Give peace in Syria a chance

I feel a real need to observe a level of propriety in what I’m handing out. Instead of just venting or spilling my guts, I’ve got to consider how it’s going to affect people. — Eric Clapton

Driving nine hours south to Santa Cruz last week all news reports focused on the “Syria seduction”. It was either the week that the US didn’t go to war or the war that got away. Only one moderate, on satellite radio SiriusFM, seemed relieved. The Michael Smerconish Program on POTUS [Politics of the United States] welcomes “spirited discussions of government, politics and current events without predictable left/right bias. Guests from every political party can comment and listeners are encouraged to debate and challenge opinions without being shut down.”

The pre-emptive peace strike from Russia took the US, if not the world, by surprise and had many people asking why the US didn’t think of that tactic.

Smart move. In a world that is tired of war, and from a country most Westerner’s think touts war not peace, Russia trumped the US by providing a way out of a potential military conflict.

So it is interesting to listen to the debate still raging around “what can be done about Syria” even after US Congress balked at President Barack Obama’s plan to attack. As Reuters reported Alexei Pushkov, head of the lower house of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, saying at this week’s Russia Investment Summit “for world leaders to reach a peace deal in Syria depends on the UN Security Council agreeing on a resolution to enforce it and Washington abandoning an ideology based on regime change”.

Pushkov made the point the military temptation would be always on the table [for the US], which “makes the whole situation extremely difficult and dangerous”. “There is a war party that wants war, no matter what Syrian President Bashar al-Assad does… The war party in Washington is pretty influential.”

It sure is. There is a war machine in the US that doesn’t want to back down and despite this topic failing to rate a mention along the streets of Santa Cruz, talkback radio and cable TV has hardly let up on the issue. Some commentators are so incensed they called Obama a whimp for allowing Putin to call the shots! The vitriol has been … scathing!

What’s the alternative? Another war in the Middle East? Another round of lives lost, for what gain? Surely the past two decades of failed intervention in the region demands that the world gives peace in Syria a chance.

So around and around this debate still goes and where it ends nobody knows … but I like Pushkov’s comment “if we reach this chemical agreement with Washington, London and Paris, then it [disarmament] can have a future and become a political agreement.”

Let’s hope so given the news unfolding on CNN today that the deal could still fall apart despite three basic premises being agreed for a UN Security Council resolution on Syria’s chemical weapons disarmament.

Judy Wilkinson is a freelance journalist who can’t get enough of this issue. It may prove to be one of those defining times in our lives where people ask where were you when …!

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