Listen Now

Copeland: How should Canada respond to the rising violence in Syria?

By: /
27 February, 2012
By: Daryl Copeland

Former diplomat; research fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute

This is largely a hypothetical question, as Canada`s ability to influence the course of events in Syria is extremely limited.

That said, a few things seem clear.

Nasty dictators are bad, but state failure and a descent into anarchy would be even worse, especially in such a volatile region as the Middle East.

Internal Syrian politics are dizzyingly complex, and outcomes impossible to engineer by remote control. Armed intervention by outsiders, in effect taking sides in a civil war, is to be avoided.

Arming the fragmented, disparate opposition could make matters worse rather than better. The provision of humanitarian assistance through credible organizations such as the Red Crescent, however, is morally imperative and Canada should contribute generously.

The Arab League, Turkey, and others have come together in the emerging Friends of Syria contact group. Canada might usefully play some kind of supporting role in that initiative.

Continued resource reductions have damaged Canadian diplomatic potential, undercut analytical and assessment capacity, and rendered all options for progressive engagement in Syria problematic.

Before you click away, we’d like to ask you for a favour … 

 

Journalism in Canada has suffered a devastating decline over the last two decades. Dozens of newspapers and outlets have shuttered. Remaining newsrooms are smaller. Nowhere is this erosion more acute than in the coverage of foreign policy and international news. It’s expensive, and Canadians, oceans away from most international upheavals, pay the outside world comparatively little attention.

At Open Canada, we believe this must change. If anything, the pandemic has taught us we can’t afford to ignore the changing world. What’s more, we believe, most Canadians don’t want to. Many of us, after all, come from somewhere else and have connections that reach around the world.

Our mission is to build a conversation that involves everyone — not just politicians, academics and policy makers. We need your help to do so. Your support helps us find stories and pay writers to tell them. It helps us grow that conversation. It helps us encourage more Canadians to play an active role in shaping our country’s place in the world.

Become a Supporter