U.S. intervention in Syria will do more harm than good

by Chance Page, Staff Writer

The U.S. appears to be inching closer to an intervention in Syria. The recent airstrikes carried out by the U.S., along with the United Kingdom and France, combined with open talk of a confrontation against Syria and its allies by President Donald Trump, suggests that there’s a possibility of a full-scale U.S. invasion, to overthrow Bashar al-Assad and establish his replacement.

Al-Assad’s brutal war against his own people, including the use of chemical weapons, has already created a nightmare situation for the people of Syria.

The death toll, at the last widely accepted count, was 470,000 in 2016. It’s a testament to the chaos and suffering caused by the conflict, that many monitors of the Syrian Civil War have stopped counting the death toll entirely.

A few years earlier, there might have been room for military action to swiftly topple al-Assad and transition power to his opposition.

However, a military intervention now would not bring about a quick end to the war, and a smooth transition of power to a democracy. Instead, it will only prolong conflict, as the war has expanded to include several sides.

Even if al-Assad were removed by the U.S., conflict would continue between the U.S. and ISIS, Jabhat Fateh al Sham and its allies — and the Turkish-backed Syrian Free Army. Replacing al-Assad would be a long and messy process, and would likely require a lengthy occupation.

Intervening in Syria would not end the suffering caused by the Syrian Civil War — it would only prolong it, and the suffering of the Syrian people along with it.

Even disregarding the human costs that would come from this intervention, removing any moral or ethical concerns and just looking at the U.S. “national interest,” an intervention would still be counterproductive.

Intervening, and assumedly toppling al-Assad, would leave a massive power vacuum. With several sides possessing irreconcilable differences still holding power, Syria would further descend into chaos.

Even if the U.S. government is willing to sustain the human and monetary costs of this conflict, there’s no suggestion that it will help stabilize the region.

Past examples, such as occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, indicate that even occupations lasting a decade or more do not guarantee that the U.S. leaves a stable, united democracy in its place.

Another likely consequence of a Syrian intervention is deepening the hatred of the American government in the region — one stoked by previous interventions ranging from the CIA’s involvement in a 1954 coup in Iran, to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, to present-day drone strikes.

This can only lead to negative consequences for the U.S. future, as it helps drive recruitment for terrorist groups and, in nations with some form of democracy, might lead to the election of a more anti-American government.

While it’s almost unthinkable to not do something to topple al-Assad and help Syrians, a U.S. military intervention would only create a wave of new problems.