Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Save Aleppo! Save Syria!

Today, I signed a petition put together by a doctor working in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo (see: Obama & Merkel: Please act to save our lives in Aleppo).  I doubt it will make much of a difference, however, as the leaders of the free world have largely ignored the plight of the Syrian people, much to the joy of Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad and his fellow dictators in Russia and Iran, not to mention terrorist groups like ISIL.  More than 250,000 people have died in the war; more than four million refugees have fled the country and another eight million are internally displaced (see: Lifeline Syria Facts and Statistics).  Hundreds of thousands of these refugees have made their way to Europe, triggering the worst migration crisis on the continent since World War II (see: Migrant Crisis: Migration to Europe explained in seven charts).  And remember when our modern-day Neville Chamberlain, U.S. President Barack Obama said that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would be a red line?  Well Mr. President, chemical weapons have been used on several occasions and you've sat on your hands and done nothing - and nothing is exactly what your word is worth to both your allies and your enemies.  No wonder then that neither the U.S. nor its allies have taken meaningful action to end the Syrian conflict.

And by meaningful action, I don't mean trying to talk Assad and his allies into ending the slaughter of Syrian civilians.  I mean force - the only thing that dictators like Syria's Assad, Russia's Vladimir Putin, the Iranian ayatollahs and terrorist groups like ISIL and Hezbollah understand. The sad truth is that the U.S. and her allies missed the best chance to end the conflict with limited military action years ago.  Had the West acted to neutralize Assad's air force the same way they did Libya's when people in that country rose up against their dictator, the war would have been over years ago; thousands of deaths could have been prevented, there would not be a massive flow of refugees into Europe, and terrorist groups like ISIL and Hezbollah wouldn't have the foothold in Syria that they have now.  But alas, the leaders of the free world failed to act.  So now, instead of planes from the world's democratic countries flying in the sky over Syria to defend civilians from the wrath of their dictator's air force, there are instead Russian warplanes flying over Syria bombing Aleppo and other civilian centres in the country alongside Assad's planes.  Clearly, it is our enemies who have the courage to defend their interests in Syria, whilst the democracies, led by a feeble U.S. president, sit on the sidelines.

I do believe, however, that it is still possible for the free world to use military force in order to save the lives of civilians in Syria.  But it means that somebody's going to have to have the guts to stand up to Putin and tell him that the air forces of the democracies will defend Syria's civilians, even if it means shooting down his planes.  Okay, maybe you folks reading this think I'm crazy because doing what I'm proposing would inevitably lead to a third world war, right?  I don't think so, for the simple reason that as tough and aggressive as Putin has acted over the last few years, he's not yet ready to take on the full military might of the Western democracies.  So I say we stand up to the petty Russian dictator on Syria now, while we still can, before his forces are ready to draw hands with us.

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