Who is going to account for all the innocent lives that are being stolen under the illusionary and barbaric flag of “collateral damage”?

Who is going to account for all the innocent lives in Syria that are being stolen under the illusionary and barbaric flag of “collateral damage”?

The world mourns over the heart wrenching images of 5 year old Omran Daqneesh. Drenched in blood and bathed in dirt, an expressionless yet surprised face, and wide vacant eyes are asking innocently, “How many more?”

The United States points fingers at Russia, and Iran blames Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, a boat is capsizing in the Aegean Sea. The 3 year old boy, Aylan Kurdi is in the water now. Simultaneously, a press conference occurs, with glorified speeches and promises. Aylan is helplessly kicking his delicate legs as he stretches his feeble arms hoping for someone to reach out for him. A call for agreements and increased cooperation. Denials, and more blame. The 3 year old is now looking at the treachery and savagery of the world for the last time as he takes his final breath. Applaud for the champions of democracy and their policies, for the boy has now drowned. The innocent Aylan Kurdi for us, some mere “collateral damage” for them.

Omran Daqneesh barely made it out alive from the rubble of what he earlier used to call “home”. He survived the Russian airstrike, but how many days, or months, or years, will the horrors keep tormenting him? More orphans than the orphanages can take. More injured than the hospitals can accommodate. Fear, desperation, and hopelessness becoming the part and parcel of not-so-normal days. There have been over 400,000 reported civilian casualties in Syria and the numbers keep rising. Images of Aylan were strong enough to shake a few countries into opening up their doors to refugees, but they still can’t do the job of putting some sense into the global superpowers to control their power lust.

“We fight places, not people.”

I recently got a chance to participate in the International Affairs and Security session at YYGS. In one of our seminars : Can Jihadist Ideas Be Killed, my friend from the US commented upon the US policies in these words, “We fight places, not people.” This has been the case in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other places as well.

When intellectuals and high profile policymakers sitting in heavenly safe buildings of developed countries spend hours planning out their decisions, how can they miss the cultural perspectives of the places they are dealing with? It happens when they send in drone strikes to “save resources and lives”, and instead it ends up costing more resources and more lives.

How do they not see how much Pakhtoons (an ethnic group in Northwestern Pakistan and most of Afghanistan) love their land, and how sending in huge birds that spit fire onto their homes is going to do nothing other than feeding into the terrorist narrative? Do they think about why a 15 year old would not want to join ISIS when his parents get killed in the name of collateral damage? Economic troubles, topped by desperation and loss are a perfect ingredient for an ISIS recruit. Well, but let’s close our eyes and send in another missile.

As I try to imagine the Russian and US policies in Syria, I see two children sitting at the edge of a lake. Both throwing in pebbles to compete on who gets the greater number of bounces. A race for superiority. Both delved in self pride and blinded by competition. Pebble after pebble, missile after missile. In Syria, this game has taken an extremely horrific turn now. I can just wait and see how many more Omran’s it will take until these spoiled kids put an end to their show.

Sohaib Nashit is a Yale Young Global Scholar 2016.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *