The deadly Sarin gas attack on a town in Syria got the world’s attention with the publication by the Media of bodies of dead children frozen in a death pose. Immediately everywhere comments on how shameful it is and we must stop this war. Why is nothing being done, we will be held accountable and we should be ashamed, etc.
The use of the word ”They” comes back a lot in comments, but who is they? Everyone wants to stop this war, but how? We must intervene, we must protest, again who is ”We”. Those making such comments are probably expressing honest feelings of disgust at such scenes. Hopefully many realize that a solution is not being pursued by the great powers, USA, Russia or China and other regional powers like Turkey and Iran are looking for political advantage. Israel is keeping quiet, this war is a good thing politically, Lebanon and Jordan are hoping not to be destabilize by the conflict on their doorstep. Iraq has its own problem trying to get rid of ISIS on its territory and is making progress at great civilian cost.
This Syrian Civil War is not about to end quickly, it has now been 6 years of indiscriminate killings, civilians are always caught in between, hostage to various armed groups. The casualties are by far civilians, war today has been escalated to levels of uncivilized barbarity seen centuries ago but thought to have disappeared with the modern age, well that was just a fiction.
To stop this war there would have to be an agreement by various rebel groups and governments to stop all fighting, ISIS would have to be neutralized and destroyed, finally the super powers, USA, Russia and China would have to agree to look for a solution which would not favour essentially their political interests. We all know that is not going to happen, this is not how powers operate today or in the past. War is about gaining an advantage on your opponents and to hell with the cost. Politicians are willing to sacrifice their own army, people, and as for the opponents or in this case the Syrians well they simply don’t count and if they have to die, well so be it, political, commercial and regional domination is far more important.
Obviously our politicians cannot speak the truth on what they want to achieve the good people they govern would not understand. So here in Canada our Prime Minister read a prepared statement in the House of Commons yesterday about the gas attack in Syria, it was rather surprising that he could not speak off the cuff clearly and express his feelings and opinion on the matter, well he had other things to think about like appearing today at the UN in New York to lobby for a Seat for Canada at the Security Council. Our Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said this attack was unacceptable and went on to speak as a mother of small children. Fine but what can Canada do in this case? We are not a super power and we are on the margins in the region, have always been. We have neither the military capacity nor is there any stomach in Canada to get more involved, the cost alone would anger many.
The situation in Syria and the region is a complex one and an old one, the root of the conflict is at least 100 years old. It all started with Britain and France plotting to destroy the Ottoman Turkish Empire that ruled the area for 500 years and turn it into a colonial outposts for their profit. In the 1930’s with the rise of Fascism in Europe and the growing power of the Soviet Union, destabilization of the area was the main game.
With the start of the Second World War, the Soviets played on the unhappiness of the population in the area under British and French Colonial rule to sow the idea of independence. The end of the war in 1945 saw a collapse of British and French Colonial power, replaced by a new super power the USA. In the 1950’s with the rise of Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt and the overthrown of the Monarchy, the Soviets gave full support to his Pan-Arab Socialist Movement, Syria was an easy target, Iraq another one where in a violent coup the Royal Family was massacre in 1958 and a group of military officer took over. The population in these countries were nothing more than pawns, serving the interests of either Soviet Russia or the USA. The whole region from Iran to Egypt and including the Levant was a big chess game between the USA and Soviets, oil played a part but many countries did not have significant oil deposit but they had strategic military importance.
Both the USA and Soviet Union encourage coups and wars in the region, often arming and paying various groups to push by proxy their agenda.
Massacres in Iraq by the late Saddam Hussein of his own countrymen with mustard or sarin gas was done in the 1990’s. In Syria Hafez Al-Assad the father of the current President Bashar, used his army to raze to the ground entire villages killing all who oppose or simply thought of opposing him in the 1980’s. His secret police and their prisons were feared by all. What we see now is just a continuation of the same.
Could politicians suggest we send our soldiers to fight on the ground there? No, in Canada our Prime Minister has been clear that he is looking for other ways to help. We are waiting 2 years after he came to power for his ideas on the matter. We withdrew our Air Force from Iraq to save money. We did take 40,000 Syrians refugees however they were selected following very specific instructions by Cabinet on who we would take mostly Christian Armenians. Though this was done with much criticism in Canada about cost. We now also have people crossing our US Southern Border into Canada to the alarm of the communities on that border.
So as long as Russia and the USA use Syria to wage war to gain influence or retain their advantage nothing will change and there will be more horrors to come. Just this week King Abdallah of Jordan and President Al Sisi of Egypt visited the White House to ensure that their insurance policy is renewed and the USA will continue to protect them with generous financial aid in the Billions of US $$$. Iraq is also looking for protection from whoever can deliver stability. Turkey’s President Erdogan is trying to give himself dictatorial powers and Russia is willing to help him, this means Turkey would leave the military alliance of NATO to forge a closer military union with Russia. This is a surprising development when one thinks of the acrimonious relationship between Turkey and Russia for the last 500 years. But when one sees an advantage, your thinking can change, the old enemy of yesterday because a good friend.
I know many have spoken of the immorality of war, however when it comes to political question, morality makes a quick exit, there is no morality nor ethical behaviour amongst countries, only the law of the mighty. He who wins not only writes history but is always right.
But people who leave comments on News chatlines should also honestly ask themselves if they really care for the population of Syria or the region in general. Do we only care because we do not like to see pictures of dead children. Are we willing to write to our politicians and say, Yes I am willing to pay more taxes to support a program to help Syria, Iraq, the Kurds, etc. I am willing to send my kids to war to end this conflict, I am willing to take in as many refugee as possible and help them financially, to do whatever is necessary to end these atrocities.
I am willing to bet that the answer is no to all those questions, so is human nature and our politicians know it.
Oh and let’s not forget North Korea and the nuclear question, now that is another tricky question. We do live in interesting times, a curse if you ask me.