Why don't we let the Syrian people decide?

I know it's all the fashion in politics today to call for regime change in Syria, and who doesn't like the idea of yet another chaotic, Mad Max-style failed state, amirite?
But I'm an old-fashioned kind of guy, and one of those old-fashioned ideas is that people should chose their own government. I know that self-determination is out of style in mainstream Democratic circles, but humor me anyway.
The question is: How do we determine what the Syrian people want?

Syria had an election in 2014, but that was mostly a joke. After all, the election didn't happen in much of the country because the civil war made that impossible.
So how can we determine what the Syrian people want if you can't hold a fair election?

Actually there is a way.
The Syrian people have consistently "voted" with their feet, and since their lives depended on it, this vote matters a lot more than any checked box.

An estimated 11 million Syrians have fled their homes since the outbreak of the civil war in March 2011. Now, in the sixth year of war, 13.5 million are in need of humanitarian assistance within the country. Among those escaping the conflict, the majority have sought refuge in neighbouring countries or within Syria itself. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 4.8 million have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, and 6.6 million are internally displaced within Syria.

So most Syrian refugees never actually flee Syria. Where do they flee to in Syria? Government-controlled areas.

Although nobody has exact figures on the whereabouts of the internally displaced people, or IDPs, aid officials and nongovernmental organizations say the vast majority have sought shelter in areas controlled by the government of President Bashar Assad.
“There is no doubt that many, many more displaced people are on the government side than on the opposition side,” Krzysiek said...
Nearly 80 percent of those displaced by the war within Syria have fled to government-held parts of the country, a European diplomat said. Less than a quarter have chosen the side controlled by the various rebel groups, said the diplomat, who could not be named under his nation’s standing rules.
“This probably also shows where their political preferences lie,” he said.

That in no way means that all those IDPs like the Assad government. It's probably true that a significant percentage of the IDPs want Assad gone.
However, what we know for absolute certainty is that this is an overwhelming vote against the rebel forces that would take over if we overthrew Assad.

“Once the policy people look at what the day after would be — they don’t see any options,” said Josh Landis, the director of the Center For Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “The two strongest militias in Syria are Al Qaeda and ISIS, which would undoubtedly profit and would move into Damascus, were the Assad regime to be destroyed.”
Landis said that any gains made by rebel groups would inevitably lead to sectarian violence against minorities, and would have dire humanitarian consequences for the 15 million people who currently live in Assad-controlled territory.
Rebel violence has particularly affected Syria’s minorities, like Christians and Alawites — a Shia sect that Assad belongs to — as well as Sunnis from pro-government areas, who have been perceived as supporting Assad...
“We’ve seen that wherever rebel militias have taken Alawite or Christian regions,” Landis said, “the Alawites flee within 24 hours. There are no Alawites left, or else they’re taken captive. And Christians are gone. … That’s what’s most likely to happen in the rest of Syria if the Syrian army were destroyed.”

It seems bizarre to see Christian Republicans in America applauding a Syrian policy that would result in the extermination of Christians in Syria.
It seems bizarre to see liberals in America applauding a Syrian policy that would result in the extermination of minorities in Syria.

As for the rebel fighters, a lion's share of them aren't even Syrian, so I don't think their vote should count.
When will we stop pretending that we are acting with the interests of the Syrian people?

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Comments

in the past I believe you have urged us not to discount the violence emanating from the Assad forces, I appreciate your point here. At the same time, I think the realities for refugees don't necessarily translate into votes for or against any political solution, other than for peace.

So I think your assertion is absolutely right that by any measure of what we know, by everything we can assume the people of Syria have experienced, just by looking at the conditions of life in Assad's pre-war Syria and by looking at the conditions of life in post-regime-change Libya, only an insane person would prefer ISIS to Assad.

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@Linda Wood
But until someone invents a Door #3, the people of Syria have spoken.

