The Instigator
ConservativePolitico
Pro (for)
Winning
6 Points
The Contender
YYW
Con (against)
Losing
3 Points

Foreign Powers Should Not Intervene in Syria's Civil War

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
ConservativePolitico
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/6/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,563 times Debate No: 35349
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
Votes (3)

 

ConservativePolitico

Pro

Welcome to this debate between the esteemed YYW and myself, ConservativePolitico.

First round is for acceptance only.
Four rounds.
1 week to vote.
8k character limit.

Foreign powers will include any sovereign group or nation outside of Syria's border.

Intervene will mean any action that will influence the course of the conflict going on in Syria.

Syria's Civil War refers to the ongoing conflict between rebel groups and the Assad government in the borders of Syria.

If YYW accepts this debate he agrees to these definitions and terms.

Good luck!
YYW

Con

I stipulate only that:

Foreign powers shall include both state and non-state actors.
"Esteemed" might be a little bit much... lol
Arguments to begin in next round.

Many thanks to CP for this debate.

Peace out.
Debate Round No. 1
ConservativePolitico

Pro

I am going to focus my debate around four key points that I believe will make it tough to argue for foreign intervention.

1. National Sovereignty

A very key factor in our global system is the idea of national sovereignty, or that countries have a right to govern themselves within their recognized borders without interference from outside forces. If we look at the Syrian conflict from the perspective of someone merely concerned with national sovereignty we see that there is no right for any foreign power to intervene here in this conflict. What we see is two sides, a government entrenched and defending itself and an unhappy population trying to rebel and establish their own government. This is clearly a Syrian problem. Assad obviously has supporters and a means to fight and so do the rebels or else there would be no conflict at all. So what foreign organization has the gall to say that they have a right to intervene? This is a struggle between people and we have no right to pick sides.

Some people will argue that there are certain situations where national sovereignty should be violated usually in the battle cry of human rights. But I will go on to show how this situation is not one of those cases and how national sovereignty should be respected in this instance at all times.

2. Human Rights and Picking Sides

First of all, this conflict is not an issue of human rights. There is no widespread removal of people's rights going on, unless you want to affirm that all people have a right not to be at war (but that is a separate debate). These people are stuck in the middle of a conflict but we have no right to intervene in said conflict. No rights are being violated. The only (hesitant) right that might be in jeopardy is the right for civilians not to be targeted during wartime. But the firmness of this right and the organizations that uphold it are in question here. The conflict itself, has no right to be touched. If you intervene in an inherently political conflict you would have to pick a side to win in order to stop the killing. But picking a political winner in the name of stopping death sounds silly at best and dangerous at worst. So one cannot use human rights as a rallying cry for intervention in this case, it just doesn't work.

Secondly, say even if we do claim that a civilian's right not to be targeted during wartime is being violated, both sides are violating the right. So how do we pick sides? Do we say that one side has done less of the violating than the other and in the process support a group that violated human rights? Or do we stay out of it?

With national sovereignty at the forefront, a group would have to have a very compelling argument to violate said sovereignty but if we look at the two sides of the Syrian conflict there is none. Both the rebels and the Assad regime have been accused of and verified of using chemical weapons against each other. [1][2] The rebels have been accused of associating with terror groups, being anti-Christian and targeting civilians. [3] Looking at this debate using the upheld norm of national sovereignty while stripping away political bias such as the US's foolish habit of jumping at the sound of the word "freedom" no matter who utters it and Russia's oil-ally in Assad we see a conflict in which both sides are accused of violating UN charters, human rights and perceived wartime norms. In order to intervene in the war, you have to pick sides but I see no grounds for anyone to pick sides. National sovereignty must be respected.

3. Stability, Freedom and Unpredictability

Let's look at the other major point that one could argue in favor of intervention: promoting stability or promoting freedom. Again, I would argue that neither of these things are powerful enough to outweigh national sovereignty but lets humor them nevertheless. First of all, I want to point out that we do not have the ability to see the future. As many students of history will be apt to point out, intervention in conflicts by powers usually does not have the intended consequences. We have no way of seeing if our actions will actually produce good. We can only speculate.

