Crisis in Syria: A Perspective from a Humble African


I love Pawn Stars on the History Channel. People always try to pawn the most interesting things. For example, there was a particular person who was trying to sell an old war knife manufactured by the US military. The knife was triangular. Rick, the owner of the pawn shop explains to this person that German coats were very thick. He further explains that only this knife with this triangular design could penetrate these German coats in cases of close combat. Apparently, the Geneva Convention had banned this design of knife because it made it hard for the Red Cross to patch up the wounded. The US military therefore ceased manufacturing it. Chumlee, who works at the pawn shop then asks, “Shouldn’t there be a Geneva Convention against stabbing people?”

Simple logic makes the most sense. Eight hundred thousand people died in Rwanda in less than 100 days. Where was the international community then? There were no US destroyers, no tamahock missiles. There were only machetes and Africans murdering each other. US diplomats and politicians just sat back and waited for it to be over. Let us assume that the Hutus would have used chemical weapons on day 101 of the genocide. Does the use of chemical weapons on day 101 justify our inaction during the 100 days of slaughter? The DRC is still in turmoil. I see no US forces there. Are the waiting for the militia or government to use chemical weapons? Moreover, even if one of these groups did use them, would the international community care?

The international community should raise questions when the first 100 people die and let all hell reign loose when the first 1000 people die. Waiting for the use of chemical weapons to justify a war is hypocritical. Further, it is an indication of an underlying reason to go to war other than purely humanitarian grounds.

Let us now look at the UN. How often we fast forget history. Britain, Belgian and France used the UN to fuel an unnecessary war in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Now, the UN is useless to France and the USA. It is not the credibility of the US at stake but rather, the very existence and purpose of the UN. The world shall move into a free for all situation if the UN structure and mechanisms break down. Political, economic and military alliances will take shape. The world as we know it will no longer exist. The UN is critical to world peace, now and in future. This is a fact that we cannot afford to ignore.

The UN will fail if the US and its allies continue on this warpath in the Middle East and soon, elsewhere in the world. Why should African countries and other non-First world countries respect the outcome and mandate of any UN resolutions? Why should they do this when there are those in the UN who can just as easily ignore them? For example, why should we support the ICC cases against African leaders including Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto when in fact, those supporting these cases are ignoring another arm of the UN.

There can be no justification for supporting jihadists. Should the US go to war just because Obama and Assad played a game of truth and dare. Assad allegedly dared Obama and now its on. In other words, let us now give jihadists the upper hand. Is there a more stupid reason to go to war? Obama is just playing into Republican hands with these talks of a red line and American credibility.

Again, where is the evidence? It is not like the CIA and M16 are credible sources given their history. I remember photos of compounds taken by the CIA showing Saddam Hussein’s cache of WMDs. I remember an assault on US naval ships as the justification for starting the war in Vietnam. Contrary to the truth, these were all carefully fabricated lies. That is why the rest of the world needs the UN. A place where countries can question evidence through people they can vote and vouch for. It is not a full proof measure but it is better than relying on those who are consistently lying to advance their own agenda.

The UN can be an obstacle, no doubt, but is that not its exact function? That is, to prevent an escalation of hostilities. More specifically, is the UN not meant to make sure that a conflict does not draw in more countries and therefore lead to a more severe form of conflict. Moreover, if the structure of the UN is an impediment then is this not the right time to change it? This includes allowing African and South American countries to have more say in the UN. However, this is not acceptable or practical for the same countries claiming that the UN is an obstacle. How hypocritical?

France, the coward of the 20th century is now a robust, stalwart nation that declares war on other countries a whim. France is outspoken in Rwanda, Libya, Mali and now Syria. How can a bulldog unequivocally declare war on a cornered mouse? It is easy to fight off small babies when monsters frighten you. France cannot redeem itself by going after small indefensible countries, especially when it is riding on the sails of big brother i.e. the USA. Morality is morality even if it means standing up to big players on the international scene. It is time that France stops easy pickings and focuses on real players and human rights abusers around the globe.

Let us not kid ourselves. This is not a war to save Syria. The USA, Western nations, Russia and Iran have interests at play. This is simply a tussle between two powerful nations with strained relations. Arabs are just casualties of their own mistakes. These mistakes are about to be taken over and exacerbated by their elder brothers i.e. the USA, Russia and Iran.  The war raging on in Syria is much more complex than we choose to believe. The solution lies in a UN backed intervention and not a one-sided unilateral military attack.

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