As you know, I am one of those conservatives who would be a libertarian if mainstream libertarians did not appear to me to be pacifists. Pacifism is immoral; it’s even more immoral than it is unpractical.
I was asked what I would propose the US should do about the on-going massacre in Syria. I answered but I don’t know what happened to my answer. It may be on Crackpot’s new blog, at http://notesonliberty.wordpress.com/. Here is my response to the question again, a little refined perhaps.
The Syrian people have been slaughtered by their own dictator and his professional army for more than three months. They use tanks on people. According to the UN, over five thousand civilians have been killed so far. Since it’s easy for a government to bury bodies and difficult for civilians to report their missing relatives in a country where the foreign press is banned, 5,000 is probably an underestimate. The population of Syria is about 25 to 30 million, less than one tenth of ours. Thus, the 5,000 Syrians killed by their government is about equivalent to 40,000 Americans.
For me, personally, the moral question about whether to intervene or not is easy: The current “President” Assad is slaughtering his people because they want representative government. (And yes, I know that “representative government” in Syria may ultimately mean “Islamist.” ) His father, from whom he inherited his fascist regime, killed Americans by proxy for thirty years. He, Assad the Younger, did the same as long as there were Americans in Iraq. It would be a pleasure to kill him. This does not mean that we should. Pleasure isn’t everything, after all.
I would begin by declaring war on the Assad regime though I don’t know how this would be done technically. Or, I would invite Mr Assad to make himself available to the International tribunal for Civil Rights in The Hague, or to any of the Belgian courts that claim universal jurisdiction. The charge would be crimes against humanity.
I would give an individual weapon and ammunition to any Syrian who asked. Right now, the armed forces and the security forces have almost all the weapons. Any additional weapon is almost certainly going to go to the opposition. When it comes to weapons, every little bit helps. Individual weapons can be distributed through Turkey and through our current friend in Lebanon, Christians and Druses. I would also provide many cheap radios.
I would then send planes to take out his tanks whenever it is easy or without danger. The more irregular the pattern, the less the pattern is a pattern, the better. You want Assad’s tankers to crap their pants at the sight of their own tanks. If possible and only if possible, I would try to increase the number of sorties to give government forces the impression that things can only become worse for them. You want to induce mass desertion or cowardice. Keep in mind that any aerial attack on Assad’s forces is better than none.
I would make back-door contact with Assad while all this is going on. I would offer him him and his extended family reasonable asylum.(I am thinking Caribbean.)
I would also make contact with the religious leaders of the large Alawite minority – who cannot all be offered asylum. They are Assad’s group. They have held high office under him and his father for forty years. They have good reasons to worry about the after-Assad. I would offer my services to help them negotiate the after-Assad with other groups. I would ask other Arab states with an army and who owe us to guarantee the agreement. Saudi Arabia and Iraq come to mind.
For libertarian purists who would argue that even those minimal efforts cost to much, I would propose that the US administration attempt to cover the costs through subscription rather than taxes. I would send a check for $100 right now to see even part of this plan implemented. At any rate, a subscription is a kind of vote, isn’t it?
How about the risk of inviting the military intervention of other countries? Russia would not risk to go to war with us on behalf of Syria because that country is just not important enough to the Russians’ game. Same, and more so, for China. Iran might try to intervene on behalf of its ally Assad and guess what I think about that possibility!
And yes, I have noticed also the silence of Israel on the Assad travails. You would think the Israelis would be overjoyed. Apparently, they are not. Wouldn’t it be a bitch if it turned out the both Assad were Mossad agents? A rumor worth spreading in any case, as part of an offensive against the Syrian fascist regime.
Our present neutrality in the Syrian conflict is disgusting, shameful. It’s a national moral failure. It reminds me of the Spanish Civil War.