Humanity hemorrhaged last night. As a BBC team reported in the “Walking Dead (Warning: Graphic Video).” Even though the US and UK say the Assad regime killed hundreds in recent poison gas attacks, British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond confirmed Britain would not be involved in any action against Syria.
Consistently, like most dictators, Syria’s President Bashar Hafez al-Assad, backed by Russia, blamed the attacks on rebels or terrorists. And in the wake of international intervention, while you slept, the Syrian government took the fight to the terrorists.
A playground full of children (or terrorists should you believe Assad) in northern Syria was bombed by a fighter jet with a napalm-like substance. Eye witnesses described how a jet had passed the school in Aleppo numerous times, as if it searched for a target prior to dropping its ordinance.
British medic, Dr. Rola, working in Syria with the charity Hand In Hand, told reporters:
“It is just absolute chaos and carnage here. We have had a massive influx of what looks like serious burns, seems like it must be some sort of, not really sure, maybe napalm, something similar to that. But obviously within the chaos of the situation it is very difficult to know exactly what is going on.“
Later, in a moment of reflection, Dr. Rola said:
”We feel like some sort of, not even a second class citizen, like we just don’t matter. Like all of these children, and all of these people who are being killed and massacred, we don’t matter. The whole world has failed our nation and it is innocent civilians who are paying the price.”
And that’s the key. Humanity hemorrhaged and the world failed. In 2010, the world’s declared stockpile of chemical weapons was about 30,308 tons. A total of 71,315 tons of agents, 8.67 million munitions and containers, and 70 production facilities were declared to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Since I have a military background, I will make it plain: “That’s a whole lot of shit.”
Additionally, several countries are not members of the OPWC, especially Syria and North Korea, while other member states (including Sudan and the People’s Republic of China) have been accused by others of failing to disclose their stockpiles.
As the sun rises in my window pain, I think of Britain’s inaction. I think of our own indifference and ponder a time when men of goodwill prevented such atrocities. Sipping coffee, I believe the men of goodwill have given dictators a free pass. Momentarily, I think of the 50th Anniversary of Dr. King’s speech and the march on Washington. Indifference marches onward; the devil is alive and well.
One witness of the Aleppo attack had a message for the United Nations:
“You are calling for peace. What kind of peace are you calling for? Don’t you see this, don’t you see this? What do you need to see?
As a former military member, fighting atrocity is a nasty and ugly business. But as men of goodwill, we must fight the fights worth fighting. That’s all that separates us from the devil.