Syria and Regional War: A Bit of Perspective

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According to a CBS news report, “Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers called the civil war in Syria a ‘regional war’,” because Hezbollah is involved. Well, his focus is highly selective and late, because Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Quatar have been heavily involved for a long time, and some anti-Assad rebels are not Syrian in origin. And Israel decided on its own hook to enter the war selectively, not to mention the participation of the U.S. and other governments outside the region.

Much of this region used to be part of the Ottoman Empire, which is one way of understanding why and how it is that we read of various fighters who move around among such countries as Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria. That is not to forget that Palestine and contiguous regions were occupied by numerous other empires at one time or another. Today’s states and administrative regions were often carved out by these empires, and the West has played that role too. The point is that the regional warfare that Myers speaks of has deeper historical, ethnic and religious roots than the more recently created political subdivisions into states suggest. The U.S. sometimes predicates its policies on ideas of “states” or building “nation-states”, but these constructs fail to grasp or deal with the real human loyalties, bonds, norms, allegiances, beliefs and values. The U.S. sometimes advocates “building” a tidy little world of states that are in some sense strong enough to keep the peace, to defend the rights of possibly disparate peoples living within its borders, while also being democratic, freedom-loving, just, and religiously tolerant. It cannot even accomplish these goals in North America, much less the rest of the world. I do not think that ANY STATE can ever accomplish such goals because the powers of states usually conflict with them and encourage the very opposite.

11:16 am on May 27, 2013