As I’m writing this, the British House of Commons is holding an emergency debate on the current situation in Aleppo – a city that has found itself at the very epicentre of Syria’s civil war. The fighting there has now been going on for approximately four years, but now, with the help of Iranian-backed militias and Russian airpower, government forces appear to be on the verge of victory. All this is happening in the context of a nearly six-year-old war: a brutal civil war involving approximately seventeen trillion factions, a proxy war between global and regional powers, a seemingly endless sectarian conflict, a war which includes the battle against Islamic State, the ongoing war in Iraq and a humanitarian tragedy of incredible proportions. Now, I’m personally not trying to get elected anywhere at the moment, so I don’t even have to pretend to know how to solve this mess.
For some reason, however, many apparently do. Just like every terrorist attack these days ends with everyone on Facebook and Twitter automatically becoming experts on how to defeat radical Islam, this is seemingly no different. A protest is apparently going on tonight at Downing Street offering “solidarity with Aleppo” and “calling for an immediate ceasefire and the delivery of humanitarian aid by international organisations”. Well, sounds lovely, but what have these people actually got to offer apart from meaningless virtue signalling? I suppose travelling to central London and holding up a hastily put together placard is at least more admirable than simply tweeting #PrayFor(insert location here), but still, I can’t fathom as to how they can seriously hope to achieve anything. How many times have we already called for “an immediate ceasefire” in Syria? Surely enough times to realise that a few hundred well-meaning Britons haven’t got the slightest chance of shifting Vladimir Putin’s geopolitical ambitions.
As much as we often like to assume that Britain and America are the source of either all the world’s ills or the solution to all of its problems, we should just be honest for a moment and recognise that there’s next to nothing the West can do about Syria at this point. Sure, maybe we could have intervened several years ago, toppled Assad and made Syria great again. That’s certainly a possibility. However, what is also a possibility is that such a decision would have merely resulted in precisely the kind of mess that we’ve left behind in plenty of other places. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Lybia isn’t exactly the land of sunshine and rainbows at the moment, more like a wicked Jihadi-themed Mad Max. As much as we might like to play the ultimately pointless game of alternative history, Russia, Iran and Assad have won in Syria and no amount of platitudes and virtue signalling will do anything to change that.
All that being said, if you actually want to help those affected by the Syrian Civil War and are prepared to put your money where your mouth is, you can donate to either:
Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) HERE
The Internation Red Cross HERE