Intervening in a conflict actually undermines stability. Say we let the Syrian civil war play out to its own ends. The side that has the most means to win and will to fight will naturally emerge victorious and are therefore assumed to have been in a stronger position. Thus the stronger position will reassume control of the country and will be the most stable. If we intervene however, and promote a group that does not have the means and capability to win and govern a nation then we will create less stability than would have occurred naturally and could very easily lead to instability. If we look at Libya, we put a group in very ill equipped to lead a country and now the capitol is being run by militias. [4]

Same thing with freedom. Without foreknowledge of an event's certainty we cannot in good faith promote freedom because we don't know if promoting freedom will even create freedom. Take Egypt for an example, the US provided moral support and information to the uprising to promote "freedom" but now the country has ousted its democratically elected president (who was accused of hoarding power) in favor of a military technocracy. Was freedom promoted? Will it stick? We don't know and if it doesn't stick we intervened for nothing.

This example can be applied to Syria, if freedom or stability do not come to fruition we violated, killed and intervened for nothing which should then be considered a tragedy.

4. Intervention in War

My last point is relatively simple, in order to intervene in war one must usually use force. Given the aforementioned points I see no right for a foreign power to use force to kill or destroy anything on either side. Neither side has a moral high ground and intervening might not bring about the desired results. By adding more war into a war, we run the risk or prolonging the conflict (by denying one side a victory) or racking up casualties to ensure a victory for a chosen side. There are no grounds to do either of these things as I have shown.

In Conclusion

There is nothing here to give any organization the right to breach national sovereignty in this case. Both sides have committed wrongs and intervention might not even bring about the desired result. It is best to let this conflict run it's natural course as that will protect Syrian sovereignty and allow the dominant and more stable side to win. Muddying the waters in this situation has no strong perceived benefit and therefore cannot override national sovereignty.

Thank you.

[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk...
[2] http://www.huffingtonpost.com...
[3] http://www.dailymail.co.uk...
YYW

Con

I will rebut this round, and offer my own case in the following round. Is this unconventional? Yes. But why, you may ask, is YYW being unconventional? Because I'm tired and forgot about this until now. I am obviously a terrible person. Without further ado, it's debating time.

1. National Sovereignty

CP frames intervention in Syria through the lens of national sovereignty such that because Syria is a sovereign state, foreign powers have "no right" to intervene. I take issue with that notion because if we accept that Syria is an ongoing humanitarian crisis where human rights are being violated by the Assad regime, then the Syrian government has lost it's claim to legitimacy as a state and therefore lost its claim to sovereignty because it has failed to do what states are foremost obliged to do -which is to protect the rights of its (the state's) subjects. So, because the Assad government has not only failed to protect the rights of its citizens by violating their rights, the Assad government is illegitimate and therefore has no claim to sovereignty.

2. Human Rights and Picking Sides

The Syrian people's rights have been violated by the Syrian Government, which is being led by Assad. What we call that violation is less important than the fact that a violation of rights has occurred -and even still, people do not loose rights in wartime. Because a state's violating the rights of its citizens undercuts that state's legitimacy, and therefore has no claim to sovereignty, those states that violate the rights of their citizens are subject to international intervention in the interest of those whose rights were violated. In this case, that means that external intervention is acceptable in response to the crisis in Syria. That is not to say who is obliged to intervene or how that intervention by external forces is to be executed, but that intervention is permissible on behalf of those whose rights are violated.

3. Stability, Freedom and Unpredictability

To promote stability and to defend the rights of the Syrian people from violation by the government to which they are presently subject is a legitimate justification for intervention because -aside from the fact that the Syrian government has no claim to sovereignty- it is the moral responsibility of those who can prevent atrocities from transpiring to prevent atrocities from happening. This is the case because by not intervening, governments are given licensee to abuse their subjects with impunity. It is therefore the responsibility, the duty, of the international community to in some way intervene to ameliorate the abuse of the Syrian people.

