May 31st, 2012
11:59 AM ET

The case against intervention in Syria

Watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS" Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET.

In Syria, the brutal regime of Bashar Assad is testing the proposition that repression works. The massacre of civilians in Houla is only the latest example of what appears to be a strategy of making no concessions and using maximum force. To the Assad regime's way of thinking, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak and Libya's Muammar Gaddafi erred by hesitating, emboldening the opposition and sowing doubts among their supporters. So far, Assad's strategy has worked. Kofi Annan's mission, which appears to be based on the idea that Assad will negotiate his own departure, seems utterly doomed. The U.S., the Western world, indeed the civilized world, should attempt instead to dislodge the Assad regime. Is there a smart way to do it?

Watch more in the video above, read more from Fareed Zakaria at TIME and check out past TIME columns

Topics: Syria • Time Magazine

soundoff (357 Responses)
  1. HTz

    if assad falls extremist muslims will take over and it will be worse i think the us should stay out of this one.

    June 4, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Reply
  2. Tony

    The U.S Against the Syrian people. America doesnt want freedom for the Syrian people .

    June 4, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Reply
  3. Bob

    I see people throwing down the "lets send in the troops" card like it was just that simple. Look the government in Syria knows how the game is playing out. Nato just finished Libya, and Europe is more concerned about the zone going into the toilet than some 3rd world country with nothing to bring to the table. America wont jump in because it's an election year and Obama really needs that "we left Iraq" card or else he's gonna lose.

    Frankly no one with the means cares, and the the ones who care don't have the means. The issue will either be solved by the Syrians themselves, or will just spill out into another Iraq. Either way, it isn't the United States's problem, and I'm not for sending my loved ones to deal with it. Granted I'm not opposed to giving the opposition some tools to actually help them stand a chance...a great deal cheaper and more effective than sending over a Marine division.

    June 4, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Reply
    • ivanov_su

      Bob. I assume you won't object if others will send Assad some tools to deal with tools you suggesting to send?

      PS. BTW I'm still wondering where is Iraq's WMDs?

      June 4, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Reply
  4. Tony

    American Empire is over. Now, Russia and China rule the world. Bye Bye America!

    June 4, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Reply
  5. ivanov_su

    Relax guys. You simply don't have money "to bring freedom and democracy to the world".

    PS. Should I mention nobody is asking you to do so. Who the hack are you to teach the world?

    June 4, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Reply
  6. gerald

    If the Muslum countries are not helping then why should we? How is it our job?

    June 4, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Reply
  7. emad

    Syria can only hold few month more before it breaks to pieces by huge civil war..which will involve all the Syrian and Lebanese.

    June 4, 2012 at 10:33 pm | Reply
  8. Steve

    It would only take one bullet.

    June 4, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Reply
  9. kolo

    The level of brainwashness of Americans will never seize to amaze me. They blame evil Muslims for terrorism, but they never ask simple questions like "Why were there virtually no attacks on Americans before their series of aggressive wars in the Middle East?", "Why aren't there any terrorist attacks on Canadians?". Simple answers to simple questions will clearly show that the problem is not Muslims, but rather aggressive foreign policies of USA.

    June 5, 2012 at 12:49 am | Reply
  10. Alex

    this smart ass Zakaria he might be right but Russia and Iran , US's enemies, already helping the Syrian government This should be an incentive for the US and the western world to help the Rebels and wonder what branch of Islam Zakaria follows?

    June 5, 2012 at 12:52 am | Reply
    • Jim

      God, YES! We need another war, lest the world start to think we've been overrun with peace!

      June 5, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Reply
  11. Carl

    There's a disconnect between American public opinion and reality. What is happening is Syria has nothing to do with the "brutality" of the Assad regime. Aren't Iraq, Lybia, Egypt just not enough for you people to understand that there is a mighty force behind all this at work? And that it doesn't have anything to do with "democracy" or Obama? This force is bringing the world to turmoil by funding terrorists and destabilizing Arab countries. And then it asks the US to sacrifice its sons and daughters in the name of "peace". The official news carries little truth – more lies. Read alternative sources. Or you will be duped for ever.

    June 5, 2012 at 2:01 am | Reply
  12. mmi16

    There is no group that is in a position to assume leadership and control in Syria once Assad is gone. Taking Assad out would create another Iraq after Saadam. The Syrin opposition needs to unify itself into something that can assert a level of control in the struggle against Assad.

