Tuesday, 28 May 2013

War by Proxy

The day after the EU lifted its arms embargo on Syria, and various western nations have begun to discuss arming "moderate" rebels, Russia has declared that it will fulfill its contract to deliver weapons to the Syrian regime. This means that Russia and the West are looking to arm two opposite sides of the same conflict, something that you don't have to be a genius to work out it won't go well.

The Cold War was dominated by smaller wars that were financed and effectively run by western and eastern nations, who were too afraid to fight one another, but still wanted to get the upper hand. If it does become the case that, in Syria, we are again creating armies to fight with our weapons, then history looks remarkably like its going to repeat itself.

It is going to turn into a war by proxy, with the people of Syria the only ones that can really lose in a situation that is increasingly looking like it will end via international action. By taking sides in this conflict in this way, all that is going to happen is that the same groups of people are going to have continuously bigger or better weapons to throw at each other, simply making the war of attrition one that is more bloodthirsty than before.

Clearly, the governments have not learnt the lesson that they should have known from the 20th Century, that everyone pumping guns and armaments into a conflict is going to make it get a lot more serious, and ensures that any path to stability will be as brutal and destructive as possible. If this war turns into one that is financed by other countries, then it will be an unnecessary escalation.

It seems like Britain, France and the US are currently stuck in a staring contest with Russia and its allies, both sides taking a step backwards in history by refusing to blink. They are increasingly forgetting what they should be doing, which is working out the best way to stop the war in Syria, and are instead turning it into a petty game of international chess, with the chessboard being Syria.

With the Syrian opposition a fragmented and unorganised series of groups, containing everyone from moderate political opponents of Assad to Islamists, and the government doings its fair share of brutally attacking its own people, there is not clear a good guy in this conflict, and efforts by the West or the East will only help to escalate the the confusion and instability.

Everyone needs to calm down and really think about how they can help the people of Syria. They have to throw themselves into humanitarian efforts, into supporting the important work that the UN is doing in providing shelters and aid, while attempting to work out exactly what is going on. To do anything else would be reckless.

There might come a time when international action, other than in a humanitarian or fact finding way, becomes necessary in order to help the Syrians, but, at the moment, this is not the time for that sort of thing. Lets not take this opportunity to make the war worse.

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