If we accept that those governments which protect and uphold the rights of their people are the most stable (as the example of the Arab Spring countries my opponent cited), and that those which do not uphold the rights of their people and even violate the rights of their people are not only prone to domestic instability, but that their risk of domestic instability poses a potential threat to international and regional geopolitical stability by risking conflict's spilling into bordering countries then it must be in the best interest of especially those countries who border potentially unstable countries to intervene against those governments who abuse the rights of their people by neutralizing that stability threat.

4. Intervention in War

Intervention may but does not necessarily require force. Intervention could be only non-military aid to rebels, such as providing rebels with foodstuffs and medical supplies. Intervention could be restricted to intelligence gathering in a non-beligerant capacity. Even still, while the use of force may prove to be necessary in defense of the rights of the Syrian people, that use of force is justified because it is in defense of the rights of those whose rights are unjustly violated by their government.

In conclusion, foreign powers should intervene, for the reasons above.

Peace out.

I'll use my opponent's sources in this round indirectly, and use my own later.
Debate Round No. 2
ConservativePolitico

Pro

I will respond to YYW's rebuttals this round, then in my next and final round I will try to both give a conclusion and respond to his points.

1. National Sovereignty

I take issue with my opponent's refutation to national sovereignty. First of all, the violation of human rights in no way disqualifies one from the right to sovereignty. This is the case for two reasons: 1) who has the right to violate sovereignty and 2) who decides when a certain human right is grave enough to forfeit sovereignty?

Should we intervene in France to make sure people are allowed to express their religious views in public schools? Do we bomb Saudi Arabia to allow Christians more freedom? How about in Laos, Cuba and North Korea, should we intervene there? Did the US sacrifice its sovereignty in the days of slavery and the civil rights movement? Did we get that sovereignty back? Says who?

As you see, the fact that someone throws around the term "human rights violation" arbitrarily does not give an outside power any right to breach one's sovereignty. If the government has lost legitimacy with the people, the people will remove it which they are trying to do. Human rights are being violated by both sides which I pointed out in my previous round. By supporting the rebels now you are supporting their own violation of human rights, so you can't use that as the focus of intervention. A point you failed to negate. The time to intervene is long past. You could have argued in favor of human rights three years ago when people were being gunned down in the streets. Now that this movement is tainted with terrorists, Christian haters and chemical weapons you cannot in good faith claim to support them over Assad in an issue of "human rights".

2. Human Rights and Picking Sides

My opponent parrots almost the same argument he put forth in the first section of this round. Again, I affirm that both sides have committed human rights violations. You cannot in good faith choose one over the other at this time. You want to intervene on behalf of those whose rights are being violated, but again I said the people now whose rights are being violated are those caught in the middle of the war so intervening on behalf of them means putting an end to the conflict which means you have to pick a side which, on the grounds of human rights, you cannot do because both sides are nearly equally as bad at this point. Everyone likes to say that "rights are being violated", but what rights? The right to life? The right not to be in a civil war? The violation of rights by the Assad regime was years ago, now this is merely a civil war.

3. Stability, Freedom and Unpredictability

I want to point out that my major point about the unpredictability of conflict and intervention and how it applies to the future was left completely untouched. The fact that we cannot predict what will happen and that intervening on behalf of freedom or stability is not guaranteed and therefore cannot be done in good faith because of national sovereignty was dropped and therefore affirmed.

