March 3, 2013
Events collide, tragedy compounds, change worsens and more children cry in the darkness. I am a callous person, tempered by years in warzones and political firefights. Yet, last night, watching the ABC News and Bob Woodruff amongst the cold and exposed refugee children who had fled from the insanity that is Syria, where children are tortured to death and mothers and girls are violated before innocent eyes. I lost it and cried for hours.
Syria is Bosnia on steroids and accompanied with the threat of chemical weapons but without the skilled diplomacy of a Richard Holbrook. I worked in Brcko, unresolved under the Dayton Agreement, where the rape of bodies and minds was progressive and left no one untouched. Rape is now endemic for the women refugees from Syria. The refugee camps themselves have become places where women are forced to trade their bodies for scant food to feed their hungry children.
As we in the international community stand back and watch the situation devolve, we are reminded of Halabja, Rawanda, Srebrenica, Congo and so many other horrors that go on and on in humankind’s recent history. Innocent blood flows, hands are wrung in frustration or indifference. The complexities hold us back and serve as a convenient excuse for inaction.
The United States and the international community had a clear chance about nine months ago to aid and arm the rebels but now we have lost any hope of supporting a clean choice. As John McCain pointed out more than seven months ago we must give some basic support to the best of the rebels., But now the Islamists have taken over many of the rebel groups, this at Turkey’s behest in order to temper the involvement of the Kurds. Former Assad Regime loyalists and perpetuators of this extreme abuse have changed sides and now speak of human rights violations.
Marcel Mauss, whose uncle Emile Durkheim gave us classification, wrote of the spiral of human consciousness and the impact of individual and collective human actions to move us upward or downward on that spiral. This view has long made sense to me.
Recently, I thought of that spiral when I was in the U.S. Capitol looking at the statue of Rosa Parks soon to be dedicated. As I pondered her noble life and how she has moved humankind upward on that spiral of human consciousness, I know she would not sit back and wring her hands; she would act and lead us by example.
As Congressman John Lewis said of her, “She gave us a way out.” Let’s put our collective feet down and demand aid for the suffering Syrian children.