90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Shadi Hamid And Joshua Landis On Intervention In Syria

We talked about the possibility of U.S. intervention in Syria today, with Shadi Hamid — director of research at the Brookings Doha Center — and Joshua Landis — director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

Hamid said that U.S. leadership was required.

America is not a normal country like everyone else.  Not to go too much into exceptionalist territory here, but the world, including Syrians, still look to the U.S. for moral and political leadership in their time of need. We saw the same thing in Libya, they were literally begging for the U.S. to get involved, saying: we need your help, yes we have some differences, we don’t like US foreign policy on other things, but the U.S. is the only country that has the capability to stop this slaughter. And that’s the bottom line. So when people say, why doesn’t the Arab league do something, or Saudi Arabia? or Turkey? The answer is pretty simple: because they can’t do it on their own, they need U.S. military support to bring the regime down.

Landis urged caution, and stressed that it wasn’t clear that establishing a no-fly zone earlier in the conflict would have helped.

It just raises the question: can we, can an outside power solve a civil war in a country? Every country has gone through a terribly bloody civil war. And I don’t know how we can stop Syria from going through this. This is where Shadi and I disagree profoundly. He things that a no-fly zone would have stopped Al-Qaeda from getting into Syria. I don’t think so. Al-Qaeda is going to get in there. There is not a clear Syrian leadership. The Syrian Opposition that America supports has had three presidents in the last two weeks – they keep on changing.

Listen here to a segment of the show where Landis and Hamid discuss the stakes of intervention:

Transcript:

LANDIS: Well it’s true that our red line has now moved. That of course makes you look weak. If we go in and invade Syria and destroy their military, we’re not going to make any friends in the Middle East. we’ve done this several times before and our ratings are at an all-time low. We’re not going to be loved in the Middle East for what we do in Syria. The Syrians ultimately have to figure this out. In America during our civil war 750,000 people were killed. We were only 34 million people in 1860. Syria is 23 million people. 100,000 have been killed. As America looking back on it today, I think very few Americans would have wanted an outside power to intervene in the United States and to keep Americans from killing each other in such massive numbers.

It’s not to say – it just raises the question, can we, can an outside power solve a civil war in a country. Every country has gone through a terribly bloody civil war. And I don’t know how we can stop Syria from going through this. This is where Shadi and I disagree profoundly. He things that a no fly zone would have stopped Al-Qaeda from getting into Syria, I don’t think so, Al-Qaeda is going to get in there. There is not a clear Syrian leadership. The Syrian Opposition that America supports has had three presidents in the last two weeks – they keep on changing.

JANE: Shadi, jump in here.

HAMID: Yeah, the bigger issue here is American credibility not just amongst Syrians but Arabs across the region. We’ve essentially sent them the message that there’s been an Arab Spring, but it’s business as usual. The U.S. only cares about a very narrow set of security interests we care about. Maybe chemical weapons or Iran, but when it comes to 100,000 Arabs being killed we will not act.

The Arab spring was supposed to force us as Americans to fundamentally reassess the way we look at the region – we have been supporting dictatorships for decades. And being part, playing a role in the destruction of the region. Now we have a change to get it right. So I think a lot of Syrians and Arabs are looking and saying: what’s going on here? And I would just disagree with Josh’s point on one thing. In Libya. Libya is the only country in the Arab world where the US has a high favorability ratings. Why?  It’s because we were on their side when they were suffering and we supported their struggle against Kaddafi in 2011. So things like this do make a difference and Syrians too will remember who was by their side. What I am hearing from Syrians now is anti-Americanism, that the U.S. is actually trying to hurt Syria and prevent them from moving forward, because they say if the U.S. had wanted to act they could have, but they haven’t.

 

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Mar 27, 2015
Rescue workers work on debris of the Germanwings jet at the crash site near Seyne-les-Alpes, France, Thursday, March 26, 2015. The co-pilot of the Germanwings jet barricaded himself in the cockpit and “intentionally” rammed the plane full speed into the French Alps, ignoring the captain’s frantic pounding on the cockpit door and the screams of terror from passengers, a prosecutor said Thursday. (AP)

The co-pilot and the plane in the Alps? Ted Cruz announces 2016 bid. Heinz buys Kraft. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Mar 27, 2015
Members of  a November Project 'tribe' pause during a November 2014 workout. (Brogan Graham / Instagram)

Spring training. From easy-access yoga to outdoor exercise meet-ups, exercise plans you’ll want to do.

RECENT
SHOWS
Mar 26, 2015
A child walks through a forest landscape. (Rudolf Vlček / Flickr)

American kids today spend only four to seven minutes a day playing outdoors. We hear a new call to raise the “wild child.”

 
Mar 26, 2015
In this file photo, protesters sit at the intersection of Wall St. and Broad St. in New York, Monday, Sept. 22, 2014. The protesters, many who were affiliated with Occupy Wall Street, were trying to draw attention to the connection between capitalism and environmental destruction. (AP)

In our age of hyper-inequality, historian Steve Fraser asks when the little guy stands up and says “enough.” He’s with us.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Mobile Payments Offer Convenience If You Keep Your Email Safe
Thursday, Mar 26, 2015

Thinking about moving your wallet to your phone? You can! And maybe you should? But TechCrunch senior writer Josh Constine has a few things to tell you before you do.

More »
Comment
 
Using Technology To Get Your Kids Outside
Thursday, Mar 26, 2015

The latest and greatest — using apps to make natural exploration more fun for your kids.

More »
Comment
 
Week In The Web: March 20, 2015
Friday, Mar 20, 2015

The emailed comments question continues to haunt us, we shake off / salute our haters and CNN Politics spends way too much time on FinalCut (in a good way!).

More »
Comment