By Michael-Leonard Creditor
Listening to the news that March 15 was the fifth anniversary of the start of the current Syrian internal conflict it came to me that there’s no such thing as a “civil war” anymore.
Of course, I’m familiar with the joke about that phrase being an oxymoron. But, I mean an armed conflict between factions or regions within a country, rather than between separate nations.
Used to be, a nation/state could have a domestic conflict (again, I don’t mean a husband and wife argument) and it wouldn’t affect any other nation/state. But, that’s simply not true any longer. It is seeing the terrible results on the international stage of Syria’s five-year old war that creates and cements this new truth in my mind.
The entire world has been impacted by the war in Syria. The refugee crisis throughout Europe — and extending even to San Diego — is only the most obvious example. All Arab states are affected, the U.S. is involved, even the Pope has pontificated regarding Syria. Finally Russia has weighed-in and, incredibly, at last there are “peace talks in Geneva”.
And, because ISIS is involved in Syria, the effects extend even into Africa, where that group is gaining influence and attempting even greater power. The Syrian internal conflict has become a truly international war. More than that, we have reached a point of paradigm shift.
How big is big enough? … why are 50,000 lives more important than just 50? Or is 500,000 the magic number that finally makes international action take precedence over matters of sovereignty?
The world didn’t learn from Rwanda. The world didn’t learn from Bosnia. Nor from all the other internal conflicts and “little wars” that finally became big enough to warrant worldwide attention. How big is big enough? Usually it is the number of deaths that finally spurs other nations to act.
But, why are 50,000 lives more important than just 50? Or is 500,000 the magic number that finally makes international action take precedence over matters of sovereignty? Is the use of whatever forbidden weapon (barrel bombs, mustard gas) really the “red line” past which international action follows? After all, there are important issues of national sovereignty to be considered. And yes, that is important and correct.
Except in instances of armed conflict. That throws sovereignty issues out the window. People — people’s lives, their livelihoods, and even their safety — all trump academic issues of national sovereignty.
It is absolute insanity not to learn from all these times that some nation has had a domestic war and the international community has used that fact as an excuse to not take action. No longer can various international bodies and organizations wait when a domestic war breaks out. The United Nations, Arab League, the African Union, any and all others MUST resolve that any amount of armed conflict is the red line; armed conflicts will no longer be tolerated.
No longer can a war be permitted to continue for five years before “peace talks” are even begun.
Michael- Leonard Creditor was born in Tucson AZ; reared in Brooklyn NY; lived in Portland OR; currently resides in Clairemont. Three main professions: photographer, folklorist, radio program host. Philosopher, and life-long Liberal.