Syria's Humanitarian Crisis and Our Bad Faith


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By David A. Turpin Jr.


I was outraged by the attacks in Paris, but I was not shocked. Anyone watching events closely in Syria has long ago lost the sense of naivete that leaves one shocked by the brutality of violence. 


Somehow many find opposing brutality and oppression in Syria is just too politically difficult. This disturbs me deeply. A failure to revindicate the most basic ethical principles, such as demanding an end to the bombing of civilian populations, is a failure at so deep a level that it raises questions about our ability to stand and fight for any cause that might require courage.


Perhaps, being optimistic, the widespread solidarity shown towards Parisians is an expression of a subconscious desire to regain the ethical ground surrendered when we should have been showing our solidarity with Syrians.


There is some basis for this optimism; I am seeing much sincere outrage at the political chicanery of the Republican Party as it viciously scapegoats refugees.


Outrage at Republican efforts to close the door on 10,000 refugees is a good thing. It would be even better if we were to open the door wider. It would be wiser and an uncompromising commitment to doing right, if we recognized that the solution to the crisis must be found in Syria and that it is self evident that Syrians in their vast majority will not suffer the Assad regime.


To save its rule, the Assad regime has burned Syria. This is the hard fact that must be grappled with.


The destruction of Syria, combined with the disastrous US occupation of Iraq have resulted in a massive humanitarian crisis. Millions fleeing war now join other millions fleeing wars and the disastrous results of imperialism and climate change in Africa. Europe is in crisis.


Though not the sole source of the crisis shaking Europe, the humanitarian catastrophe unleashed by Assad threatens the continued existence of the European Union.


If the instability of Europe is considered undesirable, acting in good faith (as Sartre used the phrase) to basic moral values is also a wise decision. Stopping the bombing of civilians in Syria will not solve very many problems, but it is the condition sine qua non for peace in Syria.

Putting an end to the bombing of civilians is one of the most immediate, compelling decisions we must make. It is a decision that we have for far too long hesitated to take.


About the Author


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