The end of April was marked by events that increased the likelihood of their intervention as well. Given the bitter experience of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, America, along with Europe, was not particularly eager to get involved in yet another "history"At the same time, neither America nor Europe wanted to find themselves in a situation in which intervention would be excluded even if necessary. Thus, they designated a conditional" red line ", the intersection of which would force them to reconsider their position. Namely - the use of chemical weapons.
There were two reasons why this “red line” was held. First, the United States and European countries do not tolerate the presence and use of weapons of mass destruction by other countries to colic in the guts, because they view this as a threat to their well-being, especially if such weapons fall into the hands of non-governmental organizations. But as for Syria, there was an even more weighty reason for rejection: everyone understood that Assad was not so careless as to use chemical weapons. The Americans felt that his whole strategy was based on refraining from direct invasion of the country. In the US, it was understood that Assad certainly would not pass the point of no return. This state of affairs quite suited both Americans and Europeans, because it allowed them to look extremely decisive without hitting them with their fingers.
However, in recent weeks, first the United Kingdom and France, and then Israel and the United States made statements that the government army used chemical weapons for the first time in the years of confrontation. No one was able to determine the scale of the defeat and indicate the exact number of victims. And the evidence for the use of chemical weapons was so vague that they relieved the parties concerned of the need for immediate intervention.
Recall Iraq, where, as it turned out, there was neither a nuclear nor any underground program to develop chemical and biological weapons, as was confirmed by American intelligence agencies. If such a program were to take place, then perhaps the American invasion would meet with great support from the world community. But even in this case, it is highly doubtful that the result would be better. The United States would continue to drive the Sunnis to a standstill, while the Iranians would still support the Shiite militias. Well, the Kurds would not give up trying to use the universal chaos to achieve the independence of their land. They would try to put an end to the conflict, but the end result was hardly any different from what we have today.
The lesson the United States gained in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya: it’s easy for conventional forces to destroy a government. It is much more difficult - if not impossible - to use the same force to impose a new type of government. The next government may be morally better than the previous one; it's hard to imagine anything more ugly than the regime of Saddam Hussein. But the regime that comes to replace it will first be called chaos, which will be followed by another one, keeping the US on a short leash. So whether it is a question of the notorious “red line” or not, few people want to be dragged into someone else’s war that revolves around weapons of mass destruction.
Interview: Arguments and Illusions
In general, so ... There are those who, for moral reasons, crave an invasion. In Syria, of course, there are problems of a moral and ethical sense, similar to those observed in Iraq. The current regime is fundamentally corrupt and vicious. It should not be forgotten that under the Al-Asad regime, mass pogroms were committed in the city of Ham in 1982, which resulted in the destruction of tens of thousands of Sunnis for daring to oppose the ruling clan. There was nothing new in this, and the world community could well maintain a position of indifference - at that time the media could silence the information on orders. Syria’s “elder brother” of the Soviet Union stood guard over the interests of the ruling clan due to its immediate interest in its prosperity. It was a struggle in which few people wanted to climb - the risk was too great.
Today everything is different. Today, Syria’s “patron” and “elder brother” is Iran, which, prior to the Syrian events, was trying to redo the balance of power in the region. Thus, from the point of view of American law and in the name of moral values, the invasion is fully justified, as it is intended to resist the regime that personifies evil. Some representatives of the left forces also wish to invade. In the 80, the primary concern of the left was the threat of nuclear war, and they viewed any intervention as a destabilizing factor that could upset the already delicate balance. The threat of nuclear war has sunk into oblivion, and the topic of military intervention in the name of protecting human rights for them is still a key, if not universal.
The difference between advocates of intervention from the right and left camps is an illusion that they diligently nourish. Despite the lessons taught by Afghanistan and Iraq, the right-wing advocates of the intervention still think that the United States and Europe have the power not only to assert regimes, but also to “plant” peace in the affected countries and create Western-style democratic states. The left believes that there is such a thing as neutral interference. This is when the United States and Europe invade to end once and for all with the evil of the world, but when evil is defeated, the country will choose a constitutional democracy in the Western manner according to its “good” will. Where the right cannot learn the lessons of Afghanistan and Iraq in any way, the left is incapable of perceiving the Libyan lessons.
When communism in Eastern Europe fell, everyone was delighted. And what could not like it? The evil empire collapsed - a reason for the joy of the right forces. The left fought in ecstasy about the restored human rights. But let's not forget that before Eastern Europe was captured by Joseph Stalin in 1945, she was under the yoke of Adolf Hitler. Eastern Europeans mostly hated both. The collapse of the Soviet Union gave them the opportunity to be who they were by nature. What was hidden under the surface layer - the suppressed, but still existing political culture and aspiration - was always there.
