A Gentle Reminder About Syria


Syria, along with many other countries in the Middle East, is a cobbled-together colonial legacy that has no business existing. When the Brits and the French carved up the remains of the Ottoman Empire (I really wanted to say “carved up the Turkey,” but no), they did so along the lines that benefited them, not the lines that benefited the majority of the people in the region or took their needs and desire into account. It is not a country in the terms that we have come to understand the word.

This is important to remember as we look at the Syrian civil war. You have a country that is largely a polite fiction, where the majority are oppressed by the minority (think South Africa under apartheid), in an area where people have spent centuries upon centuries fighting over the international version of “What their Sharon said about our Doreen at cousin Bert’s wedding.”

And just like those kind of family squabbles, you don’t want to get into the middle of it. We have no business getting involved in Syria on a military level. We should be happy to offer our services as honest brokers and negotiate settlements when and where we can, but beyond that, this is a seriously fucked-up mess and there is nothing-nothing-helpful we can do right now. That’s why I am, to an extent, happy that Russia is taking ownership of this problem. Let it become their issue.

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