Syria is too important to ignore

Sasan Kasravi

I have no shortage of angry political statuses on my Facebook feed, but one in particular stood out and has been bothering me.

It said, “Yet another pointless Middle-Eastern conflict initiated by the US.”

What bothers me about it isn’t how strongly I disagree, it’s that just six weeks ago that same friend, like most people my age, felt supported Syria.

He praised and supported its independent struggle for democracy. But now, when the same people are breathing sarin gas in their sleep, their struggle and their revolution is a footnote in the US’s evil plans against brown people.

It demonstrates an interesting phenomenon that George Orwell describes it in his essay “Looking Back on the Spanish War.”

Whether any given person believes a foreign atrocity really has or hasn’t happened, Orwell points out, is entirely based on that person’s “political predilection.”

You’ve already noticed how people tend to forcibly doubt or too eagerly accept a contraversy on whether or not it validates their political party.

“Stranger yet,” Orwell points out though, “at any moment the situation can suddenly reverse itself and yesterday’s proved-to-the-hilt atrocity story can become a ridiculous lie, merely because the political landscape has changed.”

Whether you supported it or not, you remember as well as I do how much momentum the Occupy Movement got from the Arab Spring and how much solidarity our age group as a whole felt with our Syrian brothers and sisters.

Take a look around at where we are now. Assad, the once villain, is considered by a lot of those same people to be the “lesser evil.”

Our concern for the welfare of Syrians has turned to us treating the question of who fired military-grade neurotoxins out of military missiles from direction of a military base as the sort of mystery we need Sherlock Holmes to solve for us.

Despite the many principles we claim to have, there’s a very short list of issues which actually matter to us and override everything else.

For most Left-leaning entering their twenties, one of these core principles is that US military campaigns, especially in the middle-east, are bad.

Orwell wrote that in Brittain before the second World War, “the Left had wrongly believed that Britain and Germany would never fight and were therefore able to be anti-German and anti-British simultaneously.”

Once the war was obvious, the Left suddenly expressed doubts that the German atrocities they had been so verbal about ever really happened at all.

Our distrust of US intelligence and disdain for previous US military campaigns compells people like my Facebook friend to want to ignore Syria because they can’t be anti-US military and anti-Assad anymore. And they have to be anti-US military.

It’s ironic that the generation of the 98% movement who so passionately condemned the elite for being selfish don’t see how 1400 of their fellow human beings being gassed as they sleep is their problem.

But to be fair, they don’t mean to be heartless.

The compulsion to think that the situation isn’t “that bad” is fed by the assumption that if things ever got “bad enough” that we and the rest of world would just march out and rescue the Syrians like we did the holocaust victims.

Most might be shocked to learn just how bad things can get without anyone stepping in to help.

One-million of Rwanda’s population of seven-million were killed in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

A 2001 National Security Archive report shows that the US was easily able jam the radio broadcasts that were inciting the genocide, but refused to “citing costs.”

It also indicates that US officials met with the leaders who they knew were going to enact the genocide to try to change their minds, but didn’t take any action against them when they didn’t listen.

The US even went as far as lobbying to remove the UN troops in Rwanda who actually were trying to stop the genocide.

No government officials was authorized to use the word “genocide” for three months after the start of the killings in Rwanda because admitting it was a genocide would require the US to intervene as mandated by to the 1948 Genocide Convention.

Similarly, the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention makes the us and the 188 other nations who signed it responsible for intervening in the use of chemical weapons.

The horrible truth about atrocities, Orwell wrote, is that, “These things really happened… They happened even though Lord Halifax [or US military] said they happened.”

The US is not an isolated nation. We can’t “stay” out of these things because we’re present before they start.

Be very certain, our only options are repeating our response to the Rwandan Genocide or intervening. We either choose to help these atrocities happen or we choose to stop them.

I say we stop them.