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HuffPo: Military Intervention in Syria Is a Bad Idea

April 2, 2012

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Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics and Chair of Mid-Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco, says rather than military intervention, nonviolent resistance combined with targeted international sanctions will force the Syrian government to negotiate with the opposition for a transfer of power to a democratic majority.

Although the impulse to try to end the ongoing repression by the Syrian regime against its own people through foreign military intervention is understandable, it would be a very bad idea.

Empirical studies have repeatedly demonstrated that international military interventions in cases of severe repression actually exacerbate violence in the short term and can only reduce violence in the longer term if the intervention is impartial or neutral. Other studies demonstrate that foreign military interventions actually increase the duration of civil wars, making the conflicts longer and bloodier, and the regional consequences more serious, than if there were no intervention. In addition, military intervention would likely trigger a "gloves off" mentality that would dramatically escalate the violence on both sides.

Even putting aside the recent historical record, however, virtually anyone familiar with Syrian politics and history can recognize the fallacy of such foreign support for the armed struggle.

Many nonviolent protesters have tragically been killed, as will many more. However, proportionately a far greater number of armed resisters have been killed and will continue to be killed. The question is not whether thousands will continue to die but what is the best way for the Syrian people to overthrow the hated regime, end the violence and bring democracy and social justice.

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