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Five Perspectives on Intervention in Syria

September 6, 2013

Roadside mural of Bashar al Assad along the Damascus/Aleppo highway

Should the United States and/or the international community intervene in Syria? And if so, how? What are the moral, legal, and strategic issues at stake? What are the possible future scenarios for this war-torn country?

Here are five differing viewpoints on Syria, listed in alphabetical order by author.  What do you think? What's the right thing to do? Post a comment here, or on individual articles.

On Law, Policy, and (Not) Bombing Syria
Ian Hurd, Northwestern University, Member of Ethics & International Affairs Editorial Board (Council's Journal)
The question of whether the U.S. should use its military against Assad is separate from the questions of legal interpretation. The legal question does not address the likely consequences of the use of force.

Seven Scenarios for the Future of Syria
Seth Kaplan, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University
"Now that the country has imploded, there is no easy way out." Seth Kaplan outlines possible futures for Syria, followed by a list of recommended international options.

Syria: The Case for Punitive Intervention
Anthony F. Lang, Jr., St Andrews University, Scotland, Member of Ethics & International Affairs Editorial Board (Council's Journal)
"If framed in terms of punishment for a wrong committed, and if undertaken in a way that respects the rule of law at the global level, a military strike against the Assad regime makes moral, legal and even strategic sense."

Syria: "To Jaw-Jaw Is Always Better than to War-War"
David C. Speedie, Carnegie Council
The mantra of those who are pro-intervention in Syria is that while there are no good options, in the face of tens of thousands of deaths, something must be done. But according to David Speedie, while understandable, this is wrong for a number of reasons, both moral and pragmatic.

Finding our National Moral Compass on Syria
John Tessitore, Carnegie Council
The U.S. received aid from other nations during its own Revolutionary War, and so despite all, "as America debates the pros and cons of U.S. assistance to the people of Syria who are fighting against their own tyrant, we would do well to remember what we owe to the willingness of others to do what was morally right, however inconvenient."