Intervention in Syria Is Morally Justified—and Completely Impractical

In trying to think through what outsiders should do to stop the killing in Syria, the only unambiguous issue is the moral one. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is perpetrating crimes against humanity upon his own people. The “responsibility to protect,” unanimously adopted at the U.N. in 2005, stipulates that when states fail to protect their own citizens from mass atrocities, other states have an affirmative responsibility to act. Only a gross cynic—say, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov—could argue that Assad has not triggered this international obligation. An intervention would be morally justified, just as it was in Libya.

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Feb 10, 2012
James Traub
Middle East, Syria