Commentary by Bill Frank, who taught social studies, focusing on the U.S. Constitution, at a Christian school in inner city Chicago for five years. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
Have you ever broken a bone? If you have, you know that it hurts a lot. The question I pose does not only relate to broken bones, it can also be applied to issues like human suffering.
Syria has been embroiled in this civil war for over two years now, and well over 100,000 people have been killed. These people were killed by bombs, bullets, RPGs, beheadings, and other ways that do not have anything to do with weapons of mass destruction that are banned by international conventions. In Syria, a series of chemical attacks have killed an estimated 1,400 people.
The president has used this tragic fact to get our country into this completely absurd position we are in now. He has exposed himself to the world as an amateur, and is acknowledged as having been played by Russian President Valdimir Putin like a poker chip.
No one doubts that death by chemical weapons is awful, but is it more awful than deaths caused by conventional weapons? If your life ends, it ends. Of course one could dream up some macabre, tortuous death that is more awful than a gunshot. Hollywood has made millions of dollars doing this very thing, but in this war that our president is bumbling around with; can we honestly say that the thousands of dead in Syria have suffered more with chemical bombs or conventional bombs?
How much does the average American know about genocide? Most likely, people know about the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. They may say, “Hitler killed six million Jews.”
This is true, but Hitler also murdered another five million other people! The estimated death toll due to these death camps was 11 million and included more than just Jews. There were: Catholics, Protestants, homosexuals, gypsies, the mentally ill. All of them slaughtered alongside the Jews. Several of these people that were murdered, died as a result of courageously acting to try and save Jews.
The mass killing of Kurdish people in Iraq is estimated at about 150,000. Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons as well as death squads to murder these people. Americans satellites showed a field at one point, then a bulldozed hole, then a sealed hole. After the war, these sites were dug up and scores of Kurdish corpses were found s along with bullet casings and grenade fragments. These people were gunned down and grenade blasted to death for the “crime” of being Kurdish.
Ever wonder why Turkey has not been accepted into the European Union? They refuse to take responsibility for the Armenian genocide. During the World War I era, the Ottoman Empire, based in Turkey, murdered an estimated 1.5 million Armenians. Armenians were thrown off cliffs, hung, shot, death-marched into the desert, and even gassed. They were herded into caves. Then fires were set at the cave entrance so that the smoke would fill the cave and kill everyone inside with carbon monoxide or suffocation. Many schools never teach about this genocide.
Bosnians Serbs mercilessly murdered approximately 100,000 Bosnian Muslims in the 1990s.
Approximately 1.5 million Cambodians died at the hands of the Khmer Rogue, some by bloodletting, some by blunt instruments.
At least 800,000 Rwandans were butchered to death with machetes in the 1990s. Rivers in Rwanda were filled with corpses in some places.
Large-scale massacres occurred among Native Americans in the U.S.
Untold numbers of slaves died traveling from Africa to the U.S. and other slave purchasing countries.
Under Mao Tse Tung, millions were killed during the Communist Revolution.
Josef Stalin murdered millions in the Soviet Union. People were starved to death, sent to gulags, and other methods of mass death.
The Darfur region of Sudan has also been witness to hundred of thousands of deaths.
The Japanese committed horrible atrocities in an event called the Rape of Nanking in China.
There are more, but the point should be clear. Our world has had a problem of genocide for a long time. Current U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power wrote a Pulitzer Prize winning book on this topic entitled A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide. If you want to learn more about these genocides, this book is a good resource, whether you agree with her political stance or not.
The word genocide literally had to be invented to account for what happened during World War II. This term applies to all of the examples from above. And it could be construed that this is going on right now in Syria.
Prior to the latest chemical attack, the Syrian civil war had resulted in at least 100,000 dead. Why wasn’t there outrage and call to action expressed then? Why did the president draw a red line at chemical attacks? Does a broken left arm hurt more than a broken right arm?
This slaughter in Syria is terrible. The world should do something to stop it, but that responsibility is not just incumbent upon the United States.
The Arab League has enormous militaries and assets to deal with this situation. The Russians could put pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. NATO could stand together to put more pressure on Assad. There are numerous permutations of solutions if the world really wants to stop this genocide. It's not enough to just identify a problem, there needs to be a solution.
Sadly, there is little likelihood that this will happen. Our president has burned all of his credibility with the Congress and the American people. The Russians have outmatched him on the international stage. Our European allies, except perhaps France, are not supportive of our president. China is not supportive, and an accounting of every other country in the world would produce a list of maybe a dozen countries that support our policy.
So while we are exposed to video after video of atrocities occurring in Syria, the world is once again standing by and doing nothing to stop genocide. The Syrians that are suffering the most are the noncombatants. They are being shot, bombed, beheaded, and in some cases, even gassed. Christians, Shiite Muslims, Sunni Muslims are dying in Syria by the barbaric jihads and the tyrannical government. The reality is, both sides are evil and should not be aided by us in any way. We are forced to watch this horror unfold in front of our eyes.
The whole world is watching, and the whole world isn’t really doing much to stop it. What a lesson to teach our children. Pray for peace in Syria so that the slaughter can end. An innocent person getting killed by any method is just as awful as being killed in a specific way, in this case, chemicals. A broken left arm hurts as much as a broken right arm.
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