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However by tagging that last line on I gave you an out to avoid confronting the points raised in rest of my post, and outlining whether you think the people of Syria are best left to the tender mercies of Assad/HZ/Iran and Russia, or whether the west should "do" something?   I'm interested as to your view on that issue, i.e. the point at hand, rather than what the west may or may not have done in the region over the last 100 years - which viewed from a cellar in Aleppo probably isn't of much practical concern at the moment.


I think the international community should do something.  I don't think that should be the west, with its history not just over the last 100 years but as recently as Iraq and Libya of deliberately fomenting war, rejecting opportunities for de-escalation, breaking international law and lying both to its own people and its own legislatures about what was happening.  The precondition for intervention is surely that those intervening are seen as acceptable to both sides, honest brokers.  Our self-interested grabbing of wealth, illegal regime change and deliberate fostering of war place us about as far from the role of honest broker as anyone could imagine.


That role should be played by the UN, but it has been so emasculated, enfeebled and undermined by the US that it too lacks credibility.


If some countries can be found to play such a role, then the first thing they would need to happen is an end to secret arming of sides by the west and (less secretly) Russia.  But that's not going to happen, because our governments (US and UK in particular) are so caught up in the manipulation and subterfuge that they can't stop, thinking it would be equivalent to losing the game.  For independent countries to try to act as peace-brokers while the west and Russia foment war behind their backs is a non-starter.  It would be like trying to referee a match while third parties are tossing grenades onto the pitch.


The aim of any intervention must be to try to reach a political settlement, and reducing or ending violence is part of that process.  The process may take many years, as we saw in Northern Ireland and South Africa, but if there is no political settlement and only overwhelming force, as in Palestine, there is no peace.


Perhaps part of what needs to happen is greater clarity and honesty about what western governments are up to.  That is why they are so desperate to hunt down and neutralise whistleblowers who allow people to see and understand a little of what has been hidden from them (perhaps we should call such things "conspiracy realities").  Greater transparency about what we have been getting up to, coupled with making people accountable for their actions, might help to make governments row back a little from some of their wilder excesses.  Dragging war criminal Blair to the Hague would be a start.


Instead of that, we will get more furtive arming of Syrian rebels, prolonging the conflict and adding to the deaths, combined with some much-trumpeted and well-publicised humanitarian measures to alleviate some of the suffering of some of the people who have made it out alive.


So I see the west "doing something" as the problem, not the solution.  And stopping doing things as an essential step towards restoring peace.  The best we could do is support genuinely independent countries to play an honest broker role, and create conditions more favourable for that.  We won't do that, we'll carry on playing the Great Game.  Sometimes we will be subject to shocking casualties and  forced into humiliating retreat, as in Afghanistan, more commonly the unnumbered dead will be Iraqis, or Libyans, or Syrians, or Iranians.

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