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eyo's picture

And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple
An hundred times made plain
To seek another’s profit
And work another’s gain
Take up the White Man’s burden
And reap his old reward:

Blah blah blah etc., since at least 1899 Phillipines. In other words, because U.S. government imposes racist caretaker philosophy on all since forever and it is systemic? That's what I think. Er, someone made me think it anyway. Howard Zinn or Studs Terkel, can't remember which. Thanks

Peace & Love

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On a blog.

they need saving and only we can save them, amirite? Of course I am right, I'm an American, sheesh...

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GreatLakeSailor's picture

@lizzyh7
.

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The only reason the 1% are rich is because the 99% have agreed to it.

Big Al's picture

Or we in as our government? Because we as in you and me and Bobby McGee can't decide shit in our own country let alone decide what people in other countries should decide.
I think the Syrians and Americans are sort in the same boat, none of us can really decide anything and we're all being ruled by psychos.
Basically the only way either of us are going to be able to decide a thing is if we do a regime change in this country.

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9 users have voted.

That is a historical truth. Eisenhower blocked the scheduled UN plebiscite in Vietnam because it was obvious that Ho Chi Minh would have won and there would have been a united Vietnam that was Socialist. By doing this, it resulted in the death of 2 million Vietnamese, and millions of Cambodians. By the way, the MSM joined in the continuous lies, from the Gulf of Tonkin incidence to almost all war reports. We have perfected the American geopolitical killing machine, from fabricating false flags, to marketing an illegal war, to killing maiming and torturing and lying, all the meanwhile claiming that we were the good guys. If we believe in democracy, how about allowing the people of Saudi Arabia to decide their government, or Kuwaitis, or any of the despotic ME oil countries? Or how about calling for a plebiscite in Crimea and abiding by the results?

Even discussing the overthrow of a legitimate government and member of the UN should be considered a war crime. The irony of all of this is that the US, as the major superpower, has the most to gain from an orderly world that respects international law. If you have been listening to President Vladimir Putin and Minister Sergei Lavrov you will have realized that they phrase all of their arguments in terms of international law.

Before we had Neocon idiots running our foreign policy, now we have amateur neocon idiots running our foreign policy. The problem is that we have the world's largest, most lethal military. We are not nearly wise enough to be allowed to do this. It should be up to our so-called friends in Western Europe to moderate our behavior. It seems, though, that they are more interested in getting their vicarious thrills through us of empire long lost.

The lesson learned by other major countries is that they need a believable military deterrent. President Putin made this part of his strategy to rebuild Russia. China took longer to realize this, but are now seriously on the path to considerable self-defense. India, Pakistan, Iran all realize that the US is major threat and they need a believable defense. The US has backed itself into a corner. We have a high-tech military based on low loss of life, our lives. If there is considerable risk we will back-off. For instance, North Korea has almost 1000 military aircraft, including some MIG29s, one of the fastest fighter aircraft in the world. They also have the bomb. Trump had better put two and two together and realize that US military bases and major Asian cities are at risk. Consider that we have killed millions in illegal wars, why would they hesitate to kill millions in self defense?

Trump is playing a very dangerous game. The US has crossed many lines that were in place in the first Cold War, and now is going where no nation dare to go based on POTUS's ego. Consider this analogy. It's 1970 and the Vietnam war is raging. The USSR decides to punish South Vietnam because of fake moral outrage about some made-up act of the South Vietnamese government, by firing 59 missiles into Saigon. That would have been way over the line for the Cold War. I believe that we have not yet seen Russia's response to the cruise missile attack.

Anyway, to get back to my original point, it's really all about perceived friends and enemies, and has absolutely nothing to do with democracy. Democracy is the marketing ploy that we use to sell our war crimes.

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Capitalism has always been the rule of the people by the oligarchs. You only have two choices, eliminate them or restrict their power.

@The Wizard
here is one of the best descriptions of the state of affairs that I have read anywhere.

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SparkyGump's picture

Could you imagine our reaction to a Russian attack on Panama? The media loves to show tragic pictures of kids and wail "why don't we do something?!". We are being conditioned to be Team America: World Police and us taxpayers are footing the bill. We could cut our military in half and still have a bad ass military, but it's not about power, it's about control.

