By Sam Fisk – Liberal Youth International Officer
International interventionism and its timing have become a central debate in recent times. Whether it is lack of action in Rwanda to the ever controversial Iraq war there is clearly little consensus. However recent events in Syria have shown the time to act is now.
Of course it is not worth going into why Assad is a dictator and that the world will be a better place without him, but the number of casualties must be reiterated. Since the first peaceful anti-government march the death toll now stands at 10,000 according to UN figures. The disproportionate government reaction to protests in itself was enough to cause outrage, but prolonged killing of innocent women and children is not something to look away from.
These ghastly events include women and children being shot at random, with children especially targeted, being tortured and used as human shields. Is this something we should stand idly by and watch happen?
We cannot go around intervening in every country where we see miss-justice, but this has gone far beyond that. Mass killings with total disregard for civilians are an act against humanity. The Annan plan and attempts to use a cease fire were the right course of action, there is little consensus in interventionism but the idea we use peaceful means first is agreed by many. Yet we must now recognise that a cease fire has failed and that it is clear Assad’s intentions are not to stop until he once again has complete control over the country. Annan himself has said the reason his cease fire failed was because of Annan’s unwillingness to keep to it. There should be a punishment for those not recognising peaceful attempts to solve conflict.
An argument against intervening is to point out we don’t know how long it will take, yet If we wait the answer still remains as to the length of time this conflict will last. Assad and rebels seem set for a long and bloody battle and the prolonged killings indicate neither side are about to give up. Intervention done correctly seems to set to end this much faster than a long arduous civil war. If the massacre of Houla and the failure of a cease fire do not count as a pivotal point then what does? If mass killings of innocent women and children do not warrant action then indeed we should sit back and watch crimes against humanity take place.
We should not be quick to make comparison to Libya. There is no set formula to intervening and the same method that proved successful there should not necessarily be applied in this instant. As I am sadly not privy to military intelligence I cannot go into too much detail as to how we should intervene. Though knowing that airstrikes would stop the constant bombardment of civilian areas and that a ground effort to establish the evacuation of civilians is necessary and possible we should use such methods.
I never want to see in my lifetime the mistakes of the past made again on interventionism. I don’t want it to be used for a proxy war like Iraq and I don’t wish to see mass genocide in Rwanda happen as we watch on. The UN know there are killings, they hear the stories and the media report it. I don’t feel comfortable knowing people who strive for the same values we hold so closely are brutally dealt with by a Dictator the world condemns. Peaceful methods have failed to protect civilians against an evil dictator. We are left with a choice: watch this bloody conflict unfold or step in. I for one don’t want another day of torture and killings and call on the UN to step in.