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Friday, 24 February 2012

Syria and the big picture with the tiny detail.......

I can see why Syria is such a huge concern to the rest of the developed world; how can we sit by and watch women and children being slaughtered by an oppressive regime?  However, from the world leaders points of view, how can we intervene?

Libya is being cited as an example of the West being able to be more proactive in Syria’s conflict without actually joining it; but there is a telling difference – the Libyan rebels wanted us in there to help them.  The Syrian ones aren’t sure; no doubt concerned (whether rightly or wrongly) that accepting Western intervention will bring the wrath of anti Western arabs down on their heads. 

Of course the Syrian civilians, the innocent party in this seventh circle of hell, are only trying to survive the next twenty-four hours at any given time and see things significantly differently.  Especially those poor souls being bombed into obliteration in Homs; they don’t care who does it, they just want someone to stop their utter destruction.

So where does that leave the rest of us?  Should we go in, should we stay out?  Either way the blood of innocents will be on our hands; rest assured that the Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad, won’t take kindly to the West’s intervention into his country’s political, and literal, bloodbath.  I think he will immediately step up his genocide of anyone opposing him; it's been done before, and only a few decades ago.

Hitler did the same with European Jews; when he knew the end of the second world war was looming, he sent out an edict telling the camps, such as Auschwitz, that they had to 'eradicate the European jews' above and before anything else.  He was another dictator that cared little for his people and even less for others outside of his country; like Assad, he only wanted power - at any price.

But does that mean we should therefore abandon the people of Syria to their fate?  Therein lies the Catch-22 for the West and those that agree with them; either way they are, as the paraphrased old saying goes, “damned if they do, damned if they don’t.”

Russia and China have vetoed any attempts by western powers to intervene through the United Nations by saying it’s just a thinly veiled attempt to ‘corral’ the Arabic nations for their own purposes – neatly omitting their own reasons for blocking the various resolutions.  Basically that, whilst they will not gain in hard currency or power from a regime change in Syria, continuing to allow the bloodshed to carry on unabated sends international attention away from their own regimes and their less than stellar leadership. 

Putin is still reeling from the fact it’s been made clear his own election ‘win’ was rigged, as people who’d been dead for years were suddenly finding themselves able to vote.  I personally never knew that zombies/ghosts had the right to vote, and even came back from the dead to do so; of course it’s more likely that he just concocted the use of dead names and details to ‘bump up’ the numbers of his votes and thus ensure his victory – never thinking, his ego being what it is, that anyone would actually check the numbers.

His general eroding of the democratic freedoms that have been enjoyed by his country since the fall of the Berlin wall and Russia's gradual, but sinister, slide back into the Soviet Republic style of leadership much beloved by Lenin and Stalin should bring a chill to the rest of us; but of course, as Putin intended, most of are too busy looking at Syria.

As for China; well, their own human rights record is hardly the stuff of democratic legend is it?  Those of us old enough to remember the violent crushing of their own rebel uprising that called for regime change (and democratic freedom) in Tiananmen Square in 1989, will recall they were not averse to running their unarmed protesters down with a tank.  It’s somewhat (sadly) ironic that the Tiananmen Gate that’s located in the square is also called the ‘Gate of Heavenly Peace’ – hardly a fitting title when it’s forever tied to the bloodbath in 1989.

For those of younger years, there is also now the subjugated Tibetans that, without any other hope, are setting themselves on fire to try and bring their plight and the plight of their country to the attention of the world. Self emoliation is an horrific way to die - slow, agonising and torturous; it's certainly not an easy death to choose and shows their utter desperation.

Besides, both the Russian and Chinese regimes have nothing to gain by, yet another, dictator being overthrown because, to paraphrase another old saying “there but for the grace of God go we....”

But they should remember that all the Arab states have oil; the new God of the world, as it continues its steady run to the last drop, has the ability to upset the already unsteady global economies if the price per barrel continues to hurtle ever upwards - thereby threatening the burgeoning wellbeing of China to a large extent and Russia to a much lesser one, but one nonetheless.   

The Arab League, who wanted the UN resolution passed, will not look kindly on Russia and China’s vetoing of it for their own purposes.  Whilst I believe the price of oil will stabilise eventually for most of us, I do wonder if Russia and China might find themselves out in the cold when any deals are there to be made?

Of course that leaves us no clearer on what the western nations will do about Syria; intervene as the Arab League wants – or stay out as China and Russia demand?

This could also lead to much bigger conflicts – America’s already teetering on the edge of removing Iran from the map; and even if they don’t, Israel’s very ready to do so.   So to aid the Syrian rebels would be merely a small detour in that particular argument for the US.

Russia on the other hand is more than willing to back up their fighting talk with actions by attempting to prevent any western intervention in Syria.  As proven by what they did last November when two American carriers, USS Bush and USS Stennis, sat calmly off the Iranian coast and Russian warships sat by the coast of Syria (names unknown as Putin refuses to tell).

Could all this trigger yet another world war?  And who would side with who this time?  Russia has always been an ally to England, France and the US in the first two world wars, but it’s doubtful this war would be the same as they’re on different sides of the argument.

So perhaps that’s why our leaders dither whilst innocents die; why they bite their nails and spout rhetoric and soundbites, but don’t actually do anything.  What if we, the people, can’t see the wood for the trees; or perhaps they’re even blocking our view for fear of panic?  Not a conspiracy of silence, merely a fear of social unrest in their own backyards for I don’t know of a single citizen anywhere who wants another world war, not with so many trigger happy nations now holding their own little red buttons that lead to big scary nuclear weapons.  North Korea anyone?

As the world watches this high level round of brinkmanship play out, I’m reminded of another standoff between Russia and America a long time ago – it was called the Bay of Pigs.  Nikita Khrushchev knew not to call the bluff of the American president; he was a lousy husband but a stellar leader for his people........John F. Kennedy.  But, tellingly, Putin is not as wily and shrewd as Khrushchev and Obama is definitely not the forthright genius that Kennedy was. 

So, do I blame the other world leaders for holding their collective breaths to wait and see who blinks first?  No; But I do believe more could be done for the innocents that are dying in their thousands out there – aid, food, water.......basics for life that could be smuggled in the same way that the reporters are and the injured fighters are being smuggled out.  

We cannot ignore them, indeed we must not; we must not ever have another Neville Chamberlain playing appeaser of a tyrant and waving a piece of worthless paper and crying "peace in our time"; who, with that one action, forced millions into subjugation for a peace that didn't even last a year.

For surely, when we look at this far bigger picture and we understand it for all that it could be, the thought that still rings through our head should still remain the overriding care of the innocents......the women and children.  The ones who die slow, painful and terrifying deaths in a battle they're not even fighting and yet, because of this much bigger picture, get lost in all the detail - their suffering, unwanted in every way, is seen but unseen.  We must remember them........we must.

This is Simi, thanks for reading.......

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