President Obama called on Thursday for Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to step down amid the continued brutal repression of democratic activists throughout the embattled Middle East nation.
Immediately following the President’s announcement, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy echoed the call for Assad to retire and announced an expansion of economic sanctions including an embargo of Syrian crude oil imports.
Syrian activists continue to risk life-and-limb by taking part in protests calling for regime change and democratic reforms. Over 2000 protesters have been killed by Syrian government forces since the uprising began in January.
A U.N. Human Rights report released Thursday offered grisly details of the government crackdown and accused the Assad regime of possible crimes against humanity. As Reuters reported,
“Syrian forces have fired on peaceful protesters throughout the country, often at short range and without warning, killing at least 1,900 civilians, including children, the investigators said in a report to the U.N. Human Rights Council. Their wounds were “consistent with an apparent shoot-to-kill policy.” Some were reportedly finished off with knives. Security forces were alleged to have killed wounded civilians by putting them alive in refrigerators in hospital morgues, it said. Tanks, grenades, snipers, heavy machine guns and helicopters have been used in the assault aimed at quashing opposition to the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.”
So how far will the international community go to stop the killing of innocents? Where do nations draw the line on intervening into the affairs of other nations?
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast warned against Western intervention into the internal affairs of Iranian ally Syria. Mehmanparast said on Tuesday, “Western leaders, especially Americans, are used to interfering in the internal affairs of countries and using any pretext to march with their military forces and occupy the country.”
But thousands are being murdered attempting to throw off the yoke of tyranny. Should the West begin to ramp up the pressure even to the point of military intervention?
A fundamental tenet of American political philosophy is the idea that government must constantly earn its right to govern. Chief among their charge is to protect life and liberty and when a pattern of behavior repeatedly shows an opposition to these principles, the people have a right to abolish their government and form anew.
Now these ideas of self-government refer, in an insular sense, solely to the American enterprise and her citizens—and to forcefully coerce them upon other nations would violate rules of noninterference established by liberal international order; aka “Westphalian Sovereignty.”
Of course, foreign policy, international law, and one’s own philosophical beliefs are neither so easily defined, nor contained in neat compartments. History is replete with instances of moving all around the playing field, shifting roles and rules, interfering in the affairs of others whether through overt power, or through various expressions of espionage. It could even be seen that rules of international cohabitation are mere guidelines with most of history being built around the exceptions, and the passionate arguments levied to justify such “flexibility”.
The United States and Western nations have been working to undermine the criminal Assad regime through covert actions and sanctions—and now as the NATO supported actions of the anti-Gaddafi forces in Libya are taking a positive turn—the same tourniquet of human rights and dignity should be applied to the crimes against humanity being committed by the Assad regime in Syria.
Murder, mayhem, cruelty, and torture have no place in modernity—and even through the doctrine of nonviolence—it must be forcefully and violently opposed. Through its actions, the Bashar al-Assad regime has foregone any claim to legitimate authority and the assassination of the Syrian people must be halted. It’s time for the civilized world to conduct a rescue operation through defensive action against the dictatorial and murderous Assad regime.