Syria has been much in the news lately here in the USA. My question is — Why?
I grew up on five continents – Asia, North America, South America, Africa and Europe. Growing up among cultures made me open to everybody. I liked some places I lived better than others but I always saw people as people. They weren’t Mexican, or African, or Black or White, or Chinese, or Arab. They were just people.
When I came to the USA to go to college I learned a lot very quickly. I learned about racism and how divided our country was. I learned that people weren’t Americans, they were Irish or Spanish or Greek or Black. I learned I didn’t fit into any of the boxes people in America thought I should fit into. I was labeled as different and strange.
The Vietnam War was winding down and most of the people I knew were against it. To me it was a dumb situation the Americans got themselves into for no reason. Something they seemed to do quite often.
Over the years I saw the USA get involved in several wars and police operations, military operations, whatever you want to call them. I never understood why we had to constantly stick our noses into everybody else’s business. As I grew older I began to understand the motivations were economic and political.
Some say the USA backed the overthrow of President Allende of Chile on September 11, 1973, and supported Augusto Pinochet. This makes no sense to me. Why would we support a guy who threw pregnant women out of airplanes? A man who had 40,000 people tortured or “disappeared”. Is a cruel dictator always better than a socialist?
On any given day there are multiple wars going on around the world. Since September 1, of last year, people have been killed in conflicts in Mali, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq Ukraine, Burma, Pakistan, Somalia, Egypt, Nigeria, Philippines and Democratic Republic of Congo. Not to mention the drug wars in Latin America. For some reason only Syria is in our face.
In Rwanda in 1994 over a period of 100 days there was an organized genocide where over 500,000 Tutsis were killed by the Hutu tribe. Interestingly enough, the USA chose not to help anybody in any way. I thought about this. African history is full of conflict and civil war and tribal war. The USA rarely gets involved in it and it is not covered much in the news. Is Africa of little consequence?
What makes Syria so special? Is it the great heart wrenching TV coverage? The power of fear, the manipulative power? Or is it just that people in power have a special thing about chemical weapons. Like they did about nuclear weapons in Iraq.
What makes one life worth more than another? If we could sit by and watch the genocide of the Tutsis without a second thought, why do we care so much about a few Syrians?
War is horrible no matter what you use to kill people. Guns, bombs, nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, the end result is the same. People die. Doesn’t matter where, who, or what, they are people and they die. The fact is we aren’t going to change the world, or human behavior, or solve other people’s problems. Have we ever? It isn’t about a few people getting killed by chemical weapons. It’s all about power, politics and economics.
(Editor’s note: since this was first written the terror group ISIL has formed in Syria and expanded into Iraq.)
Kathleen Gamble was born and raised overseas and has traveled extensively. She has a BA in Spanish and has worked in publishing, printing, desktop publishing, translating, and purchasing. She also designs and creates her own needlepoint. She started journaling at a young age and her memoir, Expat Alien, came out of those early journals. Over the years she has edited and produced an American Women’s Organization cookbook in Moscow, Russia, and several newsletters. Her first book, Expat Alien, was published in 2012 and she recently published a cookbook, 52 Food Fridays, both available on Amazon.com. You can also follow her blog at ExpatAlien.com.