On Syrians, Palestinians and American OptionsPosted: June 4, 2012
I’ve just written the following in response to a comment on the tragic situation unfolding in Syria, but I think it bears posting here front and center on the main page. Further comments, as always, are welcome:
Ike, you are right that the butchery going on in Syria is heinous and deserves the highest possible condemnation. I also agree 100% with you that the human rights situation going on there is far more acute than “what is going on with the Palestinians.” In fact, Palestinian blogger Sami Kishawi recently made this very point in a recent post in which he also quoted a Palestinian protester in New York who said on YouTube:
The horrible things happening in Syria, even Israel didn’t do to us in Palestine. Anybody who says that the Assad regime is with Palestine and that the atrocities happening are in our favor is wrong, and if the freedom of Palestine was dependent on the slaughtering of Syrian children, I would tell you as a Palestinian that I don’t want to be free.
While this certainly should not be about “who is suffering more,” I do think it’s important to point out that the Syrian situation has been front and center in the mainstream media for at least a year – and has been met with world-wide condemnation, while the Palestinians’ plight, which is constant and ongoing, has flown well under the media radar – and not only is it not condemned by the West; it is actually enabled and made possible by our country. As I’ve written many times before, as Americans and as Jews, I/we are directly culpable in this situation – and, yes, this is indeed something I try to highlight in my blog.
On the issue of “pressing our government to do something about” the Syrian crisis: as tragic as this slaughter may be, I do not think the US has many good options to stop the bloodshed beyond what it is doing right now – and I strongly believe that US military intervention would only beget even greater tragedy. On this point I am in full agreement with Josh Landis – one of the smartest and most insightful Syria experts we have. I recommend his recent post in Syria Comment on this issue:
The US, Europe and the Gulf states want regime change in Syria so they are starving the regime and feeding the opposition. They have sanctioned Syria to a fare-thee-well and are busy shoveling money and arms to the rebels. This will change the balance of power in favor of the revolution. Crudely put, the US is pursuing regime-change by civil-war. This is the most it can and should do…
It seems heartless to stand by and do so little as massacres such as that carried out at Houla continue. More than 13 thousand Syrians have been killed in the last 14 months of revolution. All the same US intervention is not the solution. American troops killed over 10 thousand Iraqis in the first month of invasion in 2003. They killed a further 120,000 Iraqis in anger by the time the country was stabilized and safe to leave – and even then Iraq remains in turmoil and a new dictatorship seems to be taking shape. Car bombs are a daily occurrence in Baghdad.
In all likelihood, the Syrian revolution will be less bloody if Syrians carry it out for themselves. A new generation of national leaders will emerge from the struggle. They will not emerge with any legitimacy if America hands them Syria as a gift. How will they claim that they won the struggle for dignity, freedom and democracy? America cannot give these things. Syrians must take them. America can play a role with aid, arms and intelligence, but it cannot and should not try to decide Syria’s future, determine winners, and take charge of Syria. If Syrians want to own Syria in the future, they must own the revolution and find their own way to winning it. It is better for Syria and it is better for America.