Friday, March 16, 2012

Space Aliens End Syria Intervention Debate

On Wednesday, The Onion ran an article entitled "Alien World to Help Out Syria Since This One Refuses To."  The article contains a statement from the Emperor of Zarklom 12 announcing that he is sending an armada to Syria with the intention of "dislodging the al-Assad family from power; liberating cities such as Homs, which has been shelled by tanks and rockets unremittingly for a month; and freeing thousands of Syrians—many of them children—who have been imprisoned and tortured purely for political reasons."

There remains some question as to credibility of the statement given a lack of past interactions with Zarklom and also given that the Onion does not report real news.  However, an alien intervention in Syria would solve three of the most complex challenges facing American and European policymakers at the moment with regards to Syria.

1) Safety.  Certain alternatives to alien invasion at the moment are untested and could have global repercussions.   Reluctance by Western policy makers to start a zombie pandemic in Syria is well-founded, and those who support it may have ulterior motives such as driving up fundraising or selling books.  While an alien invasion is also untested, it seems the Empire of Zarlkom 12 has a much clearer plan of what it intends to do in Syria after an initial invasion.  As politics on Earth exactly 9 years ago Sunday tells us, having a plan for the post-invasion stage is very important to the success of your intervention, especially in the Middle East.  Of course, given that Zarklom 12 seems aware of this fact from 3 million light years away, Western policy makers are conceivably aware of the fact as well.  While avoiding quagmires is important, it must also not create inaction in the face of mass killings and the slaughter of innocents.

1) Norms. Multilateral intervention has become seen in the international community as less legitimate over time.  Adding to the complexity, intervention requires extensive diplomatic efforts to avoid the perception of a Western invasion of the Arab world or an attack on Islam should intervention in Syria occur.  Zarklom 12, however, is not part of the Western world or even the western edge of the Milky Way galaxy.  It is unlikely Zarklom will be at odds with Islam until Newt Gingrich founds a colony on one of their moons (2020 at the earliest).  But since Zarklom is not on Earth, certain taboos and rituals which we observe on Earth are thus not applicable to Zarklom 12.  This means that intervention carries a lower cost.  Of course, given the raw carnage on the ground in Syria, some would argue that the effort required to assemble this multilateral coalition is a small price to pay in and of itself.

2) Coordination problems.  Finally, multilateral intervention in Syria may be seen as more legitimate, but is difficult to coordinate.  The more actors involved, the lower the responsibility of each actor.  A multilateral intervention consisting of many states gives a lower and lower level of responsibility for success the more states involved.  A unilateral invasion by Zarklom 12 is a more feasible option because it gives a sole actor responsibility for each of the goals of intervention in Syria: toppling Assad, liberating Homs, and freeing Syrian political prisoners.  Of course, it may be problematic that sole responsibility is places on the shoulders of Zarklom 12.  A small-n coalition consisting of the US, UK, France, and UN with support from Arab bodies such as the AL and GCC would be the optimal balance of the responsibility-to-efficacy ratio.

While certain logistical details remain, an alien invasion seems ultimately one of the more feasible options for immediate intervention in Syria.  It is crucial we support this invasion.  If Zarklom 12 should not follow through, it will only reintroduce the immense strategic, logistical, and moral complexities of intervention in Syria back into the ongoing debate here in Washington.