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You don't have to like the truth for it to be true

eyo's picture

SYRIA:direct: Voices from the ground after car bombing kills more than 100 evacuees from pro-regime villages

Apr. 17, 2017
An unclaimed suicide car bombing southwest of Aleppo city took the lives of more than 100 people on Saturday, most of them evacuees from the rebel-blockaded, Shiite-majority Idlib villages of al-Fuaa and Kufraya.

The attack follows a complex surrender and evacuation deal brokered by Iran and Qatar last month stipulating the evacuation of thousands of Shiite villagers from al-Fuaa and Kufraya. In exchange, pro-opposition fighters and some civilians are being evacuated from the Outer Damascus towns of Madaya and Zabadani, as well as Wadi Barada.

Madaya, Zabaani, al-Fuaa and Kufraya have all been encircled by regime and rebel forces respectively for the past two years.

Assad supporters on social media condemned a perceived imbalance in reporting compared with a recent regime sarin attack against an opposition Idlib town. Rebel supporters condemned the regime and lauded opposition journalists who were filmed and photographed rescuing the wounded.

At the center of the rhetoric and accusations are the victims—people who thought they were at the end of a nightmare only to find themselves in a new one.

Q: You and your family were on one of the buses in the convoy that was bombed
in Rashideen on Saturday while waiting to enter regime territory. Where were you when the bombing happened?
The journey was really terrifying. The whole time, we were petrified, afraid that something would happen, that we would be shot or detained. Unfortunately, what happened was worse than what we expected. Most of the dead were women and children. But it was not wholly unexpected.

That is some powerful peace propaganda right there, does that ever make it to the TV machine? Nope? No wonder nobody asks why.

Thanks

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On a blog.

Pluto's Republic's picture

Self Determination is the most important Human Right.

Here's the answer from Quora:

No Syria is not a dictatorship, in 2007 Assad was elected as president he got the majority vote of 72%. in 2014 he was elected again and won.

Syria is probably more democratic than some EU/US countries.

Syria has a constitution, has more than 5 political parties. Has a active opposition party inside Syria for more than 10 years.

Syrian citizens don’t have censored media like most EU countries.

For example. back in 1999 Syrian government passed a law that all its Syrian citizens are allow to buy TV satellites that can broadcast more than 4000 unconcerned channels. And they still use it till this day. Not to mention Syria was and it is a very capitalist country. It was easy to open a store or make you’re own business.

Syria before the Proxy war was one of the top 5 safest countries in the world.

People here who say it’s “dictatorship” or “it’s as democratic as Cuba or NK”. Have no idea what they are talking about. They never visited Syria, They just repeat what their news/media is saying.

It's about a pipeline. Syria is letting a pipeline from Iran pass through the country to the Mediterranean and not letting one from Qatar pass. Also, it's multi-racial, which bothers Israel and the Saudis, who both are intent on exterminating all Shiites in the ME. The US is obligated to fight battles for both of them. So, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel, the US, and Turkey created ISIS. Also, Syria's oil is nationalized, which is a Mortal Sin to the Neocons unless Israel is doing it, because reasons.

The Deep State is increasingly terrified by democracy. Who can blame them after what the Crimean people did for themselves?

[EDIT]

There are more than a dozen US NGOs sucking up US grants, who are dedicated to "bringing democracy to Syria." They are all thoroughly corrupt and are major participants in the psyops being used on the American people.

I presented all these arguments — when Hillary Clinton and Chris Stephens were running guns with the CIA out of Benghazi — over at TOP while that neocon cesspool was ginning up for a new war in Syria. After the Benghazi attack, and then Ukraine, it became stunningly clear what was (and is) going on there, and who is pulling the strings.

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PriceRip's picture

@Pluto's Republic

          The US is increasingly terrified by democracy.

          Citizens of another country preferring to live by a different set of values must terrify the likes of Hillary and Trump. Those that wish to hold power can only do so under their own terms. If the rules are not in their favor they can no longer prevail. Theirs is a precarious position, if we, the great unwashed, learn from those citizens of other countries. Heaven help them if we ever figure out how nice it is to live in some other country.

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"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

SnappleBC's picture

But if we let the Syrian people decide they are absolutely going to decide to go with the Russian pipeline over the American/European one. They still won't be connected to the world bank.

