May 2nd, 2013
11:44 AM ET

With or Without Us

The assumption that American intervention could mitigate Syria's carnage is flawed

By Fareed Zakaria

Those urging the U.S. to intervene in Syria are certain of one thing: If we had intervened sooner, things would be better in that war-torn country. Had the Obama Administration gotten involved earlier, there would be less instability and fewer killings. We would not be seeing, in John McCain's words of April 28, "atrocities that are on a scale that we have not seen in a long, long time."

In fact, we have seen atrocities much worse than those in Syria very recently, in Iraq under U.S. occupation only few years ago. From 2003 to 2012, despite there being as many as 180,000 American and allied troops in Iraq, somewhere between 150,000 and 300,000 Iraqi civilians died and about 1.5 million fled the country. Jihadi groups flourished in Iraq, and al-Qaeda had a huge presence there. The U.S. was about as actively engaged in Iraq as is possible, and yet more terrible things happened there than in Syria. Why?


Read my full column over at TIME

Topics: Syria • Time

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soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Quigley

    Wrong, wrong and wrong, Fareed! We have and never had any right to butt into Syria! If you want foreign intervention there, then let the French do it. They have their army, navy and air force. Besides, they already occupied that country from 1919 to 1941 so let them do it again and leave us out of it!

    May 2, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Reply
    • deep blue

      Read the article. Zakaria said military intervention is a bad idea.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Reply
      • j. von hettlingen

        True, military Intervention is a bad idea. Yet the conflict in Syria can't be contained. The spillover effect is felt across the region.

        May 3, 2013 at 7:12 am |
      • j. von hettlingen

        Fareed, why can't we advocate for reshaping the Middle East? The Sykes-Picot Agreement (named after the two negotiators, the French Georges Picot and the Brit Mark Sykes) was a secret understanding made between France and Britain in 1916 for the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire. It led to the division of Turkish-held areas of the Levant into various French and British administered territories which eventually gave rise to the modern-day states of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and ultimately Israel. It carved up the Middle East along lines that barely recognised realities and relationships on the ground. This is the root of all evil and a Yugoslavian style breakup might solve the problems in long-term.

        May 3, 2013 at 7:22 am |
    • Quigley

      My apologies to you Fareed and to others here. I misread the article above and found that only those who keep on screaming for U.S. intervention in Syria are wrong.

      May 4, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Reply
  2. JAL

    This matter can be fixed very quickly in my opinion. Work quickly and effectively with the Libyan government to begin moving economic/financial infrastructure to Libya. This is about JOBS. Show the Arab Spring participants that this is about creating financial stability in the region through partnerships as an intermediary to then begin the real fight against poverty, which resides in Africa. That is where we need to be focusing our efforts. #fartingaround

    May 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Reply
    • JAL

      Uncertainty can be painful sometimes. Uncertainty can be a good thing though, because certainty is usually coupled to bad planning and failure, when delving into the big wheel topics. We are stumbling into string theory again! lol

      May 2, 2013 at 8:39 pm | Reply
      • JAL

        I will go even a step further, by stating that without the Arab Spring, future widespread war and chaos in the Middle East is absolutely certain. The Arab Spring, at its very least, makes that war and chaos uncertain. Give yourselves some credit and take solace in the uncertainty as progress. #giterdone

        May 2, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
      • JAL

        US unemployment fell to 7.5% today. That is a step in the right direction. We are not done yet. Goal is 6.5% and we can get there by the end of summer easily.

        May 3, 2013 at 8:35 am |
  3. sand

    i think that USA should go and intervene in Spain, Spain has a unemployment of 27.2% so there is enormous human suffering in Spain right now the Spanish government is suppressing its people and there basic needs so military intervention is needed.

    May 2, 2013 at 2:56 pm | Reply
    • deep blue

      The Spanish government has not deployed weapons of mass destruction against the people.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:01 pm | Reply
    • Karl

      Better yet sand, Spain should pull out of both the Eurozone and NATO! Until that happens, things there will only deteriorate even further! Moreover, they should never let U.S. or any other foreign troops in.

      May 3, 2013 at 7:42 pm | Reply
  4. rightospeak

    In Syria we can see a powerful propaganda complain of meddling in internal affairs of a sovereign nation . What it is , is a proxy war that we are loosing and the media run by our oligarchs desperately try to demonize Assad. They want his water and the Russian base out , but tell us another story similar to the llie that got us into Iraq.
    The oligarchs in the EU are strangling the people of Greece , Spain, Portugal and Italy but nothing is being said in the media except propaganda. Assad is a socialist and we like dictators that just enrich themselves.
    Military intervention idea is INSANITY. We are still behind on War Crime reporting by our media.

    May 3, 2013 at 10:13 pm | Reply
  5. we all will vote republican next time as OBAMA is scared to do any thing with evil iranians and syria

    USA AND THE FREE WORLD MUST ACT NOW AND GET RED OF BASHAR AL KALB he killed more than 11000 civilians women children sunni kurds and christeans who oppose him , he is a puppet of iran and the terrorists from hizboallah and the terrorists from shiia iraqi hizboaldawa , mahdi armi and qodos army , those killers are worse than HITLER ....we must get red of them before it is to late..let Israel attack hizboallah and let turkey attack syria and usa should take of the command and control and destroy iran. we will vote republicans to see the demise of the persian empire in iran and syria

    May 4, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Reply
    • Quigley

      This is undoubtedly the most ignorant post I ever read here. These ignorant warmongers like the one above are the biggest enemy this country faces! Just as Hitler and the Nazis were for Germany! The joker who posted the above must be a Tea Partier!

      May 4, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Reply

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