about to slaughter a lot of his own people, having already made a start on shooting at protesters and trying to quell clamour for a democratic election by violently suppressing the population. The idea that if it hadn't been for the west intervening then Libya would currently be a peaceful paradise is fundamentally flawed.

I can understand to an extent why people think like this. They're caught up in the memories of Iraq, where the US led war did unstabilise the country and cause a wider conflict. It lingers in the back of peoples minds. But in the case of Libya and Syria it was the government that started the bloodshed and the government that perpetuated it. The fact that Libya didn't turn out to be a wonderful democratic paradise afterwards is neither here nor there. It was not the job of the intervening powers to rebuild the government. They pitched in to help the rebels end the war and overthrow a brutal dictator. The rest was entirely down to the Libyan people, as it should be.

Think for a second about the worlds largest and most powerful democracy, the USA. It began as a revolution against what was perceived as a dictatorial regime (and in effect was). It was a bloody conflict in many regards but ultimately the rebels prevailed. They went on to form a cohesive, legitimate, highly democratic and constrained government. This is what can happen when the rebels win. The point being that people seem to expect far too much from western interventions. It is not the role of NATO, the EU, the USA or anyone to dictate what sort of government follows after the end of a dictatorship. If you intervene to end a conflict swiftly and to overthrow a brutal regime then you must do so on the understanding that you don't really get much of a say in what comes after. That's for the people of the nation in question to decide.

I just find it all a little uncomfortable, this idea that somehow Assad is this wonderful moderate who everyone is now looking to as the beacon of peace and hope in Syria. His actions and the civil war he triggered led directly to the formation and success of ISIS.  That we would now see him as the solution is absurd. Anyone that thinks that Assad would honour some agreement to not kill his own people in exchange for remaining in power and for helping to fight ISIS most likely has a shock in store for themselves if this ever came to pass. This being the man after all who authorised the use of chemical weapons on his own citizens.

Assad is not a nice man. Assad is not the moderate stabiliser that people are looking for or that some seem to think he is. I really do not understand the sudden affection for him and his regime. He is - in mild mannered English parlance - a git. And we should treat him as such, as opposed to seeing him as the last refuge for salvaging the failed foreign policy ambitions of the UK and US.


  1. The "protesters"are no more interested in Democracy than the Tyrant, and they are significantly less interested in freedom, equality, and not slaughtering minorities than the tyrant.

    "Assad is not a nice man. Assad is not the moderate stabiliser "
    In England, True, in Syria, the mans a virtual saint.

    He is and always has been the least worst option for Syria.

    1. I think you missed the first stages of the uprising then. When people were peacefully marching (for the most part). And then the next bit where they tried to form a moderate council as the recognised opposition. And the current bit, where they've been trying to get the west to help support moderate rebels. ISIS is an opportunistic group that broke off from the rebellion, not the whole rebellion itself.