Some conversations are worth having and some are not. This depends, of course, on the possible content of the conversation. Will it lead somewhere productive? Will you talk, or will you shout? These are all questions whose answers are worth pondering.
In a few days, we will likely see the beginning of yet another geopolitical conflict that will likely re-draw the map of the world. It will be, yet again, east vs west. It will be long, a conflict of proxy, of secrets, and of technological might. Superpowers and their interests will clash, along with their allies, the superpowers of old, former behemoths of a colonial era that died the day America wiped two Japanese cities off the face of the earth.
I am, of course, referring to Syria. As of last night, Donald Trump, the reality television star turned President, ordered airstrikes on Syrian facilities, a punishment for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s suspected use of chemical weapons, the victims being his own people.
Syria is supported by Iran and Russia. They provide military aid to Assad, who is fighting off the advances of rebels who want to topple him and his government. The American led attack on Syria has not gone unnoticed. According to a quote published today in the NY Times, 90 minutes after the successful launch of the missiles, the Russian Ambassador to the United States warned of “consequences.”
It is suspected that Iran is looking to grow its influence in Syria, a move that the United States and its allies are vehemently against. Iran, whose economy has suffered in the wake of UN-approved sanctions, has also looked to develop it’s own Nuclear Weapons program, much like the United States and Russia, only to be thwarted by the aforementioned sanctions.
Syria is currently undergoing an internecine conflict of its own. Back in 2013, Assad was accused of using Chemical Weapons on his own people. Video footage of the aftermath of the attack showed the victims suffering symptoms that could only be the product of exposure to a nerve agent.
Back then, Barack Obama chose not to intervene militarily. Donald Trump, in 2017, did not show the same restraint, instead, he fired missiles at Syrian air bases.
Congress, of course – congenial to the way a monarch would and could act – did not approve this show of might and aggression. The president (the Donald) took matters into his own hands, even going so far as tweeting words of warning —
Of course, the gas killing animals are Assad and his cronies. Yet, he mentioned Russia…
Here is a conversation worth having, and it begins with this question: did Trump only make the lines separating the sides in this conflict bolder? Will this action galvanize the opposition to make their union more concrete?
The French and the British joined the United States, but not the Germans, they chose to condemn but not to launch. Does that mean Germany prefers neutrality, are they Switzerland?
World War One began because of agreements, pacts, shows of defense against aggression, or of aggression to thwart defense. It also began because of an assassination, that of an arch-duke.
Will this one begin because of innocent people falling prey to a savage “Gas killing animal?”
Or is this just another chess move in a never-ending conflict that began after World War Two ended: is this an extension of the cold war?
Do we want another war?
Nobody knows; more later.