More dropping of bombs on Syria is not the answer

Russia is preparing to join the international club of bomb dropping on Syria (the club now includes France).  Russian President Vladimir Putin may seek, ironically, a U.N. resolution to let him drop bombs on Syria legally.* (see note below).

Most of the bomb droppers are aiming for the Islamic terrorist group ISIL, though the Syrian government under Assad has a wider range of targets, and no one is quite sure upon whom the Russians (who want to support the Assad regime) will be dropping bombs. The U.S-led coalition is trying to drop its bombs in a way that destroys ISIL while leaving untouched the other, more moderate groups fighting Assad’s forces and ISIL.

“Montage of the Syrian Civil War” By Collective [CC BY 1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

If all this bomb-dropping sounds like a good reason to flee Syria for anywhere else, well, many Syrians agree.

Apart from the fact that the dropping of bombs on a sovereign nation without permission (Syria) is a violation of the United Nations Charter and international law, the dropping of bombs is, despite what the U.S. commander of the bombing in Syria and Iraq claims, not a “precise” way of ending or limiting war. Credible sources compiled by Airwars estimate that between 584 to 793 innocent people have been killed in coalition airstrikes in both Syria and Iraq.

Officially, coalition commanders have confirmed only two (2) civilian deaths so far from U.S.-led bomb dropping. Given that there have been more than 2,500 coalition airstrikes in Syria alone, this number seems impossibly low.

Call me a skeptic, but increasing the number of nations that are dropping bombs on Syria, whomever the intended target may be, is not a humane and effective way of bringing peace, prosperity and democracy to the Syrian people. The “war on terror” has served to create more terror and, through war-inspired recruitment, more terrorists. Though President Obama stated in his latest speech at the U.N. that ISIL “depends on perpetual war to survive”, the United States seems prepared to stay the course of perpetual war:

I’ve said before and I will repeat:  There is no room for accommodating an apocalyptic cult like ISIL, and the United States makes no apologies for using our military, as part of a broad coalition, to go after them.  We do so with a determination to ensure that there will never be a safe haven for terrorists who carry out these crimes.  And we have demonstrated over more than a decade of relentless pursuit of al Qaeda, we will not be outlasted by extremists.

But while military power is necessary, it is not sufficient to resolve the situation in Syria.  Lasting stability can only take hold when the people of Syria forge an agreement to live together peacefully.  The United States is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict. But we must recognize that there cannot be, after so much bloodshed, so much carnage, a return to the pre-war status quo.

But if the dropping of bombs is ultimately “not sufficient to resolve the situation in Syria”, why are we, in the short term at least, perpetuating war and inevitably killing innocent people while helping to create millions of Syrian refugees? Is it really possible to bomb terrorism out of existence? Did it work in Afghanistan? In Iraq?

What is necessary is to help provide the people of the Middle East with a credible alternative–both justice and development– to religious violence and state violence. Large-scale, ideological terrorism of all sorts is best fought by education, democracy and diplomacy (call it nonviolent resistance), affirming a model of secular/religious compassion that denounces oppression and war. The propensity for dropping bombs on international conflicts only adds to the sum of cruelty and suffering.

P.S.– And it wouldn’t hurt if we stepped up our acceptance of Syrian refugees, which, as this writer suggests, will also help to counter ISIS. Via the NY Times.

(9/30) Note– Russia has now officially launched airstrikes in Syria and claims that its bombing is legal because it was requested by Assad.

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