Tuesday, April 10, 2012

When Policy Advocacy is Oxymoronic

I have not commented much on the Syria mess because, well, I have no solutions I can recommend.  But today's post at foreignpolicy.com about the fall of Srebenica reminds me of a basic reality: safe havens are neither safe nor havens. 

The idea of carving out space for Syrians fleeing from the repressive government is swell, except for the fact that it would require, ahem, war.  That is, NATO or someone would need to have the capability and the resolve to use said capability to defend the safe havens from Syrian attacks by air, by artillery, by infantry, by whatever.  It can be done, but would require pretty expansive rules of engagement.  NATO or mystery intervener x would have to be able to shoot down Syrian planes, fire back at Syrian artillery units, probably seize some key territories to make the safe havens defensible, and so on.  With Syria resisting, that would be war.  No more, no less.

Given that no one seems interested in this, especially since the US has already exceeded its war cap and as Syrian refugees are not flocking to the beaches of countries with politicians needing to make xenophobic appeals, safe havens or any other threat of force are not very likely.

So, what should we do?  Insert picture of shoulder shrug here.

1 comment:

Ora said...

One useful step might be for the US to put pressure on Turkey to allow monitoring groups into the refugee camps on its territory, and perhaps allow UNHCR to advocate on the refugees' behalf, although I don't recall whether Turkey is signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention (I have a feeling it isn't.) Turkey may not be too excited about becoming a de-facto base camp for the Syrian opposition, but if they end up in Lebanon instead, that's probably a much more dangerous outcome, regionally speaking. (Hizbullah, for instance, isn't likely to take that well.)