The Dead Don't Debate
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The Syrian opposition wants and needs both lethal AND non-lethal aid and support.
The Ultimate Consequence Of Being Decidedly Indecisive.
In May, Senator John McCain travelled to Syria and met with opposition leaders. His trip only lasted for a few hours, and took him a mere one-kilometer across the border inside of Syrian territory. Apparently, however, that sufficed to determine with a great amount of certainty that direct American military intervention to 'turn the tide and end the war' is what the US's response should be.
I agree with Senator McCain. Partially.
On 18 July, Secretary of State John Kerry landed in a helicopter to visit the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, which is where more than 100,000 Syrian refugees now live in the unimaginable squalor only found inside of a refugee camp. In similar fashion to Senator McCain, his visit was also quite brief; in actuality, it was even briefer than Senator McCain's, as it was a mere 40-minutes in total. During and after his visit, Mr. Kerry chose to highlight that the United States is the largest provider of humanitarian aid to Syrians affected by the ongoing conflict, both inside and outside of the country, and that type of non-lethal aid should continue.
I also agree with Secretary of State Kerry. Partially.
Then on 23 July, in an open letter to senators, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Martin Dempsey outlined military options for possible American military involvement in the Syrian conflict.
And so after months and months of bureaucrats in Washington doing what they do best these days'childish, non-stop bickering like a bunch of spoiled kids on a playground'they somehow still just don't get the point at all.
The point is this: since the conflict in Syria began, nearly 100,000 Syrians have already been killed, a further 1.7 million Syrians have been displaced, and these numbers continue to grow each-and-every second. The fact-of-the matter is the Syrian opposition wants and needs both lethal AND non-lethal aid and support.
With numbers like that, even an iota of common sense is enough to determine that both of Washington's Big John's'Mr. John McCain and Mr. John Kerry'are right. And that isn't rocket-science!
Yet as one who in the not-so-distant past lived in Syria, I find myself wanting to look beyond the all-too-expected responses put forth by the interventionalists and the non-interventionalists alike, beyond the ridiculous bickering coming from both sides of the aisle, and into the hearts and minds of the Syrian people.
I find myself wondering about the fate of the young married couple and their first small child who lived in the same building my family and I lived in during our stay in Syria. Do they continue to live in the same building? Have they fled the country? Are they even still alive?
I find myself wondering about the fate of the young Kurdish guys who ran a juice and sandwich shop I regularly frequented just outside the Old City in Damascus. Is their shop still in business? Do they continue to live in Damascus? Have they taken a more active role in the conflict? Are they even still alive?
And I find myself thinking about an Islamic scholar I studied al-Qur'an under while living in Syria; yet about his fate I am not left to wonder. He was blown into eternity by a suicide bomber earlier this year.
And so while the world sits back and watches the latest news to find out which professional athlete will be the next to make headlines for using performance-enhancing drugs, who's dating who in Hollywood, what the Royal couple is going to name their first-born (it was a boy, by the way), the Syrian story continues on in this way: another innocent Syrian child is slowly dying of starvation in a refugee camp, desperately needing more food (AKA ' non-lethal aid). An entire family is being brutally murdered inside of their home, which could have possibly been thwarted had they had weapons (AKA ' lethal aid) in order to defend themselves with. And a teen-age boy is deciding to take up arms and fight in the war when he should instead be getting ready to begin high-school.
Indeed, the suffering continues whether we allow ourselves to believe so or not, and all of the 'debate' in the world is not going to 'turn the tide' in Syria. Well, that is, unless the debate goes on long enough for Syrians to effectively end the war themselves by killing each other off.
Jeff d. Patterson, Middle East Specialist: While the ashes were beginning to settle in New York City with the setting of the sun on 9/11, Jeff D. Patterson was unpacking his bags far, far away from American shores; far, far away from his family and friends; far, far away from his homeland. He was starting a new phase of life in a region of the world he would call ‘home’ for most of the next decade. Jeff was taking his first breaths of Middle Eastern air, thinking of the world becoming a better place… In contrast to most... (more...)