At the bottom of Afghanistan or Iraq there was nothing like that. These countries were not Europe and never wanted to be. One of the reasons why Hussein was despised was his principle of secularism, with which he violated the fundamental norms of Islam, both in his personal life and in the manner of governing the country. Many received a lot of dividends from the Hussein regime and gave him full support. But if we abstract from the regime as such, then the Muslim country remains eagerly, eager to return to its own political culture - just as Eastern Europe returned to its own.
In Syria, we see the struggle of two factors. Syria’s ruling Assad regime is Alawite (a branch of Shiism). But a far more important distinctive feature of this regime is its secularism, not guided either by the principles of democratic liberalism or by its roots in secular Arab socialism. Remove the regime, and all that remains under it will be - not another secular movement, this time democratic or liberal, but underground Islamic forces that were oppressed, but they didn’t pull out the roots to the end.
According to a New York Times article this week, there are no organized secular forces in Syrian areas controlled by Sunni insurgents. Formations of religious persuasion are used, and secularism - this concept refers to the Ba'ath Party and the Alawites. The regime and the Alawites were brutal, but get rid of them and you will not get a liberal democracy. This circumstance was missed by many observers for the Arab Spring. They believed that behind the screen of the secular and cruel totalitarian regime of Hosni Mubarak was a secular liberal democratic force. In Egypt, it was more than in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya, but it did not prove to be a clear alternative to Mubarak. An alternative, perhaps not as explicit as in other countries, was the Muslim Brotherhood. Without the Egyptian army, the third was not given.
The complexity of the intervention
In the case of Syria, there are serious military tasks. The idea of a smooth invasion will not work. Surgical precision strikes against chemical objects are a great idea, but field intelligence does not always work perfectly. Syria has an air defense system that cannot be destroyed without serious civilian casualties. Destruction of buildings that store chemical weapons may result in the leakage of chemicals before they ignite. Sending task forces into the interior of Syria - there will be no easy ride on a pair of helicopters. This country is an armed camp, and the destruction of chemical weapons storages is a difficult task, requiring the involvement of a large amount of human resources. To achieve this goal, you need to clear the ports, airports, as well as roads leading to the vaults. Then it all needs to be guarded.
For the complete destruction of chemical weapons in Syria (assuming that it is all concentrated on the territory controlled by Assad) will have to occupy these lands. The perimeter of the occupation will vary from day to day. Also, due to the dynamism of the civil war, it is highly likely that part of the stockpiles of chemical weapons will fall into the hands of Sunni insurgents. There are no methods that would guarantee a solution to the problem of surgical precision, whether it be point airstrikes, special operations, etc. As in the case of Iraq, the United States will be forced to occupy the country.
If Bashar Asad and the ruling elite of Syria are eliminated, his supporters - a significant minority - will continue to resist, just as the Sunnis in Iraq did. They achieved a lot under the Assad regime. In their understanding, the victory of the Sunnis will turn into a disaster for them. Sunnis, in turn, have enough brutality to repay the same. On the Sunni side, there may be a secular Liberal-Democratic grouping, but if so, it is very poorly organized, controlled by the Islamists and their more radical counterparts, some of which are associated with al-Qaeda. The civil war will continue until the US intervenes in the process on the side of the Islamists, crushes the Alawite regime and transfers power to the radicals. Something similar happened in Iraq, where the United States undertook to suppress the Sunnis, but did not want to transfer power to the Shiites. The result - all turned against the Americans.
This will be the result of neutral intervention or intervention designed to impose constitutional democracy. Those who decide to intervene will be trapped between Syrian reality and sophisticated fantasies, which from time to time guide US and European foreign policy. In the strategic plan, no serious damage will be incurred. The United States and Europe have an impressive population, many resources, so that they can afford to go on such invasions. But the United States cannot afford to suffer defeat over and over again as a result of interventions with some marginal national interests, especially when the goal is to solve irrational political problems. In a sense, power correlates with the perception of reality, and the habit of not benefiting from lessons undermines this power.
Many things are outside the military power of the United States. The creation of constitutional democracies through invasion is one of them. There will be those who will argue that the meaning of the invasion supposedly lies not in the expansion of Western values, but in the cessation of bloodshed. Others will say that an invasion, the purpose of which is not the introduction of Western values, is meaningless. And those and others are wrong. You cannot stop a civil war by supplying it with another party to the conflict, unless that party has truly unlimited possibilities. The power of the United States is great, but not unlimited. By the way, the use of huge power leads to huge losses. It is impossible to transform the political culture of the state from the outside if you are not prepared to empty it, as was done with Germany and Japan.
The United States of America, together with its European allies, does not have the necessary power to stop the bloodshed in Syria. If they try to do this, the burden of responsibility will hardly be comparable to the bloody result and the lack of victory in the strategic plan. There are places on the planet where it would be worthwhile to go and fight, but there should be few of them, and they should be extremely important. For the United States, bloodshed in Syria is no more important than for the Syrians themselves.