Obviously, we can't allow that.

ps: added to my ever-growing Syria compendium with cite.

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Just to get this out of the way, Yes, I'm a plant from DKOS paid for by the DNC

Pluto's Republic's picture

@SnappleBC

...for Petrodollars, like they used to do. Water under the bridge, that. Their nationalized oil will help them rebuild their country out of the rubble.

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@Pluto's Republic
what nationalization of the oil industry in Syria really means, I found this site interesting because it is very detailed, but what it also coveys is that the whole economic progress of a country is complex, incremental, and especially subject to things like drought, the Iran/Iraq War, oil prices, oil quality, and so forth.

Essentially though, the basic struggle between planning an economy so that working people can make a living, versus allowing market forces to create wealth for the wealthy and poverty for working people, is an ongoing challenge that the Syrian government has tried to conduct in the interests of working people. Or so it seems from what I'm reading.

I'm posting the following as just an example of the details involved, including pipelines, which you've focused on before.

http://countrystudies.us/syria/44.htm

... Although Syria awarded its first oil concession to foreign firms in the 1930s, it did not emerge as an oil producer until the late 1960s. In 1956 an American company discovered oil at Qarah Shuk (Karachuk) in the northeast near the Iraqi border. In 1959 a West German firm discovered the Suwaydiyah field, located about fifteen kilometers south of the first oil discovery. The Syrian government nationalized the oil industry in 1964, and in the late 1960s the Syrian General Petroleum Company (SGPC),the national oil company, brought the two fields on stream with Soviet assistance. Although Suwaydiyah initially averaged 20,000 barrels per day (bpd) and Qarah Shuk produced 30,000 bpd, the oil from both fields carried American Petroleum Institute (API) quality ratings of 25.5 and 19, respectively. Both had high sulfur contents, confirming the poor quality of Syrian oil. Syria became an oil exporter in 1968 with the completion of a 663- kilometer pipeline to transport oil to a terminal at Tartus on the Mediterranean coast. Both the Qarah Shuk and Suwaydiyah fields continued to produce oil into the 1980s...

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k9disc's picture

Only this time it's not the Evil Empire we're fighting, it's self determination itself.

Only terrorists don't like American hegemony.

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“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ~ Sun Tzu

wiki:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Syria
Economy of Syria
From Wikipedia

The economy of Syria is based on agriculture, oil, industry and services. Its GDP per capita expanded 80% in the 1960s reaching a peak of 336% of total growth during the 1970s.[citation needed] This proved unsustainable for Syria and the economy shrank by 33% during the 1980s. However the GDP per capita registered a very modest total growth of 12% (1.1% per year on average) during the 1990s due to successful diversification.

… Since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, the Syrian economy has been hit by massive economic sanctions... These sanctions and the instability associated with the civil war have reversed previous growth in the Syrian economy to a state of decline for the years 2011 and 2012.[16] According to the UN, total economic damages of the Syrian civil war are estimated at $143 billion as of late 2013.[17]

By July 2013, the Syrian economy had shrunk 45 percent since the start of the Civil War…. The total economic loss from the Syrian Civil War will reach $237 billion by the end of 2015

During the 1960s, along socialist lines, the government nationalized most major enterprises and adopted economic policies designed to address regional and class disparities. This legacy of state intervention and price, trade, and foreign exchange controls may have hampered economic growth… Economic reform has been incremental and gradual. In 2001, Syria legalized private banking.

Ad hoc economic liberalization continues to add wealth inequality, impoverishing the average population while enriching a few people in Syria's private sector.

… The bulk of Syrian imports have been raw materials essential for industry, agriculture, equipment, and machinery. Major exports include crude oil, refined products, raw cotton, clothing, fruits, and cereal grains.

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Why can't the Syrian people be 'allowed' to decide for themselves, you ask?

The US Psychopathic Class won't allow the American people to make their own free choices in elections - of course they don't want to let the people of the countries they plan to invade make their own choices.

Their forte seems to be setting up 'democratic' government - by force, where this is required - with a public electoral 'choice' of whatever puppet they prefer. The other option is 'or else'.

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