If the West and NATO continue on the path they have chosen, it will allow Vladimir Putin to reshape the post-Soviet world order in his image.
It is all well and good to promote freedom, liberty, and democracy and to plaster that all over the media and the global consciousness as your civilisational identity but, at some point, you would expect those who champion such “Western” values to actually act on them.
One look at Syria, however, tells you all you need to know about how these values are little more than a smokescreen and veneer behind which Western state-actors can hide their hypocrisy.
This is of course not to say that they are solely responsible for the mess in Syria, but as those who frequently portray themselves as holding the moral high ground in the international community, one needs to be prepared to point out their moral cowardice as children are bombed in schools and hospitals by Russian and Syrian regime aircraft in Idlib.
‘Humanitarian states’ could care less about Syria’s humans
Before the tragedy unfolding in Idlib, we had a great many other geographies across Syria that were stripped of their short-lived freedom from the ruling Assad family’s tyranny.
The world stood by and watched as Aleppo was absolutely pounded into submission with Russian bombers obliterating field hospitals they knew were medical sites. This was a callous strategy to literally kill off any spirit to resist the encroaching hordes of child rapists and murderers who fight for Bashar al Assad, and a war crime designed to break the will of those fighting by slaughtering or maiming as many of those civilians they were trying to protect.
This strategy has been replicated time and again, with blatant war crimes being perpetrated before our very eyes right across the Syrian theatre, with absolutely nothing done or said. For those who pride themselves of having broken the back of fascist Nazis in World War II, it is somewhat ironic that Moscow has now thrown its weight behind Assad’s fascist murderers and not only facilitates their perpetration of genocide but actively participates in it.
Perhaps the brutality of Stalinism, responsible for millions of deaths, still lingers on in the Kremlin notwithstanding its attempts to portray itself as a responsible and law-abiding member of the international community.
Despite watching Russia and Assad commit war crimes against the Syrian people, the international community, led by some of the world’s most established and developed democracies, have done nothing for the better part of a decade but pay lip service and offer platitudes to the cause of Syrian freedom.
Instead, the abiding concern of the West has been to stem the ever-increasing tide of refugees from Syria and other neglected war zones around the world.
After all, how dare these brown people who, by and large, hail from countries afflicted by wars born of either Western design or moral neglect, come to our peaceful and prosperous shores in the West?
Apart from a few glimmers of humanity, such as Germany’s initial decision to welcome refugees, that has literally been the approach to the human catastrophe that has evolved out of the Syrian conflict.
NATO is becoming a relic of a bygone era
But – and this may come across as something of a novel idea – if the West does not want a large influx of refugees, it would surely be much simpler for them to create a safe environment in places such as Syria where people can actually live without the fear of the torture, murder, and rape of the Assad regime that drives them to the West in the first place?
After all, why would millions of people simply uproot their lives just to come to Europe? There will always be economic migrants, but for a sheer mass of human bodies to shift to Europe in the way it is now is very reminiscent of the mass migrations into Europe and Asia Minor as a result of the brutal Mongol invasions of the 13th century.
Only calamitous wars cause this level of migration.
It is in this context that the West has abandoned its duty towards not only the Syrian people, but also to themselves and their own vaunted ideals.
The most infamous decision of the entire war was former President Barack Obama failing to enforce his own red lines on Assad’s use of chemical weapons that he established in 2012.
When Assad saw that nothing would happen and that there would be no US or NATO response to his mass murder, he must have thought that “lesser offences” such as bombing hospitals and schools and systematically using rape as a weapon of war would be cringed at but nothing more.
And Assad was right. Despite Turkey being the only NATO force to take kinetic action by downing a Russian Su-24 fighter-bomber that kept breaching its airspace in 2015, NATO again left Ankara holding the bag with so-called “allies” releasing statements saying that Turkey would be on its own in any fight with Moscow.
With continued European and Western insouciance towards Turkey’s concerns, and again offering nothing but platitudes following the Assad regime’s killing of dozens of Turkish troops on Thursday, Ankara has taken the decision to allow the free flow of Syrian refugees to Europe for 72 hours.
One would imagine that the rationale behind this is that if the West feels like it is too distant to care about what goes on in Syria, then perhaps hundreds of thousands of refugees from the 3.6 million already being hosted by Turkey turning up on Europe’s front door would get them to re-evaluate.
I suspect that the Turkish authorities might be surprised by European callousness even when facing the prospect of refugees turning up.
However, it may just trigger a sudden urgency in Western capitals to curtail Russian designs on Syria to reduce the pressure on Idlib.
Short of an open commitment to joining up with NATO ally Turkey in an offensive against the regime, however, it is difficult to see what Western powers could effectively offer as they clearly have no appetite to stand up to Vladimir Putin.
However, this inaction will ultimately continue the process of the disintegration of NATO, a long-time Russian objective.
Countries who are keen to join NATO, such as Georgia who could effectively act as a buffer against Russian interests, will be watching how Turkey is treated.
If Turkey continues to be left alone and mistreated by its own allies, it will simply reaffirm what everyone else is already suspecting, and that is that NATO is a relic of the past that does not have the guts to stand up to Putin’s reimagining of the post-Soviet world order.
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