My opponent;s big claim here is that we have a "moral responsibility" to prevent atrocities. I say that we don't and I can give a half a dozen moral arguments why that is not the case but I don't want this to be bogged down by a distracting moral debate. Who has the responsibility? The State? Individuals? I want to say that we have a political responsibility to respect national sovereignty at all costs. Again, I want to point out to my opponent that this is no longer a one sided conflict where the government is violating rights and committing atrocities, this has evolved into a civil war which is something much different. Now it's a pretty even fight, as we can tell by the stalemate. Both sides are violating rights and committing atrocities. They need to solve it from themselves.

If you want to help these people who are the subject of "rights violations" and "atrocities" you can aid the refugees in neighboring countries, that does not intervene in the conflict and would be perfectly legitimate, but leave the conflict alone.

4. Intervention and War

All of those things you described would prolong a conflict. Say a Syrian rebel convoy packed with crucial supplies to support a local front was about to run through an ambush but intervention has given this convoy intelligence to avoid this trap, you've just prolonged the conflict. Hungry soldiers that would throw down their arms and go home because they're tired of starving now have food to keep fighting. All of this "non-military" aid will prolong the bloodshed, the death, the potential for further atrocities and human rights violations to occur. It is much better to let the conflict play out on its own.

A good example of this is how the rebels were making key gains and some were even talking about an end to the war when Hezbollah decided to aid the Assad regime giving him key personnel and weapons to push the rebels back making it once more a stalemate and prolonging the destruction. The rebels could have won legitimately until a foreign group intervened and mucked up the conflict. [1]

In conclusion...

My opponent dropped a lot of my strong points and recycled the same trite points over and over this round. I won't make a list of the points dropped because I believe in the intelligence of the voters. There should be no intervention because the time for intervention is long past, this is no longer a one sided human rights violation but a sovereign civil war that no one has a right to intervene in.

Thank you.

[1] http://www.jewishpress.com...
YYW

Con

I'll just use CP's sources again... so yeah.

1. National Sovereignty

The mere occurrence of human rights violations in any degree is alone not sufficient to justify actions which, if taken by another state, would be at the expense of another state's sovereignty -but when human rights violations reach a point where the character of human rights violations becomes so great that the scope of the offense indicates that a government are acting (on balance) at the expense of the rights of its subjects rather than in defense of their subjects' rights, only then is it permissible for other states to intervene. It is justifiable for states to intervene as described because only states are entitled to sovereignty, and when states cease to uphold the rights of their subjects a state can no longer be said to be functioning as a state -but as an illegitimate center of power (rendered illegitimate by its violation of its people's rights) which has no claim to sovereignty.

CP's example of intervention in France, however, (among the others he listed) highlights the necessity of carefully determining when and under what circumstances those powers which have the capacity to intervene ought to intervene in defense of human rights -but dangerously confuses the issue (and my argument) in such a way that would suggest some arbitrary notion of human rights that, if semantically manipulated, could lead to something of an unjustified intervention. I posit that if human rights are to mean anything, and if we accept the universality of human rights grounded in human dignity then it follows that we are equally able to make distinctions between those nations which on balance serve to protect their people's rights, and those which violate their people's human rights. However, I would also suggest that while human rights violations may erode a state's justifiable claim to sovereignty as state above, that a state has no claim to sovereignty does not mean that "we" (whoever the "we" is in CP's rebuttal) are obliged to intervene. That is a separate issue for states to determine on the basis of their interests -such that where it is in the interest of a state to intervene on behalf of human rights, it is justifiable for them to do so even if that means that foreign powers are acting at the expense of state sovereignty.

2. Human Rights and Picking Sides

CP argues that "cannot in good faith choose [either the Assad Regime or the Syrian rebels] over the other at this time" in considerable error, such that I will explore below. To intervene on behalf of human rights does not mean that one side is chosen over another, but that intervention has taken effect -but, in the case of Syria the question is: "Does the Assad government uphold its subjects basic human rights, or does it act on balance at their expense?" The answer to that question tells us that indeed, the rights of the Syrian people are being violated to an egregious degree an in egregious ways. Dexter Filkins from the New Yorker notes that in addition to using chemical weapons against his people, the Assad Regime's war against its people has resulted in more than 70,000 deaths and 3.5 million people made refugees (1). Determining who is violating who's rights and what rights those are, to a reasonable, impartial observer shouldn't be very difficult.

