As posted by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at Che Det on September 29, 2013
1. The British parliament, to the surprise (and probably relief) of Prime Minister David Cameron, rejected British armed intervention in Syria. Then Barack Obama, President of America, decided that he would ask for Congress approval even for what he called limited military action against the Syrian Government despite his right to declare war without the approval of Congress. In other words he is not really willing. It is a smart move on his part because if the venture fails Congress cannot blame him alone.
2. It looks like the Western Powers have learnt something from their experience in Afghanistan and Iraq. They once thought that it would take only a few months of shock and awe to achieve regime change in these two countries. In the event after ten years of war, after losing thousands of their own soldiers while killing hundreds of thousands of Afghans and Iraqis, devastating these countries, the regime changes have not resulted in the democracy they expected. If at all the present situation in these two countries is much worse than before invasion and the regime changes.
3. The hesitation over a military adventure in Syria, even a limited one is understandable. Yes, the use of chemical weapons probably killed over a thousand innocent Syrians. But already about 200,000 people have been killed. Is it acceptable to kill unlimited numbers of innocent people with bombs, rockets and bullets but not with chemical weapons?
4. If a military invasion is to take place surely it would cause more deaths, definitely more than the number killed by chemical weapons. And supposing the arsenal of chemical weapons are hit, would it not cause even more deaths.
5. Supposing limited war takes the form of assassination of the President, would the war stop? Would the opposition take over the Government and set up a democracy? The killings of Saddam and Ghadafi have not resulted in stability for their countries. Even the removal of Hosni Mubarak has not resulted in Egypt being stable and democratic.
6. The experience in Iraq shows that killing Saddam Hussain did not end the war. In fact the killings or disabling of the leaders have not brought about peace or a stable democratic nation. The supporters of Bashar would very likely continue the fight against the rebels.
7. But supposing the rebels win, what kind of a Government will they set up. It is reported that the Al Qaedah are also with the rebels. An election would probably result in a Sunni Government. The Shiah and Muslim extremist would not like this.
8. People who rise against their Government must know that it is risky and success is not guaranteed. And outside help cannot be depended upon. Such help would tarnish the image of the rebels. They would lose the support of many.
9. We see this happening in Egypt. Some people are already beginning to think that Mubarak’s rule was better. At least the country was stable and people could go about their business and earn a living. With the demonstrations against Mubarak and then against Morsi and now against the military rulers, the instability is hurting ordinary people. They wish the rebellion had never taken place.
10. Regime change may be desirable but it is wrong for the West to force it on people who may not ready for it. The process must be through education and the slow spread of the principles of democracy and its weaknesses. The focus should be on the next generation, which will be more appreciative of the good points of democracy and understand how it works. The most important point is that some will lose in elections. They must then be patient enough to wait for the next election. A bad Government is better than a destabilised Government. If the Government is really bad, it will not win the next election. The losers in the last election may then have a chance to win. And when they win a genuine regime change would take place.