The Windmills of War

Two days ago, this article could have been titled the Winds of War. A coalition attack on Syria following the use of chemical weapons seemed imminent. Forces were in place, targets were selected, intelligence was gathered and all that was missing was the green light from The White House.

The countdown had begun.

Today this article is titled The Windmills of War because suddenly everyone seems to be jumping of the intervention wagon. Egypt, who several months ago severed diplomatic ties with Syria has stated that it opposes any military intervention as has Jordan. The French have toned down the war rhetoric and the British government, which lost a crucial Parliamentary vote yesterday, has announced it will not take part in any American led strike against the Assad regime.

On Wednesday, Secretary General of the United Nation, Ban Ki-moon, voiced his concerns regarding a possible military intervention in Syria asking the US and its allies to first exhaust diplomatic efforts and “give peace a chance”.

The Secretary General’s remarks are puzzling to say the least. In the past two years, over one hundred thousand Syrians have died in a violent and merciless civil war. Millions have been displaced and hundreds of thousands have fled to refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan. And all the while diplomatic efforts have failed to stop the violence. The deadlock between the Syrian army and the rebels is comparable only to the two year deadlock in the UN Security Council.

To quote another John Lennon song title, the UN seems to be Crippled Inside.

The question that should have been put to the Secretary General is just how long should we give peace a chance? How many more Syrians need die before he too will be willing to put an end to the violence ? More importantly, how long will the Secretary General see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil?

There is of course a measure of hypocrisy in a possible strike against Syria. Like the UN Secretary General, most world leaders have also sat idly bye and watched as events unfold in Syria. Now we are told they are poised for action following the use of chemical weapons. Reports indicate that any US led attack will be a limited one meant to punish the Syrian President and send a strong message to all world leaders regarding the use of such weapons in warfare.

According to this logic, the message sent to tyrants, dictators and madman is the following- massacres, murders and indiscriminate shooting- go; chemical weapons-no go. But looking for logic in international diplomacy makes as much sense as measuring the circles that you find in the windmills of your mind.

At the moment, like its many battle carriers assembling in the Mediterranean, the United States is adrift at sea alone. Perhaps, like Israel, it should seek an international coalition with the Federated States of Micronesia. The rest of the world doesn’t really seem to care.

About the Author
Ilan Manor is finishing his mass media studies at Tel Aviv University. He has previously contributed to the Jerusalem Post, +972 Magazine, the Jewish Daily Forward and On Second Thought magazine. His Hebrew-language blog has been featured several times in the Israeli press.