I am a non-interventionist. I dislike war and killing in the name of profit margins and bottom lines. I abhor killing for oil, for territory, for religious reasons, for most reasons in fact. I don’t like the things our military has historically done abroad, and I dislike the way we meddle in the governmental affairs of the Middle Eastern region of the world, toying with real people’s lives in the interest of saving a few dollars or making a few dollars.
Syria is not Iraq. We don’t have oil interests in Syria, we don’t have any real interests in Syria, which is why it’s taken two years of Assad bombing his own civilians for us to even really notice. And that’s what it’s been. This is hardly a “civil war” in the way we understand the word. What this is, is a large part of the civilians refusing to obey a radical government and being murdered in cold blood by the hundreds of thousands for it.
What this is, is people trying to stand up and do the right thing. What this is, is a drowning person, being dragged to the bottom of the sea by the boat that was supposed to ferry them across safely, reaching their hand up and pleading for help; for two years.
Let me break a lot of these Middle Eastern internal conflicts down for you in the simplest, broadest strokes possible. The Middle East is a place of seriously long history, where religion is deep-seeded and a very important part of the culture. This region was once the seat of power in the world, contrary to what movies like 300 would have viewers believe, they were a very civilized people, introducing the first civilization to the world under Cyrus the Great which welcomed religious freedom and total freedom from slavery.
Since their days of dominance, Persians have a long and often sordid history, in constant conflict with one another. Their politics are incredibly intricate, often intertwined with their religion, as part of traditions that in many cases long predate our country. Due to some of these traditions that seem all but set in stone, religious extremists often come to power. They do not represent the bulk of the population, but they fit the mold of what’s been written for a leader, and thus they are given the power. In other cases, they seize power using their military, often funded by us as we allow countries to be passed from the hands of one dictator to the next, like cards in a Monopoly game.
When these leaders come to power, they often terrorize their own people, as with Assad, whose family has held power in Syria since the early 70’s. Eventually the people tire of this rule. In Syria they chose to protest. Assad’s answer was: “Go home or you’ll be killed” and for two years since then he’s been following through on his word, starting first with snipers, firing into neighborhoods and killing men, women, and children indiscriminately, followed by tanks, firing into residential areas randomly and at will, and then bombs, filled with metal shrapnel designed to inflict as much pain and damage as possible.
This, in response to protests.
With their government firing mercilessly upon them, and the only weapons they have being those of deserters of the government’s army, the Syrian people turned to the international community, and often specifically the US with their pleas for help. CNN and other networks showed photographs of murdered children, families, and rebel fighters as the bombings continued, day after day. Syrian rebels slipped out of the country, bearing messages, videos, recordings, pleas for help that fell on deaf ears in America.
The Arabian community began to take notice. Things started during the “Arab spring” so there was plenty going on elsewhere, but as the dust began to settle in other places and things were obviously out of hand in Syria, the Arab league began getting involved, to no avail. In short, no help was coming to the Syrian “rebels”.
Into this void stepped: Al-Qaeda.
Al-Qaeda is an organization often misunderstood by Americans. It necessarily just a terrorist organization, it is an Islāmic interest organization as well, and they saw need in the Islāmic community that many thought might be helped by the US. When we didn’t step in, Al-Qaeda saw a chance to make friends and offered what help they could in the form of weapons and fighters. Stepping in to help the needy when the US wouldn’t, perhaps in the hopes of gaining popularity in the Muslim world.
In other words, these are not Al-Qaeda sympathizers (well, they weren’t anyway) they are the drowning man, who didn’t slap away the one hand that DID finally try to rescue him just because the asshole on the yacht that didn’t help doesn’t like the rescuer.
I operate in life with two rules about violence: Don’t be violent unless it’s necessary, and it’s necessary when you can do some good with it somehow, in protecting those that can’t protect themselves, or protecting those you love, or whatever. Now, I’m a fairly big guy and I’ve certainly been in my share of fights. Last week, I was driving down the street in my neighborhood and see this guy, beating the crap out of his dog on the side of the road. I jumped out, yelled, starting coming at him, but he ran and got away.
Had that situation developed into a fist fight somehow, I think many people would have understood my reaction, or at least said “well he had good intentions” in helping the dog. Despite the fact it was a fight, even some of the most staunch pacifists might endorse my actions. Now, had I instead walked up to the old man who lives next door to me, slugged him in the jaw and taken his wallet, pretty much anyone would think of that as a bad act worthy of punishment. Both were fights, yet one might have been okay, while the other certainly was not.
This is how I view Iraq vs. Syria. Sure our actions in Iraq were wrong, or at very least the way we handled it was wrong. But that doesn’t mean Syria is. For once I’d like to see our country do something that doesn’t involve a damn profit margin. In our lifetimes so many horrible things have happened in countries that don’t produce oil and we’ve stood by and watched, whether it was that general kidnapping child soldiers by the tens of thousands, or South Africa, or whatever.
We’ve simply stood by and watched a lot of it happen, because we don’t have financial interests in the area. I’m a non-interventionist, but I also believe that when you can help the helpless, you should. Can’t just one time we take the responsibility we carry upon ourselves and do the right thing not because we’ll make money, but just because it’s the right thing?
Just because now and then that dog needs saving, even if we won’t be able to take his wallet afterwards?