In any war, children face multiple crises; first health, safety, dislocation, and worse, death. But if by some chance they survive the violence, and are able to escape physical harm. They must struggle to emerge from the oppressive emotional cloud that can permanently scar their psychological wellbeing. This mental harm often happens because there is not enough attention given to post war professional counseling for children. But another immediate but long term casualty of any armed conflict like the type that is occurring in Syria, is the almost immediate closing of schools; and the irreversible education degradation of the educational experience window for the young people caught in the middle of the conflict. This loss of educational time, will insure that no matter the outcome in Syria; the nation’s path to development will realize generational setbacks; thus insuring that the country will experience long term underdevelopment..
“……..My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal….”—Vladimir V. Putin is the president of Russia; NY Times, 9/12/13.
Mr. Putin is correct in his assertion that the Syrian war theater is a very complex place. The amount of complexity is avoided by the news media; first out of fear of the “snooze factor” (don’t bore the audience with inconvenient facts); and secondly out of a “fall back” intellectually laziness position, that places every situation in the world into “left-right”, “democrats-anti-democrats”; conservative-liberals; secularist-anti-secularists. There is no clear national strategy that takes into account the particular Syrian Geo-historical experience (which could explain why a “strike-force” coalition consisting of America, France and Great Britain, could be problematic, despite their good intentioned and moral motivations). There is also no clear analysis of the important different approaches to Islam in play in Syria; and how this influences the war itself, the behavior of the combatants on both sides, and the cast of war backers of one side or another. Cultural experiential knowledge is useful here as the US public must be informed that this is not the (Us based) Lutherans vs. the Methodists, or the Catholic Church vs. Protestantism. And since just about everybody fighting on both sides in Syria are Muslims, what is an “Islamist”? For sure, Mr. Putin is painfully aware of his nation’s disastrous role as the “godless satan” in Russia’s Afghanistan misadventure. He is (I guess) also keeping one eye on a very large, restless and potentially troublesome Muslim population inside of his own south-west borders. He could learn from the US experience in Afghanistan, where abetting and arming the opponent (the Taliban) of your ideological enemy, only in time to have those same weapons turned on you; is the geo-political definition of a self-inflected wound. “Freedom Fighters”, (as well as their opponents, as we see in Egypt) historically are very often, complex and contradictory figures. Our own American Revolution was successfully completed without a revolutionary change in the lives of the African slave population. Rather than picking a side for short-term political point scoring; ‘exceptionally’ powerful nations should exhibit an exceptional and extraordinary vision of how peace could actually bring a higher level of social/economic progress, and long term security to their nations. Mr. Putin should study the recent history of Afghanistan to know that just simply being in opposition to the U.S. could have dangerous, and devastating effects when it is his turn to do battle with religious extremist (independent or state actors), who then could have possession of weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Obama is correct in ignoring the likes of John McCain who would put lethal arms into the hands of folks who would eventually turn them on US troops, or worse, American citizens. The senator’s cultural illiteracy deficiencies does not allow him to understand that in all of his meetings with the “Syrian Opposition”, lying to an enemy is very permissible under the religious principles followed by Mr. Assad’s opponents. There is unfortunately, an equality of deceit and immoral war crimes acted out by both sides. Before “picking a side”; It may be helpful for the foreign policy “wonks” in Russia, and the US, to study the amount of unrestricted brutality that was displayed in the Iraq-Iran war. Both sides, at the end of this Syrian conflict will inflict unimaginable brutality on the non-combatants of the other side, utilizing conventional weapons of mass destruction. And I believe Mr. McCain’s “Syrian Opposition” will systematically destroy whatever Christians are left in the country. But Mr. Putin is right on the point of equal status and stature under God. But I also believe that our responsibility for doing Good (God’s) works; (since he introduced God in his comments); is matched to a nations resource capacity and capability. In that sense all of the ‘exceptual’ members of the security council (exceptual because, obtaining a seat is based on economic, military, demographic and geographical power), must make an exceptional effort to secure the safety and wellbeing of the world’s people, protect the worlds environment from WMD’s, and make the world’s non-combatants safe from the devastating effects of war of any type. This exceptual responsibility of a “super-power” player status, should compel them to exhaust all efforts in protecting the greatest long term victims of any armed conflict, children.