Here’s a really, really terrible idea from two otherwise progressive thinkers: let’s use military force to aid Syria’s civilian population.
Like many liberal interventionists, often called humanitarian interventionists—in true, oxymoronic fashion—Danny Postel and Nader Hashemi believe that it’s time to invoke the “responsibility to protect” (R2P) to go into Syria with guns blazing, if need be. Writing in an op-ed in The New York Times, they say:
We should invoke the Responsibility to Protect, the principle that if a state fails to protect its populations from mass atrocities—or is in fact the perpetrator of such crimes—the international community must step in to protect the victims, with the collective use of force authorized by the Security Council. And if a multinational force cannot be assembled, then at least some countries should step up and organize Syria’s democratically oriented rebel groups to provide the necessary force on the ground, with air cover from participating nations.
Indeed, there’s a bit of a fight at the United Nations Security Council right now, with Russia and China looking askance at Western efforts to pit forward a UNSC resolution that would open the door to getting aid into Syria by force, though it doesn’t say so directly—and, if it did, it would be vetoed by Russia in a New York minute. But, in any case, the Russian and Chinese delegates stayed away from the UNSC session on the measure. Said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, according to Reuters:
Our Western partners in the Security Council…proposed that we cooperate in working out a resolution. The ideas they shared with us were absolutely one-sided and detached from reality.
Instead, Russia wants stronger efforts to support a cease-fire in Syria and to halt the delivery of arms to the Syrian rebels, part of which is the object of just-resumed peace talks in Geneva between the government of President Bashar al-Assad and the anti-Assad opposition. Not without reason, Moscow says that its military aid to Syria is legal, on a state-to-state basis, while American, Saudi and other military support to the rebels is illegal.