First- let me say, I have been trying, unsucessfully, for days to try and right a thoughtful and coherent post on this matter. So failing, I’ll will offer this.
First, let me say, that if you have followed armed conflicts at all you will know that history tends to find the official estimates to be far too low. Sometimes, only by 2x. Sometimes, only 5x. And sadly, sometimes by 10x or greater.
And so far the official estimates place the dead from the “civil war” in Syria in excess of 140,000. Thats far larger then the entire population of Kauai, Hawaii where I lived for some years. Far higher then the areas I have lived most of my life. Indeed, for many years of my life more then the entire population in the area the size of Syria around where I lived.
And more then 2 million refugees. That’s more then 2 1/2 X the population of San Francisco. More then 3X the population of Seattle. And again- if you’ve followed armed conflicts you will know this number includes many of the brightest and best of Syria- people who may never return- and the likelihood of their return dwindles with each passing day.
And the latest saring gas attack appears to have killed over 1400. Nearly half the number killed in the 9/11 attacks. Almost 5oo times those killed in the boston marathon attacks, and well over 5 times the number injured there. More then 9 times the number killed in the Oklahoma City bombings, and more then twice the number injured.
And we do nothing. Because it’s not in our interests. Because violence is wrong. Because…
I am, generally speaking, anti-violence. But this cut’s both ways. Sadly the US has a long history of intervening to try and stop violence only when it suits our interests. And I’ll be the first to admit- we have often managed to make things worse rather then better.
And it sickens me that we don’t have the moral strength to stand behind our supposed most sacred beliefs. Freedom. Democracy. The very right of people to choose their own government- and- to make their own damn mistakes in doing so. (hence my consternation at the outrage over Egypt moving towards the “muslim brotherhood” in their first free elections in generations. A group I may despise- but part of freedom- of life- is learning from ones mistakes.)
I would argue that Clinton’s involvement of the US in the Kosovo/Serbian conflict is arguably the only US involvement in foreign wars , at least in my lifetime, that was not based predominantly on US interests- but on what was right. Arguably- his attempts in Somalia fall into this category- and it might be a good example of the failures of US society when it comes to conflicts without a clear benefit to the US.
On the flipside during that time of course is Rwanda. A half to a full million killed. 10-20% of the countries population. Many more raped and tortured. And a country that may never fully recover from the horrors.
I don’t know. Had I been born in Syria, and was more or less the same person I am, I would have been part of the Arab Spring uprising. And if I had survived this long- I would bethinking two things:
1)where is the world who claims to support our ideals
2)the world who claims to support our ideals is F.O.S. . They have allowed these atrocities to happen. Therefor- I will radicalize.
Millions have died because of our contries interests. And millions have died because of our dis-interest. I feel syria falls into the latter camp- and am astounded, and saddened, our country can only rally for the former.