Choice and being able to make choices are fundamental for freedom. By no means does that freedom have to be wrapped in a democratic style of governance. However we have come to link the two as if one can not live without the other. With all the revolutions in the Middle East we are living through a time where freedom of choice is being expressed by the people. Often these people live in Autocratic societies.
Now, as an outsider, I know that I should have no say in how these people choose to be governed, that is up to them. When I hear leaders (as has Canada’s leader) call for regime change, I feel the bullet of oppression rip through the right to self-determination. I am all for ending the violence in these revolutionized countries but I do not want to support war mongering or anything else that will cause more bloodshed. Furthermore I do not want to force a system of government on anyone.
In Syria we have many countries flapping their mouths off about regime change. These same countries are providing support as well in the form of weapons and training. What is really surprising is that the support is given to opposition forces that have very little support amongst the people within Syria. By supporting these opposition forces we are supporting a group that represents a minority seeking power and using force to get that power. This is the very thing the revolution sought to end in the first place.
Over the course of events in Syria I have sided with the plan in which Russia and China have always stated. That being a coalition of leaders meeting with the Syrian government to hammer out a peace plan. Doing this will ensure sovereignty, legitimacy and hopefully a quicker agreement to a ceasefire agreement. At the outset the other three permanent members of the United Nations Security Council have fought those plans, which in the meantime more people of been killed. Somehow the popular perception has it that Russian and China are the ones that have been blocking peace efforts. The fact is opposite.
The people of Syria need to be given the chance to exercise their will to run their own country. That is their right and their freedom. If they want to be ruled by a monarchy or dictator so be it. What ever format they choose to make that choice we must support. Now of course the international community has to abide by international law and human rights. So we can not support a system that selects a leader by shooting each other.
Now to throw even more mud into the mix. The international community may be ethically bound to stop violent conflicts, legally there are no grounds to do so unless such violence spills into neighbouring countries. This has not happened in Syria. However there are forces outside of Syria going in.
In Syria, the path to peace is to support the people of Syria. That path is through the existing government and a ceasefire agreement with all opposition forces. This is the support in which the international community has always been asked to provide: The support of the current government to uphold the current laws and constitution of the sovereign state. With that the international community has limited that support if a government is actively killing its own people such as genocides. In such a case regime change is deemed necessary.
In conclusion, the international community must support the people in its right to choose the system and the leadership of their own country. Those rights must be protected up to the point where the system used threatens regional peace or threatens an unequal section of the population (what ever that is).