September 16, 2013 by James Calbraith
- Did you know the civil war in Syria is actually still going on?
- Did you know people are still dying in their hundreds due to artillery fire, plane bombs, machine guns?
- Did you know the chance for a peaceful solution to the war is now actually further than ever?
Because you might be excused for thinking that between Putin, Obama and the UN all high-fiving each other joyously, some major development in the civil war had happened; that Assad was punished for his atrocities; that maybe even an end to this horrible debacle is in sight. As a matter of fact, no such thing occurred.
Let’s look at the situation a bit closer. Before: an estimated 100,000 killed in the war, some 99% of them due to “conventional” weapons. A minor opprobrium on part of the Western world, some angry journalists, a vast majority of global population largely indifferent to the conflict; however, as the news begin to seep to the media consciousness, the pressure slowly grows on the Western powers to “do something about it” – more importantly, the French, British and American leaders are itching to prove their moral fibre, hopefully without actually having to do anything.
The gas attack happens, and the shit seems to kick the fan; a few weeks later, however, it’s all over. The situation after: people keep dying; Assad doesn’t need to change anything for at least half a year, possibly more. Now, even if there is another chemical attack, he can clearly point the blame at the rebels: “of course it wasn’t me. I promised not to do it, see?”
The Western leaders can breathe a collective sigh of relief: they did something; they threatened to use power, and Assad refrained from doing… what exactly? Using the weapons he couldn’t control anyway, which are highly ineffective in an actual war, and which killed less than 1% of his opponents? And not even immediately – he still has months to comply with a resolution which is not even there yet.
The public is distracted, as always; the pacifists are satisfied, because there’s no war. The hawks are happy that Assad had, seemingly, his nose bruised. The on-the-fencers who don’t pay much attention to the news can also be glad – after all, everything turned out fine, right? Otherwise why all the celebration?
Putin and the Chinese can congratulate themselves on proving tough and unyielding to the West. And Assad, the main culprit of it all, can continue doing whatever it was he was doing with only the slightest of inconveniences. It’s a win-win-win situation all around.
Except of course for the Syrian civilians smashed to bits by cluster bombs, burned to death by napalm, and torn apart by scud missiles* for months to come. But then, nobody cared about these guys in the first place.
*) all confirmed by independent sources