In the context of international relations, realism is an approach that perceives global politics as being guided by the competitive individual interests, which are rooted in the human nature. It is concerned with the determination of facts and the drawing of conclusions using reason. According to this perspective, the international system operates in a state of anarchy, implying that there is no central government, which acts as a source of authority to govern nations. Besides, the perspective focuses on the interstate level of analysis. In this view, it does not consider non-state actors.
The result of the realism perspective is a creation of the Hobbesian world, whereby the international arena functions in a self-help system, making nations concentrate on advancing military capabilities to gain relative power. As a result, there is a creation of security dilemma and the constant arms race between states. Thus, this paper discusses reasons the United States has not armed the Syrian rebel army to overthrow the Assad regime utilizing realist perspective
Notably, realism is not concerned with the morality, but seeks to maximize their interests strategically. It is evident that arming the Syrian rebel is not agenda in the US national interest. This is because realism is not concerned with spreading democratic views. This is grounded on the fact that a realist may cooperate with a non-democratic country. The fact that the likelihood of a leader remaining in power for an extended period than in a shorter time is higher provides another reason the US did not arm to Syrian rebel. In this view, the terms of the agreement may last longer than cooperating with a democratic country. Evidently, there has been no cooperation between the US and Assad’s regime, implying that the spread of democratic ideas is not on the US agenda. The anarchy state of Syria makes life dangerous and produces a self-help environment for its citizens. Realist approach is founded on the principle of sovereignty and non-intervention. Therefore, it would not be right for the US to arm against the Syrian rebel.
Moreover, arming a rebel group has proved unsuccessful previously in the US. For instance, in Afghanistan during the Soviet-Afghan war, whereby the US armed the “Mujahideen”, and the US weaponry were backfired by the Mujahideen against the US. In fact, changes in the regime character do not change foreign policy for the reason that they do not interfere with the configuration of interests.
Realism operates at the interstate level. Therefore, arming the Syrian rebel force would be against one of the principal theories of realism because the Syrian rebel force is not a legitimate government, and it does not contain applicable leadership. From the realist perspective, it would not be prudent for the US to arm the Syrian free army. Additionally, a realist can argue basing his or her proposition on self-help opportunity, whereby the US should focus on offering resources to help the Syrian government because they could be used to build their power. This is in addition to pointing to the idea of a zero-sum game. Many leaders have learned that helping one side may be dangerous later. For example, When the US armed and fought side by side with the Taliban, they became trained and turned against it. They argue that by doing the same, the helped side may later turn against it.
Arguably, if the Syrian government is weakened by overthrowing Assad, America will become stronger than it was. However, in this case, the balance of power is given more significance than the building of absolute power. This is the reason a realist would advocate the use of resources by the US to build its power. This type of power is vital because it can be applied to lessen the Syrian power. Notably, the US has the ability to influence the war. Arguably, the US has the largest army, implying it is stronger compared with other states in the world.
It is important to note that avoiding engaging in the war has an orthogonal benefit of the US in the sense that it minimizes the chances if mission creeps. Besides, it allows the US to stand aside if any party begins to lose. Losing would be more costly in reputational terms, especially if the US invests heavily in the conflict. Nevertheless, if Assad is overthrown, then, the Sunnis will take over and kill many Shiites. The US would not like to act as a facilitator for such as a blood bath. Instead of arming against Syria, the US government has imposed many sanctions, For example, the US president, Barrack Obama has given Assad time to change his regime because of its complications. The country lacks black and white solutions because of the existence of many political, social, ethnic, and religious factions.
This paper would be incomplete if the realist argument for the US arming the Syrian rebels would not be mentioned. Realism focuses on survival. In this context, security is key to survival, and there is a need for the US to minimize its threats regarding its security. Syria is one of the US security threats because of its concentration on the nuclear production. In this case, the Assad regime is the US enemy and his power directly enhances Iran’s threat against the US. The fact that the realist perspective supports sovereignty and non-intervention, overthrowing Assad does not imply that the US is attempting to spread neither human rights abuses nor stop them. In fact, it would be a direct action aiming at weakening its enemy. In this view, it would be wise for the US to arm against Syrian rebel.