PERHAPS YOU are facing the same moral dilemma as I am:
What to think about Syria?
LET'S TAKE Syria first.
When it started, the choice for me was clear. There was this evil dictator, whose family had mistreated their people for decades. It was a tyranny with fascist overtones. A small minority, based on a religious sect, oppressed the vast majority. The prisons were full of political dissidents.
At long last, the long-suffering people stood up. Could there be any doubt about the moral obligation to give them all possible support?
Yet here I am, more than two years later, and I am full of doubts. It's no longer a clear choice between black and white, but between different shades of grey, or, if that is possible, different shades of black.
A civil war is raging. The misery of the population is indescribable. The number of dead terrifying.
Who to support? I envy those who have a simple yardstick: the evilness of the Americans. If the US supports one side, that side must surely be wrong. Or the mirror image: if Russia supports one side, that side must be evil.
Great powers have their interests, and intervene accordingly. But the roots of the conflict lie deeper, the issues are more profound.
What will happen, if the government forces lose the battle and the rebels win?
Since the rebels are divided into several mutually antagonistic political and military forces and unable to set up a unified command, not to speak of a unified political movement, it is highly improbable that they would be able to set up a unified, truly democratic new order.
There are several probabilities and possibilities, none of them very appealing.
The Syrian state may break apart, with each religious and national community carving out a mini-state of its own. The Sunnis. The Alawites. The Kurds. The Druze.
Experience shows that such partitions are almost always accompanied by wholesale expulsions and massacres, as each community tries to ensure its acquisition is ethnically "clean." India-Pakistan, Israel-Palestine, Bosnia, Kosovo, to mention only some outstanding examples.
Another possibility is some form of formal democracy, in which the extreme Sunni Islamists will win fair and honest elections, under international supervision, and then go on to set up an oppressive, religiously monolithic regime.