14) The Last Bit: What to Do about Syria?

Wow. Do you ever watch global events unfold, wish you could understand them, then wish you could make a difference? Is it ever frustrating for you too? I mean… we see events such as those in Syria… Some of us travel there and talk face to face with insiders (Syrians, refugees, as well as those seeking to help them). Our hearts bend and *break* because of the human suffering. Yet…, sometimes… it just seems to drag on and on and on. What can we *do* ??? What *should* we do? We (Brigada) are not politically inclined but — goodness. When politicians like McCain argue with politicians like Rand…


and then seemingly get *nowhere*, is it as frustrating for you as it is for us? Sigh. What do we *do*?

We wrote a doctoral fellow who has lived and worked in Syria and studied at the University of Damascus. We asked him to respond about this very question. He was kind enough to do so. We wish we could thank him personally here, but due to security, it’s probably better if we use a pseudonym. We’ll call him “Joshua” (not his real name). (By the way, when he speaks of “we” he describes the USA.) But he responded, “Intervening in Syria is certainly not in the national interests of the US. It would take some twisting of perspective to make such an argument. Of course, a humanitarian mission is something else entirely.

If we entertain the idea of a humanitarian mission it must be said that regime change is not trivial (see Iraq, A-stan). There is no indication that the US could depose Assad and prosper a democratic government [or any functioning government] without a similar commitment that was necessary in Iraq (which is still unfinished/floundering). The US had a window of opportunity in which involvement was feasible. It ended when Russia intervened. We could have threatened military involvement and at least tried to push Assad to the negotiating table pre-Russia. At this point, it would take a massive commitment and willingness to butt heads with Russia, who controls the airspace. The Pentagon has done some studies on what it would take to create a no-fly zone over Syria and we couldn’t do it without drawing resources from other conflicts and would absolutely require bombing Russia’s assets. This all ignores the fact that post-Iraq, other countries don’t trust/want to join us in coalitions like this anymore and that we don’t have a legal right to go into the country (and depose Assad). Of course we do have troops fighting ISIS there now).

In short, if it was ever a good idea to get involved, the days in which it was feasible to do so have passed. We will be forced to either apply light pressure and hope to catch Assad at a weak point, maybe pressure Russia/Iran with something to limit their support, who knows. But options are thin. Of course, we can continue to supply rebels with arms and cash, but that will/is just making the conflict longer and more violent. Research shows that, on average, these efforts fail and have consequences that are impossible to control, but that are often negative. In the Syrian context there is little reason to believe [today] that we can effect change through supporting rebel groups based on what we know about rebel group formation, cohesion, and fragmentation. See all our failed attempts in-country thus far.

So, in my humble opinion, the US has little power to do much and is forced to sit idly. We should be helping the people impacted by the conflict rather than making it more muddled or simply doing nothing. Humanitarian aid will do more than help their pain and suffering. It will make it harder for groups like Nusra and ISIS to recruit.”

Feeling frustrated by the lack of options? For *sure* we can all pray. Right here. Right now. We can ask God to intervene and bring an end to chemical warfare, bombing, strife, pride, greed, and violence. We can ask God to bring peace, openness, and opportunity to speak the Name of Jesus among these friends, no matter how many miles away they may live.

Do you agree or disagree with “Joshua?” Do you have other specific prayer requests? Please share your opinion by clicking “Comment” following the web version of this item. And thanks in advance for your thoughts. As always, please don’t include any names or details in your response that might cause harm or awkwardness for anyone. And thanks for your opinion and for taking time to share it.

2 Responses to 14) The Last Bit: What to Do about Syria?
  1. janet Reply

    Thank you for some clarity on the Syrian situation. A clear mandate like this, to focus on humanitarian aid, is helpful.

  2. Susan Reply

    Was a good assessment on Syria. I think we can get involved by finding out good NGOs that are there right now in Syria helping the displaced, and in neighboring countries helping the refugees. We cannot not be there physically but our funds can. Also getting to know refugees in your area and building bridges of friendship will be a tremendous help.

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