Aleppo: The 21st Century’s Sarajevo?


Since March 15,2011 the nation of Syria has been in the grips of a violent civil war which has since grown into a proxy conflict involving up to 45 nations. Hundreds of thousands have died, millions have been displaced, and, after all of that the government led by President Bashar al-Assad remains in power. Furthermore, over the past 48 hours, the primary battleground for this bloody conflict, the city of Aleppo, has finally fallen after years of battle to pro-Assad forces who now, according to the UN and various humanitarian watch groups, are carrying out atrocities in formerly rebel controlled areas of the embattled, ancient city.

It is a conflict that the UN and the international community as a whole have been unable to quell and, it could be argued, may have even exacerbated the conflict. It is certainly true that without Russian-Iranian intervention on the side of Assad and US intervention on the site of the Syrian rebels that, most likely, this conflict would not have lasted as long as it has and the toll in human suffering would not be as high. From the “red line” talk that President Obama declared and then backed away from to the use of chemical weapons which may or may not have been used by the rebels instead of Assad, to the airstrikes from both Russia and the United States that seem to go astray every now and again to kill each other’s personnel on the ground in Syria, this conflict has, truly, devolved into a miasma of violence and confusion to which, seemingly, there are no winners and only losers.

There is no question now that the Syrian civil war is a humanitarian disaster. The only question that remains unanswered now is how bad will it get and will the conflagration spread? I cannot help but feel that we are on the precipice of another Great War. That Aleppo may become the Sarajevo of the 21st century. Where it will become the city that plunges the world into global conflict. What is even more astounding is the pro war rhetoric is not coming from the political right in Europe and the United States but is coming from the political left. The anger and frustration over Russia backing Assad and, presumably now, helping him defeat the rebel forces who arose out of the Arab Spring movement in 2011, despite sanctions, despite hashtags, despite finger wagging and condemnation has proven the futility of the hashtag era. It is action, not words, that dictate events and so long as we continue to rely on half measures, and bombing, and drone strikes, and clandestine operations very little will be impacted other than the death toll unless the will of the enemy, whoever that may be, is broken.

That is what war truly is. It is an extension of politics. It is what happens when two, opposing political wills collide and one must win out. There has to be a goal. In Syria, it has always felt like the Assad government had a clear goal in mind: preserve the government and crush the armed uprising. The rebels? Well, from what I can tell they were a mish-mash of various groups with different agendas and ideologies who’s only common ground was a desire to defeat Assad.

This is where my frustration comes in to play. Did the United States government truly think that, without US troops on the ground or UN forces, or any sort of cohesive leadership that the Syrian rebels were going to win? Also, how in the hell is that possible when we just saw what Iraq turned into as soon as US forces left? How could we have miscalculated so badly and why, why would we actively assist in a civil war conflict on behalf of a side that has no government, was not democratically elected, and has fundamentalist, extremist Islamic elements in its coalition which we then decided to arm? It is, on its face, stupidity and ineptitude on an incredible level which makes me think if we were to look deeper something else, something much more nefarious, must be at play.

Furthermore, what is even more infuriating now are people essentially calling on the international community to “do something” all while they conveniently tweet and post this desire from the comfort of their own homes thousands of miles away from the conflict. To them I say; what the fuck do you mean? I’ll tell you what you mean. You mean war. You mean war with Russia and you mean war with Iran. You mean death and devastation on a scale not seen since World War II. You mean millions of dead, millions displaced, and trillions of dollars spent on death and destruction. That is what you are asking for. Stop talking in the abstract like you don’t understand what a no-fly zone would mean over Syria. Stop pretending that you are not asking the military to sacrifice thousands of lives while you have no intention of joining in the effort beyond maybe throwing some money to the cause, money that you have no clue if it actually makes it anywhere that matters. Like the extent of your effort will be some more tired, useless, self aggrandizing posts about how you hate war and support the troops and love America. I am tired of people talking a bunch of bullshit, from the POTUS to the average Joe Blow, and then not doing an actual goddamn thing about it. We get it. You are a good person. You don’t like seeing bad things happen and you want someone else to fix it. Well guess fucking what? Wishing on a star is well and good but it doesn’t do shit in the real world.

