The recent bombing attacks in Syria and the outright civilian slaughter unfolding inside its borders represent but one link in a long chain of epic state collapses trailing back beyond even the fall of Rome. Instability is inherent to autocratic regimes: the more concentrated their power, the less secure their grips.
A natural state of equality abides between all human beings, in spite of our diverse personal attributes, so that any discrepancy between the political power of one individual, or of one group, and another will eventually prove but a pretense and so eventually collapse.
Personal character, as demonstrated by their actions or inaction, solely elevates one human being above another — and even then only for a few moments.
Yet our personal character, like our planet’s metals, does have its rarer veins. It is neither equally distributed among mankind nor among all regions of Earth. Mankind’s very exodus from Africa revealed within humanity varying strains of curiosity and intrepidity — not to mention avarice and recklessness.
In centuries past, for example, the crossing of the Atlantic to America revealed a different sort of character than that possessed by they who stayed behind. Thus the American character reveals an even rarer, further refined vein. We are a people whose forefathers proved time and again they would not live under oppression — emigrating where possible, or fighting the powers that be for rights denied them and for a natural equality perverted both by monarchy and by slavery.
Were we aided in our struggles by other nations? Undoubtedly yes. But these were not the selfless sacrifices of nations who sought only the natural equality of all. These were the very countries whose oppressive governments drove us across the Atlantic in such great numbers.
So what of peoples in distant eastern reaches, whose inherited character seems less even tempered or less well refined than our own? Ought we, in the spirit of our natural equality, extend a helping hand backward across the wide oceans to aid in their growth to our naturally equal state? Do they deserve a benefit of the doubt as to their individual potential for redemption?
The fall of ancient Rome elicited no nation-states’ aid. But what might have been the result had the Roman empire been spared? Perhaps we should see now a centuries-long succession of Roman emperors, as well as of popes?
What of the Roman people themselves? Did not the spoils of war and their gladiatorial events prove so intoxicating that political unrest from within was effectively silenced? Should such a coarse exhibition of character merit sacrifices by people of a rarer, more refined character?
In the case of Syria we find a people who until very recently remained complacent under autocratic regimes for decades, yet divided among themselves by inherited ethnic and sectarian loyalties. What sort of character does this demonstrate? Are there pockets of rebels who possess our sense of a universal human equality — those not simply fighting for their own survival or for a victory over rival factions but for our universal equality — and how would these be identified? Furthermore, why have they not yet emigrated or fled?
When our own forefathers were oppressed, or even just marginalized within their own respective homelands, they did not stay — either to tolerate the oppression or to return such intolerance and the prejudice they faced. Instead, they left for America. And therein they proved to be of a different sort of character.
It is neither the responsibility of the U.S. nor of any nation beyond those that comprise the Middle East itself either to draw up or to impose a plan for a lasting civil order. The survival of any administration or regime and in fact of any nation hinges upon the capacity of a great majority of its citizenry to govern their own lives, to respect the lives of their fellow citizens — and to stand up against those who won’t.
If the citizens of a country are incapable of such civil sophistication and so require a dictatorial regime to maintain order; or if they have the necessary sophistication but lack the courage to fight for that order, then no amount of foreign intervention will ever create a stable nation. But it ought go without saying that no foreign intervention should attempt the bringing down of a regime for the sake of furthering the interests of that same foreign power, let alone for the sake of furthering private interests. Only if such an action were undertaken in self-evident national, impending self defense might it possibly be justified.