I know very little about Syria. A year ago I couldn’t even have pointed to it on a map. I suspect a majority of the UK population are the same. What I’ve learnt recently has been because of reports about the escalating conflict. I wouldn’t presume to fully understand the detailed history and reasons for the conflict, and certainly wouldn’t be able to suggest a solution.
However, our government and mainstream media do presume to understand. The general story is that Syria is a country ruled by a brutal dictator who has responded to a peaceful protest by his own people with a harsh military crackdown. He is exceptionally brutal, killing unarmed civilians and even murdering innocent children. The peaceful opposition have had no choice but to pick up arms and try to fight back. It doesn’t take much reading of alternative accounts and informed opinions to see that this is a very one-sided view of the conflict.
Our government and media also seem sure of the solution to stopping the violence – humanitarian military intervention.
I think there is no such thing as humanitarian intervention. If there were, the UK and all the other countries that have sent troops to Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, would have also sent troops to, for example, the Democratic Republic of Congo. So why would the UK choose to intervene in one country over another? It’s common sense to see that it would do so when there is a benefit to the UK, but otherwise not. And if the decision to intervene is based on UK self-interest, then it isn’t humanitarian intervention.
Humanitarian intervention is just the packaging, the marketing of war, that persuades the population to buy it. And it seems so much of the population do buy it.
I fear for the Syrian people. There has already been so much bloodshed, and I don’t know how more can be avoided. I’m sure of one thing though, sending in Western troops will just make things worse.
Some suggested reading:
- The Houla Massacre (Media Lens)
- Dissecting U.S. Mainstream Media Reports on the Houla Massacre (Jeremy R. Hammond)
- Rebels Responsible for the Houla Massacre (National Review)
Update: Media Lens have a follow-up alert: ‘Shades of Grey’ – Rethinking the Houla Massacre