Replacing Bashar al-Assad in Syria is not sufficient. Shedding known problems for ones that are unknown is difficult. In Damascus, the ancient capital, or Aleppo, the nation's economic hub, exchanging a known set of difficulties (even terrible ones), for an unknown state of affairs is a fearful choice. But after the killing of four senior security officials in the very center of Damascus, the shelling of Damascus and the wholesale bombardment of Aleppo, perhaps the risk of doing nothing will finally outweigh the risk of the unknown.
In what can only be described as an act straight from the "theatre of the absurd," comes news that Syria is running for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. That Syria is able to even nominate for the UNHRC in the first place, let alone be in a strong position to win a seat, is reflective of the endemic problem with the body -- the fact that observance of human rights is no barrier to becoming a member.
Pragmatically, there is no need for outside intervention when it comes to Syria. Yes, a lot of people are being killed, but perhaps more would be killed if outside forces were used to despose Assad. And unlike conventional war, a revolution is a personal thing for those involved. When outsiders participate, the dynamics change. And revolutions never turn out the way those who lead them expect, or even intend.
Now that the UN has finally acknowledged that Syria is in a "full blown civil war," it's even more reason why we of the Western alliance should stay out of it. Harsh as it may seem, intervention would be a mistake. If we (meaning Western democracies) entered the fray, it'll be war by proxy and wouldn't curb bloodshed, but spread it.
Let's cut to the chase. NATO partners do not want to enter another war to overthrow another Arab dictator where the end-game is not clear. The West is cash-strapped and has Arab Spring fatigue. Let's start an overt and sincere effort to arm the Syrian rebels, and stop the niceties in face of this building massacre.
The UN Committee Against Torture and Terrorism is blaming Canada, and seeks compensation for three Muslim Canadians who were held and allegedly tortured in Syria. If you become a Canadian citizen from a country that does the sort of things Syria and Iran do, beware about visiting for weddings or holidays. If you take a chance, knowing full well what can happen, then it's your responsibility, not Canada's.
The G8 Summit was oddly clarifying: With Europe riven with divisions over the euro and the sclerosis of welfare states in aging societies, the United States wrapped up in increasingly parochial domestic politics, Japan adrift and Russia backsliding into authoritarianism, Canada stood alone as a country with healthy economic prospects and a stable government.
One of the great myths perpetuated by the media is that Israel stands alone, isolated in the international arena. On the domestic front here in Canada, members of our municipal, provincial, and federal political parties have proudly declared that they are Israel's BFFs. Indeed, much of the same is expected next week when Israeli President Shimon Peres arrives here in Canada.
The reluctance of the United States to be involved even peripherally in an almost open-ended series of concurrent Middle Eastern conflicts is understandable. But Syria is aflame. Its regime has been a notorious terrorist exporter for decades, and is the chief conduit for Iran into the Arab world, the principal supporter of Hezbollah and Hamas.
After a year or so of killing people in areas that protest his dictatorship, Assad apparently has agreed to withdraw troops from killing zones -- starting some 10 days after making his promise to former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. What the hiatus does is give Syrian forces breathing space to further crush anti-government elements and destroy towns that harbour rebels.