    June 5, 2012 at 5:41 am | Reply
  13. Jack

    Mr Zakaria puts forward a good case with the best possible intentions, but like the Annan plan, there's numerous faults. 1. For sanctions to work will require that everyone enforces them, which clearly Russia and Iran have already shown that they have no intention of doing. 2. The Annan plan was flawed as its assumed that Assad would obey it, he will not. He's a Nazi dictator murdering the population to keep power. The Houla atrocity presents us with a very clear right and wrong. To now continue to do nothing to help these people is clearly wrong. 3. Comparisons with Libya and the (successful) strategy there aren't that helpful. Yes, Syria is smaller and more densely populated, but if we look where the rebels are holding ground, Idlib province, Rastan, Deraa, Homs, Hama, Aleppo, suburbs of Damascus these are all close to a border and with military support would give territory that can be defended such as happened with Benghazi. A buffer zone/ humanitarian corridor could be established up to these areas so as to give civilians a safe haven to go to and as a base for the FSA. With so many defended buffer zones/ safe havens and a with a heavily armed FSA , plus with aerial support, the regime would have to divide up its forces and would not last long, plus it would be limited in its ability to commit further atrocities. I don't buy the inevitabililty of it descending into a sectarian conflict either. The FSA and the protestors have consistently denounced this. However, if these people are left to defend themselves with hardly any weapons then, yes, there will be a protracted civil war, which is why we ( the West) should move to intervene quickly.

    June 5, 2012 at 6:34 am | Reply
    • kolo

      Wow, you are something... you shine even between the most brainwashed folks out there. Talking nonsense with such a rare assuredness is a clear sign of schizophrenia. Instead of your arbitrary assumptions, you can base upon historical facts. For instance in Libya, that you mention, the number of victims before the NATO intervention was about 2000 (for several years), after – 50 000 (for several months). Please, do not offer any more ridiculous plans here, leave this job for professionals, like Mr Zacharia.

      June 5, 2012 at 7:11 am | Reply
    • Tony

      Agreed . But the Obama administration wants to destroy the Syrian by army – Assad . Our allies in the Middle East have become disgusted feel of our policy Aggressive against the Syrian people .

      June 5, 2012 at 8:11 am | Reply
  14. sam kohen

    I noticed President Assad Sunday addressing the recently elected Parliament. Can anyone tell me what were the results of that election?

    June 5, 2012 at 6:35 am | Reply
    • .

      Sure can! Assad won! It was a landslide. As a matter of fact, everybody voted for Assad.

      That's what the Democrats would call brining people together.

      They'd do it just like Assad - if they only could.

      But they can't.

      June 5, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Reply
  15. Cyric

    Bomb em, we should bomb all murderous leaders. Next Zimbabwe and lets then go from there.

    June 5, 2012 at 6:40 am | Reply
  16. Tony

    Fareed Zakaria explains why the world shouldn't intervene militarily in Syria ?
    Because the U.S want a civil war in Syria. No need for excuses. The U.S. administration is evil. Should be on the U.S administration to allow for other countries like Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia to defend the rebels themselves. Administration does not want to intervene militarily and prevent other countries from arming rebels. This means that the U.S. does not want freedom for the Syrian people. Shame on us. Why take advantage of the killing of the Syrian people. Bombing by B-52 aircraft for a period of one week is enough to destroy the army of al-Assad, and to stop the massacres.

    June 5, 2012 at 7:44 am | Reply
    • .

      If it were only that easy, Tony. But it's not.

      We've wasted enough young lives and treasure on the Rabs.

      June 5, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Reply
  17. Tony

    We will intervene militarily if Assad attack Israel . But should not we care for the massacres in Syria by the Assad regime. Let the Assad regime slaughter children by knives. President Obama is weak president in U.S. history.

    June 5, 2012 at 7:55 am | Reply
  18. karlbaba

    The real reason Assad is allowed to stay is because Syria without Assad would be more hostile to Israel. Assad plays the game and will only be forced out soon because it's become totally untenable to stay

    June 5, 2012 at 9:10 am | Reply
  19. WWRRD

    Asaad is no longer thinking of retaining power. He is afraid. He is thinking of his own survival. He will be held accountable and will either go to prison or be killed if he loses his grip. Only if he is garunteed safety for him and his family will he leave, and if he doesn;t believe he will be safe he won't go.

