Just a thought: as a member of Amnesty International, I am of course very eager to see an International Arms Trade Treaty, currently being debated, adopted by the United Nations. Thousands upon thousands of soldiers, civilians and children are killed every year by arms-related violence, which could so easily be reduced by limiting the supply of such weapons. This would also have the effect of stabilising many countries in the world which regularly become torn apart by rebellions, as well as limiting the ability of rogue dictatorships to violently repress their citizens.
And yet, at the same time, I think I tentatively support the supplying of arms to the Syrian Opposition. Is this a contradiction? It’s my belief, from the limited knowledge available to me, that to do so would in the long run reduce lives lost in the conflict. If it’s inevitable that the Assad regime will fall, which I believe to be so, then doing nothing will continue to drag out the stalemate which sees over 100 people killed every day. If we were to alter the balance and allow the opposition to gain the upper hand, the conflict might be slightly closer to a conclusion. It would be naive to think that the regime ending would end all fighting, and there is the very real possibility of the civil war continuing on ethnic grounds afterwards. There is also the high possibility of arms falling into the hands of Islamic extremists. Thing is, both of these negative outcomes will happen even if we do nothing. By allowing arms to flow to the more moderate sections of the opposition, chances are they will have more influence in a post-Assad Syria than the extremists. The longer the conflict goes on, the more sectarian it will become.
Both my beliefs on these issues are founded in the desire to prevent the loss of life through violence, yet they’re in direct conflict with one another. I’m not sure how to overcome this ideological impasse.