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the moral dimension

Reader comment on item: Putin's Invasion Scrambles the West

Submitted by David (United States), Apr 20, 2022 at 19:41

I find myself wishing to respond to Twitter comments by the author, and I hope you will continue to so graciously allow me to post my responses here, as I do not like that medium. You use it generally quite well, but I just abhor the way it is often used and therefore find it very hard to become a user of the platform.

In regards to the comments on there not being a moral aspect to the war in Syria vs. Ukraine, I so profoundly disagree. It is the case today, that there is no credible opposition in Syria anymore. But it was not the case when the war began. As you well know, it spiraled chaotically toward the abyss, in no small part because the Iranians and the Russians were given free reign there, which enabled Moscow in particular to achieve its strategic ambitions of delegitimizing and destroying the opposition and effectively razing the country to the ground. When the uprising began, even Alawites in the Syrian Air Force were defecting and joining the calls for the overthrow of the murderer who rules that land. It was the profound detachment of the President of the US at the time, and his abiding sympathy for the Iranians, that enabled Mr. Assad to very much make his distortions of the truth into a reality. He said that all the people opposing him were "terrorists" and "foreigners." This was not remotely the case when the war began, but like the old adage of what is to occur in a nuclear apocalypse, he killed almost every last decent man, and what survived were the cockroaches. ISIS, and its fellow travelers. But this was by no means the reality at the beginning of the war. Almost the whole country wanted that corrupt, murderous thief to leave.

Perhaps you find more morality in the Ukraine conflict, because there remains a Ukraine, with clear national solidarity. To borrow the Arabic phrase, "assabiya." Precisely because there, Russia has not been successful in burning the elements of civil society to the ground.

But to wit, this is what Assad did. Not only the civil society but very much the country itself, in the sense of its people. He systematically transformed what had been an overwhelmingly Sunni majority country into a Shiite one, by expelling 10 million people. And the Jordanians, not for humanitarian reasons, willingly served as a receptacle for the migrant outflow. Is there nothing immoral about this? The fact that this project of destroying the country succeeded, is a severe moral crime that cries to the heavens. And the indifference about it testifies to the fact that Western concerns are almost never humanitarian, sorry to say.

So then there's this other aspect to all of this. Viral trends. Fashion. The Syrian conflict was never so fashionable because Westerners do not care about what happens in faraway lands. The Ukrainian conflict became compelling because Ukrainians are Europeans, and more so, because they fought. Just as the Israelis did in '48. A number of factors converged to make the fight for Ukraine a matter of particular interest to a broad swath of people, of all kinds of ideologies, and a broad swath of the American ruling class. But is the abandonment of Syria, and the current ongoing abandonment of the Kurds, a testament to anything good about us? Ultimately, it is to the credit of Ukrainians that they managed to stand and fight, and this is part of the reason why we say there is a "moral dimension." But the moral stains of the crimes committed in Syria and against Kurds both there and in Iraq, are no less shameful. We mustn't forget avert our attention to that, or to what it says about us all.

Submitting....

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Daniel Pipes replies:

Indeed, there was a strong moral aspect to the Syria civil war when it began in 2011. But that was long ago and for many years it's been a thug battling various extremists.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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