I am listening to a Q and A session with a panel of experts on National Public Radio. It’s about beating up Assad (not “Syria”). Soon, it becomes obvious that the callers don’t have dimensions, calibers in mind. They don’t seem to have looked up Syria at all. (I should have guessed; I used to be a teacher.) They don’t realize that Syria is a small underdeveloped country. They overestimate how tough a nut it would be to crack. I mean if the US only tried to crack it and not to eat it.
Here are the basic facts about Syria. I found them through judicious, learned, highly specialized research on Wikipedia.
Population: 22,5 million. That’s about one fifth of the population size of Mexico.
Gross Domestic Product per capita: $5,100. That’s about one third of the Mexican GDP per capita.
Technical note: GDP per capita is a common measure of a country’s earnings divided by its population size. It’s good enough for my rough comparison purposes. This one is measured in such a way – “purchasing power parity” – that comparison with other countries’ GDPs per capita are meaningful even if not perfect.
As usual when there are crises in that part of the world, many people are worried about disruptions of oil exports. Well, Syria is one of those few Arab countries Allah slighted. It has little oil. Its oil exports are to Mexico’s oil exports like 6 is to 300. It’s not nothing but it’s close. More military action in that part of the world could indirectly disrupt oil flows from other countries. I don’t think so given the kind of action anticipated by the Obama administration. Qatar and Saudi Arabia – both of which want the US to intervene – can easily pump more oil than they currently do to make up for any shortfall.
In view of these facts, if you are against an American military intervention, it should not be on the ground that Syria is a fearsome power. The ground should be that it’s unfair to beat on a little guy, on less than half of a little guy in this case. Next step is to argue that of course, Assad has to use nerve gas against some on his citizens of all ages because he is weak and powerless leader of a small and poor country. Poor guy!