I’ve now made up my mind about Syria. It’s taken me a considerable amount of time to do so, and I have written a number of non-committal pieces on the ongoing civil conflict previous to this, but now, I actually have a position of my own. Unsurprisingly, for someone of a libertarian slant, I’ve decided on non-interventionism.
However, this wasn’t a bog-standard ideological decision for me; I, perhaps controversially, still hold the opinion that both the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were right in principle, if not conducted at all well in practice. I have a fuzzy spot for liberal interventionism, in other words. So it was strange for me to come to a conclusion about the Syrian conflict at odds with my other views. Strangest of all, however, was where I came to this conclusion.
I had the misfortune of attending a night club on Saturday evening. Privileged for being the only night club in a small overspill town and open until 5am on Saturdays, you can picture the scene for yourselves, no doubt; think of boys plastered with tribal tattoos, girls in whorish clothes smeared with fake tan, piss-weak drum and bass piddling through the sub-par PA system, and you’ll be somewhere close by.
No doubt, if my picture has been painted at all aptly for your mind’s eye thus far, it shan’t be a giant stretch of the imagination to envisage the prospect of such an environment giving rise to several fights a night. This was certainly the case for me in my fateful experience, with many pairs of thugs with heads like old potatoes pummelling the bejesus out of each other for reasons unapparent and unimportant to the other ‘patrons’ of the club. Looking on, I realized that whoever won these contests of aggression, I’d still be sad that one of them could win, rather than both of them lose. I realised, witnessing this strange, animalistic phenomenon, that the current Syrian conflict is an allegory for two meat heads fighting in the world’s worst night club.
Why? Well, because you don’t want either side to win. Meat Head Number 1, the Assad regime, and Meat Head Number 2, the rebel force/Islamist nut case factions; neither should be given support. You don’t want Assad to be the victor, and you certainly don’t want the rag-tag of militants umbrella’d as the ‘rebels’ by the Western media to win either. I can’t see this as being any different to two burkes hammering away at each other for some point too alpha male for most of us to decipher.
There is also the question of ideology which fuels the circumstance; you can usually calm down your bog standard night club meathead by employing some primitive level of reason that even they can grasp. Failing that, coaxing them with a banana can usually provide them with enough awe to distract them from pummelling each other. However, with the al-Qaeda affiliated nut cases running around in Syria at the moment, no such reprieve is possible, owing to their adherence to such a strict Islamist dogma.
This is not to down play the crimes of the Assad regime; nor is it to excuse the war crimes committed by members of the rebelling factions. But when both sides are as violent and guilty as the other, there is even less reason to intervene; just get on about your business. Or, rather, stop others from being hurt whilst the two bruisers slug it out (providing supplies, refuge and protection for refugees and as many people in Syria, Lebanon, Israel and those Kurdish regions affected, to continue the allegory). The terrible night club of Syria deserves no bouncers to stop such fights erupting; it only needs Samaritans to ensure that those innocent patrons don’t get hurt. The non-combatants and the refugees of the Syrian conflict have no truck with either side, and do not deserve the downward helix (not, I might add, a downward spiral, if we’re splitting hairs) of more poverty, violence and panic. Plus, think of all the bags of rice, plasters and tents we could provide for the price of a handful of semi-automatic weapons.
The night club is too expensive to enter, too dangerous once you’re in there, and those stuck inside can be protected, even coaxed outside from a safe distance. Still wanting to go inside, even if some of your bigger mates have already gone in, is a fool’s errand.