“I wonder how many people I’ve looked at all my life and never seen” – John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent
ABC News is reporting that Russian “anti-terror” units have landed in Syria. This is not good news for the anti-Assad freedom fighters. Russia is a long-time supporter of the brutal Assad regime and is not too keen on seeing it’s buddy (and trading partner) fall.
For those who haven’t been watching, we’re now a full year-and-a-half into the “arab spring” which started back in late 2010 when Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in protest of police corruption and brutality. Discontent with oppression throughout the Arab world had been building, and Bouazizi provided a spark.
The mass outcry led to the fall of Tunisia’s government as well as Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. A year prior the Iranians had tried to revolt (like I said, the discontent was already there) but were thrown under the bus by the international community. (The main culprit was the U.S., whose president appeared to be playing some realpolitik game that needed Iran as a counter-weight to Israel …I’m not coming out for invasion here, but a few words of support would have gone a long way.)
Next on the docket was Lybia – which has considerable oil wealth and thus considerable reason for U.S. involvement in shaping the new regime. And now what of Syria?
The theories are all over the place out there. It is rumored that the U.S. wants the threat of overthrowing Syria as a bargaining chip to bring Iran to the table and thus does not actually want Syria to fall to the insurgents. Right or wrong, it is hard to deny that we bombed the heck out of Libya to prevent “human catastrophe” but have looked the other way on the same catastrophe in Syria. (Don’t even get me started on Rwanda & Sudan and other inconsistencies in stated policy.)
Don’t take this as me coming out in support of militarism for the purpose of bringing Pax Americana to the world. I’m much prefer staying out of foreign entanglements unless one can demonstrate a legitimate national security interest for involvement – but I am willing to accept far reaching arguments for the sake of national security. Does Syria cross the bar? I don’t know – but if they don’t then Libya didn’t either. (And if they do then Iraq did too.)
Regardless of U.S. foreign policy, we’re still pulling for the rebels. “Freedom is one of the deepest and noblest aspirations of the human spirit” – Ronald Reagan.
We are also hoping for a quick end to the bloodshed. Somebody’s children are in grave danger tonight, and somebody’s parents too. There is human tragedy afoot while the governments of the world jockey for position. While they cast all human struggles in the light of themselves and their ever-important dispositions on the world, real people are fighting and dying for freedom, for hope, for a dream of something more.