Could War Against Syria Destroy More People Than It Saves
The facts are clearly yes, to gain two reasons.
The primary is that our bombs will kill people. The United States can do well everything it may well to reduce civilian casualties, of course. But Syrian President Bashar al-Assad won't. As James Fearon writes, "rest assured that an Assad regime will carry out what it may possibly to ensure it is so attacks do kill, or reach kill, a number of civilians."
To prevent attack we're punishing is believed to generate killed about 1,400 people: It won't take all lots of ill-targeted explosives plea that death toll.
One other - and doubtless larger - worry is that many bombs will lead the Syrian government to kill more people. That's the implication of this approach 2012 paper by Reed Wood, Jason Kathman, and Stephen Gent (which I found via Erica Chenoweth).
The authors checked out a range of conflicts from 1989 to 2005 and found that when outside governments intervene with rebel forces, the federal government's killing of civilians increased by 40 percent. The reason, basically, must be as the government fears it's losing handle of the conflict, it becomes more desperate a lot more ferocious a lot more lethal. The authors conclude (italics mine):
Supporting a faction's quest to vanquish its adversary may hold the unintended consequence of inciting the adversary to a lot more powerful violence the particular population. Thus, other people with interests in stability should bear in mind any potential for our costly primitive countering murderous groups. Potential interveners should heed these conclusions when designing intervention strategies and tailor their interventions to incorporate components specifically invented to protect civilians from reprisals. Such strategies may include stationing forces within vulnerable population centers, temporarily relocating susceptible populations to safe havens that are certainly more distant off of the conflict zone, and supplying sufficient ground forces it really does not have to be per such policies. These actions could fulfill broader interests in societal stability along with interests in countering an organization on geopolitical grounds. Successful policies will thus aside from that counter murderous factions but it will explicitly seek to protect civilian populations.
Those protective interventions are notable merely read like a buildup things the United States is clearly and public saying it will not do. But meaning we're considering intervening in Syria's conflict in a manner that we all know apt produce a murderous response from the government that we are not usually not stop.
The United States that has been very clear that this is not a goal to save civilian lives. It'is a really goal to enforce international norms your taking chemical weapons. Instead of protecting civilians that ranges from killed, we are attempting to alter Assad's plethora weaponry when he kills them. It's entirely plausible that Assad could heed our message to stop it killing civilians with chemical weapons whilst he heeds his incentives to retain advantages and benefits of the conflict by mounting his slaughter of civilians through more conventional means. That will, on some perverse level, may be a "success" given the main objective of the policy, but it is really an awful failure when purchasing a humanitarian level.
Of course, as Charli Carpenter has written, this is not a humanitarian intervention, and Secretary of State John F. Kerry has very clearly relinquished calling it a humanitarian intervention. There presently's the awful chance that it may become an anti-humanitarian intervention.
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