Intervention in Syria: Reconciling Moral Premises and Realistic Outcomes
Eva Bellin and Peter Krause Middle East Brief 64, June 2012
The systematic savagery leveled by the Assad regime in Syria against its own citizens has sparked moral outrage and fueled calls for international intervention to stop the slaughter. For an increasing number of analysts this means indirect intervention by providing military and non-military assistance to opposition forces. In this Brief, Prof. Bellin and Prof. Krause argue that a distillation of the historical experience with insurgencies and civil wars, as well as a sober reckoning of conditions on the ground in Syria, make clear that this type of intervention would likely exacerbate the harm that it seeks to eliminate by prolonging the current bloody stalemate. Instead, the authors consider two alternative forms of intervention: choking the regime’s capacity for battle and restructuring the incentives to encourage regime elites to step down.