As Assad continues killing and maiming innocent people in Syria it begins to feel as if there is no alternative to using force against cruel tyrants like him. But military intervention is seldom a good solution and should only be a last resort. It can spark civil war or worse and it’s usually innocent civilians who suffer the most. About 62 million civilians were killed in the wars of the 20th century, compared to 43 million military personnel who died.

There are alternatives to violent intervention, but these are seldom seriously tried (there’s been hardly a peep of protest from our government about Syria). The peace scholar, Gene Sharp, came up with 198 non-violent alternatives. Possibilities include UN peace-keepers, negotiation, banning arms trade, blocking key investments, political non-cooperation and persuasion. Meanwhile the people of Syria stand in the streets for freedom in the most courageous of protest marches.

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