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viewpoint

War is over?

| Tuesday, April 24, 2018

“Damascus, ‘Pearl of the East,’ the pride of Syria, the fabled garden of Eden, the home of princes and genii of the Arabian Nights, the oldest metropolis on Earth, the one city in all the world that has kept its name and held its place and looked serenely on while the kingdoms and empires of 4,000 years have risen to life, enjoyed their little season of pride and pomp, and then vanished and been forgotten.”

— Mark Twain, “The Innocents Abroad”

Since I heard the news that Syria was bombed last week, a picture comes to my mind, in which my favorite artist Yoko Ono and her late husband John Lennon, dressed in white, were holding a large piece of paperboard. It reads, “War is Over!”

That exclamation mark seemed assertive and inspiring, and never ceased to make me feel strong. It was the year of 1969. Nearly 50 years ago, the war in Vietnam was reaching a climax as American deaths peaked. It was also the time when the anti-war movement reached a climax. I have always admired Ono and Lennon’s courage of standing up against the war, as any war, from my point of view, is a crime against humanity itself and cannot be excused.

However, what people often didn’t notice is that below this statement on the paperboard, there reads a much more powerless phrase: “If you want it.”

Their message was addressed to the Americans, who eagerly awaited their loved ones at home, a peaceful home flooded with anxiety and apprehension. It petitioned them all to stand up against the horrendous war.

I don’t know whether the fact that the second half of the phrase being printed in a much smaller font size indicated something, or if it was on purpose. To me, it seemed to acknowledge that “we” don’t have the final say after all.

But who, then?

On April 14, 2018, following President Trump’s tweets that missiles “will be coming” to Syria, three sites that allegedly had chemical weapons were bombed by the U.S. military, in conjunction with British and French forces. Airstrikes have always been of western democracies’ preference, as they reduce casualties to a certain extent. Yet airstrikes are also the privileges of western democracies, as they leaves smaller countries, like Syria, no other option but to flee.

While writing this article, I did a google search on Syria. To my expected astonishment, most articles that came up focused on how this attack could become a milestone for the U.S. — whether it be in its relationship with Russia, or for world peace — but somehow this simple Google search told me much about the United States Federal Government’s well-known egotism.

Only an article published by a British correspondent demonstrated the other side of the story. The bulk of my search results did not speak to how the 110 bombs landed on Syria last week destroyed the homes of millions of innocent souls.

Syria was founded as a proud Islamic state, and on this land steadily rose the civilization of humanity. It was once a bustling and vibrant place that has been burned down with clashes. The once proliferous Damascus, a busy and lively metropolitan, has been bombarded to ruins. All of the six Syrian sites that were recognized as World Culture Heritage, are all destroyed. Needless to say, the bombs that landed on Syria last week were not helping repair these. What I hope could be understood by the people who placed the order and took control is that, the destruction of humanity is not only the loss of Syrians, but the loss of humanity in its entirety.

I am never a big fan of exploring the truths, as I don’t know what truth is when camouflaged by politicians’ underlying motives that are allegedly kind, nor when the media is clearly filtered, and maybe opinionated and biased. But I do know that everything that happened in Syria this past week is at the expense of humanity, and no excuse can justify this.

Seeing this, when the heaven on earth has become hell and is literally inches away, and when children were wailing and shaking in fear and pain, how could we not question ourselves: “Are we any better than the gatekeepers of hell?”

Countless Syrians would rather flee on a cargo ship, and risk being abandoned and drowned in the Mediterranean Sea than stay in their own country, a place that they once were proud to call home. Women were being smuggled and sold as prostitutes. Men were used as cheap labor and suffered from strenuous physical duress.

I don’t want to leave the impression that I urge the three western giants to take fault for everything that was mentioned above, as that would be very unfair of me to do so. The message I hope to convey is that, what was done by them does not seem to be fixing, but instead seems to be merely destroying. How can we call this peacemaking when clearly peace is once more violated?

Dr. Bashar Jaafari, the Syrian representative to the United Nations, said in a speech on April 9: “The violation of the nonproliferation regime is the specialty of the western states.”

I don’t know if I necessarily agree with Jaafari entirely, but I do know that China in the 19th century, Vietnam in the 20th century and Iraq 10 years ago have all been the victims of such imperialism. The only difference now is that as the war is now not being fought at the expense of America, people have become relentless and forgotten what has been learned in the past.

Being a sophomore at the University, my shallow mind cannot comprehend the complexity of political motives and the right way to fight against terrorism. I do not know whether the western states should intervene, and if so in what way, so please offer me some forgiveness if I failed to bring up some wise strategies of my own. Yet what I do hope, is that in this barbaric slaughterhouse that we once called humanity, there still exists faint glimmers of civilization and the war will one day be over.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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