    June 5, 2012 at 9:28 am | Reply
  20. History Bear

    Why should the US spend it's money and man power to fix a problem that is Syria's. Anything we do or don't do is going to get people bad mouthing us and attacking our embassies etc. So let them settle their own problems. No arms, no troops, no airpower. It's not our problem. And yes it's a tradgey that those kids were killed, but if their parents hadn't been door mats for Assad and his goons for so long..........

    June 5, 2012 at 11:00 am | Reply
  21. andreww204

    Reblogged this on The Global Drift and commented:
    I find global politics, especially within the middle-east, fascinating. Syria has been one issue in the global arena that I have found particularly conflicting. A brutal authoritarian regime has repeatedly crushed its own people through massacre and by deprivation of any kind of normal human dignity. So why haven't western powers stepped in???

    June 5, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Reply
  22. leonard

    When we intervene in Lybia, the President made a big deal of saying it was for "humanitarian reasons" to pre-empt a catastrphie. CNN gave this its explicit approval with all their inferior reporting pretty much orchestrated by David Axerod. Now what is different here. Are not hundreds, no thousands of innocents being slughtered daily. This is obviously a political decision by the President not to intervene & Cnn should be charged as being culpable in the deaths of innocent civilians by caving into liberal doublespeak rather than doing your jobs..

    June 5, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Reply
  23. J.T

    The big picture is Syrian regime is part of Iran regime group so you can put pressure on other parts to consider helping themselves rather than Alassad, This step along with improve the opposition legal power. Then there will be a better position for negotiation.
    For the first point hezbollah a strong ally for Iran has illegal weapon in lebanon and can be classified as terrorist organization so if you can move this card in the UN and security council, and there is al-malike in Iraq who is making a new dictatorship in Iraq you can put pressure on him to resign from his position -most of Iraq parties want him to resign-.
    As for the second part you can declare the Free syrian army as legal armed opposition .

    June 5, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Reply
  24. Avgprsn

    I think in this situation that obviously concerns a very large civilian and ethnic population, that the Arab League should be empowered to voice their will for the populace.
    With their decisions and actions to the forefront, we as free citizens of the civilized world would lose nothing but gain self dignity in supporting their moral obligations to people very closely cared for in a regional responsibility.
    The hope and strength in that scenario is the removal of a sadistic dictator whom has killed too many children.
    How else can it be seen?

    June 5, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Reply
  25. Nicole

    Your phrase: "The US, the Western world, indeed the civilized world..." is insulting to the rest of the world including China and your own India!

    June 5, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Reply
    • .

      Tell me, Nicole... what was civilized about Tianamen Square?

      I guess it's okay to machine gun your own people in the name of socialism.

      Well... isn't it?

      June 5, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Reply
  26. .

    US stay out of Syria. We've wasted enough young lives and treasure trying to civilize the Arab mentality. They don't understand democracy. They only understand the likes of Assad, Saddam, and the Moslem Brotherhood.

    As long as they keep the killing on their lands and off of ours.

    June 5, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Reply
  27. Abbey

    What I don't understand is the naitivety the citizens of these western nations have. I feel as if they have amnesia or something. Sure I understand the killings of innocent people by a brutal regime. Also, I understand we shouldn't be the world's police force. Especially the latter, we need to be more focused at home here in America. We have our own crisis in terms of the economy and jobs, which if not addressed and fixed very soon, will bring upon our own humanitarian crisis. In fact, it's slowly unfolding in front of our eyes everyday.

    Also, it is in the interests of the war lobbyist to have these conflicts take place in the Arab world as well as Africa. Even Mitt Romney himself said during one of the debates a few months ago that we currently have "covert operations" in Syria to dismantle the Assad Regime. This basically means we are trying to sow conflict day by day so that ultimately you get sides fighting, therefore leading to a mess like this, then leading to what we are discussing now, whether we should intervene militarily or not.

    Many say we shouldn't stand silently and turn a blind eye to the killings over there, but what about Bahrain??? It's all about the control of the media and what they want the public around the world to see. They have done a great job on supressing the news in Bahrain. We are top allies with Saudi Arabia, a nation that tops the list of human rights abuse. Bottom line is, let the Arab Nations handle their Arab neighbors problems and let's handle our own problems.

    June 7, 2012 at 10:21 am | Reply
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