Posted by: Dr Churchill | September 1, 2013

What’s going to happen in Syria?

Small is beautiful.

What happens in Syria is going to start small.

As a matter of fact it has already got started.

Much like the new conversation that has started to occupy the world’s vernacular now.

Should we bomb or not?

Let’s not forget our responsibility to protect.

The needle has shifted to a small limited engagement.

And this is what’s going to happen after the US Congress approves the US / NATO led bombing of Syria.

This is the big question as people debate scenarios, built decision trees, and plan alternatives in the big game of chess — international diplomacy resembles…

Let’s not forget that war is also an instrument of International Diplomacy and Policy where outcomes matter far more than means to an end.

Same as Strategy trumps tactics and yet both are needed to achieve results — this humble game needs it’s own tactics informed by the wisdom of long term strategy.  So here is my take on the issue of outcomes and the Dept of Defence planners better take heed.

This civil war is certainly not black-and-white. You might think it’s the brave rebels versus the evil dictatorial regime, but that’s just part of the story. There is a lot of background to discern in the escalating conflict that is Syria. Russia will continue to block international action against it’s client state — the window for which has maybe closed anyway. The United States might try to pressure, cajole or even horse-trade Moscow into changing its mind, but there’s not much we can offer them that they care about as much as Syria.

It is a given that the US Congress will approve and recommend punitive strikes against strategically important Syrian government targets.  Short-term the United States and NATO allies launch brief strikes against Syria and these strikes will continue in the long-term as well. Things might escalate to a Libya style intervention but never to an Iraq style war footing. The Syrian military will surely get crippled and this will level the playing field between Assad and his opponents thus giving the rebels a chance to regain lost ground and fight on with a certain chance of success.

The fratricidal killing and the civil war will continue, probably for a few more months. At some point the conflict will cool, either from a partial victory or from exhaustion. There’s no one single entity to sign a peace treaty on the rebel side, even if the Assad regime were highly motivated, and therefore there’s no foreseeable clear settlement. Refugees will continue fleeing into neighboring countries, causing instability and rolling humanitarian crises. This will worsen and motivate the International community to act, as the murderous regime resorts to it’s basic policy of wholesale murder, and the terrible conditions in the refugee camps worsen. When the Syrian refugee children start showing up crippled and maimed in the European countries — because the mayhem continues — the sympathy and compassion factor will kick in.

The UN Security Council will approve action against Assad, same as NATO, UK, France and allies. Advisors and military assistance will flow into the rebels. The collapse of the Syrian Assad regime is now a given.  A leading council of the FSA will emerge that will take control of the Syrian society when Assad and his cronies are removed. The UN world will send in some peacekeepers and even broker a fragile peace between the various ethnic, religious and political factions. Probably the best model is Lebanon, which fought a brutal civil war that lasted 15 years from 1975 to 1990 and has been slowly recovering ever since.

The new Syrian governing Council will place controls on all weapons and will demilitarize the Syrian society. The Russian naval base will be removed and Syria as we know it, an ancient place with a rich and celebrated culture and history, will go through convulsions to built a new state. From a broken, failed society, probably for a few years — a new Syrian state and democratic society will emerge.

It’s very hard to see now how you can rebuild a functioning state after this amount of violence but this will inevitably happen. And although it’s hard to see how you get back to a working social contract where everyone agrees to get along, because this civil war is all pervasive along ethnic, social, religious and tribal lines — but this will happen in time.

Patience and consistency is required.

Victories against Evil are born small…

Much like everything else,

From a tiny acorn — you get a huge Oak tree.




Good luck and God Speed to all of us.

Especially for the Syrian children for whom this brighter democratic future needs to be created.


The responsibility to protect (R2P or RtoP) is a United Nations initiative established in 2005. It consists of an emerging intended norm, or set of principles, based on the claim that sovereignty is not a right, but a responsibility. R2P focuses on preventing and halting four crimes: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing, which it places under the generic umbrella term of mass atrocity crimes.

These United States is the leading signatory of the R2P Accord…

Let’s live up to our word through deeds.

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