The horror the Assad regime is unleashing on the Syrian people is the culmination of some of the worst atrocities in this Arab Spring. Details like body counts are occasionally available from elsewhere in Syria, but in Jisr al-Shughour, where thousands of Syrian troops have amassed to quell an uprising after an alleged conflict with security forces, little information is getting out. Tanks, heavy gunfire, and mass arrests have descended upon the town as refugees flee to Turkey in droves. The reality on the ground is almost surely worsening since Human Rights Watch released a report last week, the title of which was self explanatory: “We’ve Never Seen Such Horror“.
European leadership is reportedly building a case for a UN resolution against Syria. There are some calls for the U.S. to intervene as well. Steve Coll walks the line in calling for the U.S. to “press hard” on Assad, seeming to lean more towards the international route, specifically suggesting an investigation by the International Criminal Court, as they’ve done with Qaddafi.
There are a few considerations which should preclude any mention of a direct U.S. military intervention in Syria. First, we should consider the negative consequences of our latest direct (covert) intervention there, and consider to what extent that would be multiplied if we were to fully engage (let history be some guide here). Second, unless and until the U.S. government halts its own support of such atrocities in Yemen, in Bahrain, in Iraq, in Afhganistan, in Pakistan, in Palestine, and elsewhere, we have no moral or practical standing to intervene in Syria.