3. Stability, Freedom and Unpredictability

Because the United States' intelligence collecting operations in Syria are presently limited by various factors, determining the scope and extent to which any outcome will be "unpredictable" is a fairly disingenuous argument because (a) the United States has unprecedented and nearly preeminent military capacity such that rival forces, if resources were properly allocated, would be sufficient to overwhelm any potential challenger. Moreover, (b) it should be noted that before military resources were committed to intervention of any kind, less entangling methods would be ruled out as possibilities to achieve given objectives -but above all before any apparatus of the US military were delegated, an intelligence operation to clarify the variables that CP pointed out would be necessary to ensure that the US knew what it was getting into.

But, that aside, the resolution states that "Foreign Powers Should Not Intervene in Syria's Civil War" rather than "The United States Should Not Intervene in Syria's Civil War." So, even if you don't believe that the United States should intervene in Syria's conflict, that does not mean that all foreign powers should ignore the occurrent human rights crisis in Syria.

4. Intervention and War

My opponent's speculation that the methods of intervention that I described would prolong a conflict does not negate the resolution, because prolonging a conflict does not mean that more human rights will be violated -but even if in prolonging the Syrian conflict a temporary increase in violence did occur, that violence would be -if aid were given to the Syrian people- in defense of the Syrian people's rights and defense from an oppressive government. Moreover, letting the conflict "play out on its own" is only what it easy -it is not what is right. If we accept that evil (human rights violations, in this case) prevails when good men do nothing, then it is incumbent upon us to facilitate some sort of intervention in defense of the Syrian people's rights. That could mean action through NATO, auspices of the UN or other alternatives. Ignoring a moral imperative because doing so is expedient cannot be said to be right... it is what is easy, and to choose between what is right and what is easy is the choice before the world now.

In conclusion,

We as people hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their JUST powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever ANY Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the RIGHT of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

While it is the right of the Syrian people to alter or abolish their government, it is the obligation of foreign powers to come to their aid. (I remind all that The United States would not exist without French aid.) While prudence, indeed, will dictate that The Assad Regime long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that the Syrian people are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed... when a long train of human rights abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce the Syrian people under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Syrian people, and to put an end to that suffering in defense of human rights is the moral duty of foreign powers (2). It is permissible, it is just, it is obliged. Foreign powers should intervene in Syria's civil war.

Fin.

(1) http://www.newyorker.com...
(2) The Declaration of Independence... that's right.
Debate Round No. 3
ConservativePolitico

Pro

Welcome, welcome to my last round of this wonderful debate where I am going to focus on concluding and closing out in a strong fashion.

In Ultimate Conclusion...

I want to reaffirm that no group has the capacity to judge another state as to whether or not they are adequately defending their citizen's rights. In the case of the Assad regime, they will say they are protecting their loyal citizens from the rebels. Who is to say otherwise? Syria is a nation of 22 million people [1] who is to say that Assad isn't trying to protect the loyal majority from the radical minority?

"highlights the necessity of carefully determining when and under what circumstances those powers which have the capacity to intervene ought to intervene in defense of human rights"

This is a perfect quote from my opponent as to why intervention is being argued against. In the case of Syria, as I have pointed out this debate, after careful consideration the circumstances of intervention are not strong enough. This war has strayed far from the black and white issue of simple human rights violations and has traversed into a sovereign civil war. Both sides have violated human rights. My opponent says you don't have to pick sides in order to prevent human rights violations but I beg to differ. How do you get them to stop without resolving the war? In order to resolve the war you have to pick a side which is not desirable in this case.

