The West’s seeming impotence

The West’s seeming impotence

by Stefan Haderer*

Every day now we are getting flooded by new horror stories about the atrocities of the IS, the civil war in Syria and the associated refugee tragedy. But it is not a jeremiad that has been confronting the Western governments with unforeseeable developments. Media mostly try to present Europe in a condition of increasing powerlessness. An almost endless coverage of Syrian refugees and the problems with their accommodation the European population should divert from the root causes of this development – namely, the Syrian battlefield. It is kept secret that most ot the current events are the consequence of an intentional intervention policy, with which the Europeans have to live, whether they like it or not.
Only vaguely, if at all, some remember a headline in the “Washington Post” that appeared – ironically – on 11 September 2013, running “CIA begins supplying arms to Syrian rebels”. With the goal of overthrowing Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad the US government is providing radicalised resistance fighters with arms without being criticised, not even by only one EU diplomat.
This type of intervention “in the name of justice” is not new. The “Operation Cyclone” was launched by the US government and pursued from 1979 to 1989 with the purpose to supply weapons to the Afghan Mujahideen supporting their fight against the dominant Soviet military. When the Cold War ended the guerrilla fighters in the inhospitable mountains and valleys of the Hindu Kush formed terrorist splinter groups – the most notorious is al-Qaeda. With the help of the West a phantom enemy has been created who until today holds the world in suspense and on whom a hopeless “war on terror” was declared. Even German Bundeswehr soldiers are taking part.
Meanwhile, al-Qaeda seems to have been replaced by the IS – at least in terms of media coverage. Its emergence, however, has striking similarities to the terrorist network, because Western governments use a proven strategy: Arming of fanatical rebels, either in Iraq or in Syria, in order to get rid of unwanted rulers.
The fact that this always happens at the expense of the civilian population, is logical and predictable, but obviously accepted. The irresponsibility of the involved actors in this war – the United States, Britain and France – and the treatment of refugees speaks for itself.
Responsibility can mean many different things. Countries may care about the accommodation of refugees. But if governments show no interest in resolving the conflict’s root-cause and continue to reject a dialogue with Assad, the terrible situation will be unsolvable, and any kind of humanitarian aid remains what it is: a drop in the ocean.     •

*    Stefan Haderer is a cultural anthropologist and political scientist. The text first appeared in the “Wiener Zeitung” from 08.26.2015 (www.wienerzeitung.at/meinungen/gastkommentare/770884_Die-scheinbare-Ohnmacht-des-Westens.html).
(Translation Current Concerns)

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