The world didn’t fail Syria. Syria failed Syria. A faction rose in armed rebellion against a democratically elected (and I understand probably not legitimately but guess who’s problem that is to fix? That’s right! Syria’s!) government and that government, LIKE ANY GOVERNMENT IN THE WORLD, opposed violence with violence. Now what Assad’s forces are doing is an atrocity. They are despicable and I have every faith that whatever hell exists beyond this life Bashar al-Assad has a prime time, Lake of Fire beachfront spot awaiting him. However, before you declare you want the United States and her allies to sound the drums of war and plunge more countries into fire and death and suffering, ask yourself this; would the world had been a better off if World War I had only been a war between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Serbia? No doubt it would have been brutal, as their conflict was. No doubt atrocities would have been committed, which they were. But the scale, the scale would not have been Europe drowning in blood for four years. The scale wouldn’t have, in all probability, included the millions that perished in the Russian Revolution which was spurned by the Great War, nevermind the future ramifications it had in the form of Stalin’s purges. Germany wouldn’t have lost a generation, wouldn’t have been forced to sign the untenable Treaty of Versailles and probably wouldn’t have given rise to Hitler. France wouldn’t have seen nearly a quarter, A QUARTER, of her male population turned into casualties. Men from nations around the globe under the control of the British Empire wouldn’t have been taken from their homes in India, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand and sent to die in the mud and the blood of the trenches in Western Europe.  That is what you are inviting. That is what you are so trivially tweeting about and posting about. That is what you are asking for.

That is what is truly astonishing to me. That some of these same people, the one’s asking for another World War, are the same ones that denounced and decried the war in Iraq. Why? Was Saddam Hussein not a dictator who brutally murdered his own people? Had he not used chemical weapons to kill thousands of Kurds? Hadn’t he, unlike Assad, actually invaded another sovereign nation in Kuwait? Why was the Iraq war such a travesty and yet now war with Russia over Syria’s civil war is preferable? Here’s a spoiler for everyone; it isn’t. You’re just talking a bunch of bullshit and talking bullshit is what gets you into deep shit.

It is a tragedy what is happening in Syria but how many times are we going to step in and try to fix other people’s problems only to make them worse before we realize that sometimes a nation must tear itself apart to be born anew? That the tree of liberty must be watered from time to time with the blood of Patriots isn’t an axiom that only America can lay claim to? If we wanted to oust Assad then we needed to go in full force but then if we had done that what government were we actually backing? Just another Muslim Brotherhood? Just another evil regime that would’ve been carrying out atrocities?  I am tired of these half assed, half measures military operations where we just throw money and bombs at a problem and hope it goes away. That is not how it works, clearly. We need to stop all these proxy wars and interventions and go back to declaring war. To bend the economic and national will to the conflict. To fully invest. To engage in Total War. If we aren’t willing to do that then we shouldn’t be doing anything at all.

So the next time you think we should do something to stop Russia/Iran/Assad all I’m asking is that you come right out and say what you want. You want another global war. You want to kill millions of people. You want to make the Middle East and Eastern Europe and Israel battlefields littered with human dead and smoldering ruins. If you truly believe that attempting to save thousands of lives in Aleppo from a conflict started in Syria by Syrians is worth taking millions in places thousands of miles from that poor, destroyed city then come right out and say it.

If not, then shut up.

Oh, and if you want to protest and put political pressure on someone why not Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates who, as the six wealthiest nations in the Middle East have all refused to take in a single Syrian refugee. If the Middle East wants to be autonomous and independent and free of foreign influence then they should start taking care of their own goddamn neighbors when the aren’t too busy using slave labor to get ready for a World Cup in 2022.


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