My opponent drops statistics that look large but when looking at the overall picture, there is still more than 90% of the Syrian population in Syria. What if the majority want the Assad regime? What if only a minority of the population is having their rights violated? Do we have the right to intervene and change the fate of 22 MILLION people on the whim of the First World to feel high and mighty? I doubt it. This sovereign people has a right to decide it's own destiny. It's not about nations and leaders, its about people. This group of people, the Syrian nation, borders and leaders aside, have a right to choose their fate without interference from powers whom they are unfamiliar and uncaring for.

My opponent heavily sites the "good" in intervention. However, this good is ambiguous as I have shown. How do we know intervention will truly lead to good? How do we know that the rights of the Syrian people will actually be secured? What about their right to act and choose their own fate as a sovereign people? That right isn't discussed by Pro-intervention people.

"Moreover, letting the conflict "play out on its own" is only what it easy -it is not what is right."

I think it is harder to let this civil war rage and do the actual right thing which is to NOT intervene and allow the Syrian people to decide their fate on their own. If this was a gross majority being suppressed by a tiny minority it would be a different story but this civil war is split. Do you have the right to stomp on the sovereignty of the Pro-Assad people because you feel the rebels are more "right"? There are people on both sides and both sides have to have their humanity respected and humanity comes with the freedom to choose and that freedom includes the political freedom to support and fight for whichever side you choose without interference from high minded, wealthy First World powers.

The Syrian people must be respected and allowed to decide their fate on their own!

Thank you.

[1] https://www.cia.gov...
YYW

Con

YYW forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by ClassicRobert 3 years ago
ClassicRobert
To me, this debate boiled down to this. YYW argued that intervention isn't necessarily picking sides, but reducing human rights violations. At one point, CP said that the human rights violations were roughly similar on both sides, which would have been fine if he convinced me of that. YYW showed some pretty grievous numbers showing that the Syrian government should not be there, and I got the general impression that the human rights violations on the rebel side were lesser and reactionary. YYW's arguments had some flaws in it as well though. The biggest error was that he essentially ignored CP's points about the rebels. It was almost as though he saw the rebels as completely innocent from guilt, and that the government was the only side that should take any blame.

Essentially, Pro assumed the burden of proof, and he did not prove that foreign powers should not intervene. I was left with the impression that the debate was a tie leaning towards YYW. In order for Pro to fulfill his burden of proof, he needed to prove to me that the human rights violations on both sides were roughly equal and that the rebel's human rights violations were not primarily reactionary (sort of like self defense). Without proving that, he did not show me that neither side of the conflict was more "right" than the other, which his argument relied on. Since Pro did not fulfill his BoP, he lost arguments.

Pro get's conduct for Con's forfeit.

S&G was roughly equal, and neither side had unreliable sources.
Posted by ClassicRobert 3 years ago
ClassicRobert
This debate was really interesting to me. I just read it. I have to go to work now, but when I get home, I'll vote.
Posted by YYW 3 years ago
YYW
FVCK I CANNOT BELIEVE I FORGOT ABOUT THIS! nac
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Cobo 3 years ago
Cobo
ConservativePoliticoYYWTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: This was an all around great debate simply because both debaters remained on topic with the four points introduced by pro. The reason I'm giving the pro the conduct point is due to them keeping the debate within the realm of the resolution by not addressing the dropped arguments(I did see that many, but still) and not listing moral reasons when there were plenty. These are just two examples of pro keeping it in range while the con sort of expanded outside the resolution but still tied it in. Going into the final round I feel the arguments were split fifty/fifty and that by Con's forfeit it easily tipped the scales in the Con's favor.
Vote Placed by ClassicRobert 3 years ago
ClassicRobert
ConservativePoliticoYYWTied
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Total points awarded:13 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.
Vote Placed by NiqashMotawadi3 3 years ago
NiqashMotawadi3
ConservativePoliticoYYWTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I would have given arguments to Con if he didn't forfeit, given that he made a good moral and humanitarian case. But because because of his forfeit arguments are tied and Pro gets the conduct point.