Beyond the Conflict


Syria (Photo credit: Yishac – Isaac Alvarez i Brugada)

Syria has become the hot topic of the moment with President Assad as the west’s new figure of hate. The Obama Administration wants a limited military response to the chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians, allegedly by the Syrian Military. And as AP reported, ‘Syrian President Bashar Assad has warned there will be “repercussions” against any U. S. military strike launched in response to a chemical weapons attack in his country.

Does the threat of military escalation resolve anything for the Syrian People? They would be the first to suffer, as a Syrian-born woman told Senator McCain in Phoenix, Arizona:

And the so-called collateral damage won’t stop there. The humanitarian repercussions will be unacceptable. Haven’t our politicians learnt anything from recent conflicts in the Middle East? Or is the US administration under the naïve belief that by siding with rebels supported by Al-Qaeda prevents terrorist responses? Oh, I’m the naïve one forgetting that it is acceptable to back both sides. The west was selling arms to both Iran and Iraq back before Saddam Hussein was the bogey man. And what about super-power dealings with the Taliban? Okay to arm the Taliban when they are fighting Russia. Terrorists can be valuable allies, when they oppose an evil empire.

President Carter said, “The chemical attack should be a catalyst for redoubling efforts to convene a peace conference, to end hostilities, and urgently to find a political solution.” But that is too much like common sense. Fortunately the Russians are also using their heads and attempting to move towards a peaceful outcome.

I don’t claim to be a Middle East expert but I have lived for enough decades to recognize that the situation is complex with multiple political and religious sides, and small sparks have a tendency to grow if fanned by outside forces that have their own agendas. Whether this will escalate into World War III is a frightening question, which I pray the politicians are seriously asking before they count the benefits… to themselves.


Fellow writer Roger Colby’s apocalyptic ‘This Broken Earth’ should serve as a warning since it starts from a crisis in Syria. . On his insightful blog, Roger Colby says, “I am not writing this blog to make you go out and buy the book, but simply because I’m pretty freaked out about the fact that a prediction I made in my novel is slowly becoming a frightening reality.

Sadly his excellent novel is a warning that will be dismissed as science fiction and not reality. But what about history, do we ignore that at our peril? As G. W. F. Hegel said, “What experience and history teach is this – that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.” This has been said in other ways by greater minds than mine:

History should demonstrate that the solution lies deeper than opposing dictators when they are already at war with their people. The violence starts when dictators are first allowed to emerge. WWII began many years after Hitler was given the financial backing and the arms. Before the Jews there were others suffering and yet he was funded and ignored. Why were Wall Street financiers supporting Krupps, the largest German arms manufacturer?

The dictators of tomorrow are being created today in our name. Reacting now with violence only escalates Syria’s civil war and the same applies further afield. Sadly the solutions to today’s conflicts lie yesterday… when our nations were selling chemicals and arms to Syria, and probably to the opposition. Where were Obama, Kerry, Cameron, Hague and all their cronies when the export deals were being approved? Counting their shares in the manufacturers? Looking for votes? Where are they sending the next batch of death to as part of the despicable arms trade? The next hotspot that gets them spouting from their power pulpit when it makes the headlines.

Maybe as The Onion wisely reported, “a new poll of Americans has found that though the nation remains wary over the prospect of becoming involved in another Middle Eastern war, the vast majority of U.S. citizens strongly approve of sending Congress to Syria.”

Sending politicians to fight the wars they want sounds inspired. Instead of being cannon fodder the troops could run Congress or the House of Commons. Beyond the amusement of suits fighting, history shows that there was once a time when the best leaders were willing to be there in the front line, leading from the front. Forget America’s armchair Presidents and remember George Washington, even if he fought us Brits and won.

Yet another British rival, Emperor Napoleon led his armies to victory and then defeat. And we have our own warrior leader, Boudicca. So why do politicians send others to fight? Are the troops our modern day champions fighting it out for the spoils? But wasn’t the combat meant to be single combat?

Obama .v. Assad. Bare-knuckles, swords, or pistols at dawn? Or words of wisdom and a pen?


There are non-violent ways and there are many who have proved that path can work. I can count one of the campaigners for the Abolition of Slavery as both my ancestor and an example of what is possible. My 4th Great-grandfather, Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton was a tireless advocate of choosing the right way. It’s not the easy route, especially when there are alternative options, even ways-out.

I will end by quoting Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton’s Quaker brother-in-law and friend, Joseph Gurney who wrote to him when he became an MP saying, “Do not let thy independence of all party be the means of leading thee away from sound Whiggism. Let us take special care to avoid the spirit of Toryism. I mean that spirit which bears the worst things with endless apathy, because they are old.”

This apathy still leads the Tory descendants and their allies in the US to distract from the real issues with their march to war. We have to

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