With the recent tension between the United States and Syria, some believe that President Bashar Assad’s country could be the next target for U.S. invasion. While the option has undoubtedly been explored by Bush, “Operation Syria Freedom,” is unlikely to take place.

This is not because Syria has suddenly become an exemplary international citizen. On the contrary, the regime is as bad as ever. Yet, we will not invade Syria simply because we don’t need to. Taking out Iraq provides us with enough force to pressure other Middle-Eastern countries to reform. In fact, I believe this was the chief underlying reason we ousted Saddam Hussein in the first place.

The moral argument for attacking Syria is actually quite sound. Recently, Assad’s regime allowed Islamic militants to cross the Syria-Iraq border to help Hussein in the war. Syria continues to exert military control over Lebanon and its drug trade, and also protects the Hezbollah terrorist organization. The regime has an abominable human rights record. If there are regimes that the world would miss less than Hussein’s, Syria’s would be near the top of that list.

Yet while diplomacy with Iraq proved to be useless, and military action there was assessed as a quick solution, Syria’s situation is the reverse.

While the Iraqi people hated Hussein and in general put up no major resistance, the Syrians could easily resort to guerrilla warfare making our war costs skyrocket. In addition, the international cry that Syria would raise as a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council would be many times that raised against our invasion of Iraq.

After a stunning victory over its neighbor, we wanted Assad to be scared. So last week, the Bush administration demanded that Syria hand over Iraqi leaders who may have crossed the border. The response was immediate – communication opened and Syria implemented stricter policies on travel between the two countries.

Since the first test of Syria’s willingness to cooperate was a success, the administration will likely continue to put diplomatic pressure on Syria and similar regimes using Iraq as an example. If it is known that Iraq is what happens to countries who ignore us, then who will?

Not Syria, Iraq’s next-door neighbor of which we have 300,000 troops within striking distance. If we proceed correctly, we will follow our demands for more communication with demands for reform. If we play our diplomatic cards well, we could be as victorious in Syria as we are in Iraq, but without all the bloodshed.

Severs can be reached at asevers@campustimes.org.



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