Wednesday, August 24, 2016 at 8:43 PM

Truth about Viral Image of (Another) Syrian Boy

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 11.09.38 AMA boy, covered in blood and in obvious shock, became the “image of the war” in Syria last week. It “sent shock waves around the world,” evoking conscience-stricken calls for the international community to “act now” to prevent a recurrence.

The media abandoned all pretense of objectivity as it validated this reaction. On Monday’s edition of the NBC Nightly News, for example, anchor Lester Holt reported that it took this image “to open the eyes of the world” to the horrors of Syria’s five-year war.

Except that the Groundhog-Day spectre of this image belies the authoritative reporting, betrays the heartrending outrage, and befuddles the clarion calls.

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 11.44.52 AMAfter all, a boy, drowned at sea and washed ashore, became the image of the war in Syria last year. It too sent shock waves around the world, evoking similar calls. Remember that?

Hence the fleeting truth: this latest image shows that, despite the shock waves and outrage, those calls for action have gone unanswered. Which is why it’s only with forlorn hope that one can believe these calls won’t go unanswered too.

Meanwhile, thousands of Syrians – who have suffered, and are suffering, similar fates – are conspicuously absent from far too much of the reporting on and reaction to these two heartrending images….

But I hasten to clarify that the Syrian boy who drowned was not even fleeing Syria. He was fleeing Turkey. Therefore, he had more in common with countless African migrants who also drowned in the Mediterranean Sea than with the Syrian boy who survived that bombing … in Syria.

Which brings me to this discriminating truth: all of the reporting on Syria’s “children of war” highlights the media’s failure to report (as widely and with equal urgency) on the children of war in countries across the African continent.

Most notable in this respect is the D. R. Congo’s “children of genocide,” which my stricken conscience compelled me to comment on in “D. R. Congo’s Heart of Darkness Get Even Darker,” December 4, 2012.

b9ad772005653afce4d4bd46c2efe842_LThis country alone has seen 5.4 million killed and 2.6 million displaced since 1996; whereas, according to the UN Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Syria has seen 250,000 killed and 6.5 million displaced (and 4.8 million migrate) since 2011.

Hundreds of thousands of Congolese boys and girls have been abducted, raped, and conscripted. And, regarding conscription, the D. R. Congo’s “child soldiers” have become notorious for perpetrating acts of terror and unspeakable horror against their own people, including family members.

Clearly, these tortured and slaughtered children could have provided heartrending images of “the horrors of war and survival” for headline news every day for the past 20 years. Yet you’d be hard-pressed to recall ever seeing a single one.

What’s more, the children of war in countries like Mali, Nigeria, Central African Republic, and South Sudan could provide the same today. Not to mention those in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan.  But I digress….

SeaRescueMainExcept that, for more on displaced Africans emulating displaced Syrians (or vice versa) by fleeing to Europe, I refer you to such commentaries as “Lampedusa Tragedy Highlights Europe’s ‘Haitian’ Problem,” October 7, 2013, and “Migrants Still Turning Mediterranean Sea into a Cemetery,” June 1, 2016.

That said, the war in Syria now seems every bit as chronic as privation in Africa; specifically, the conditions that compel migrants to flee, respectively, show no signs of ebbing.

In fact, nothing ensures those conditions will only worsen quite like Russia bombing Syria to defend President Bashir al-Assad, the United States bombing Syria to defend opposition forces, Turkey bombing Syria to destroy so-called Kurdish terrorists, and Russia, the United States, and Turkey bombing Syria to destroy ISIS. Got that?

6e6bdabacdfa13c0f16eddb087c6501dApropos of this babel of bombing, aerial shots of this war-ravaged country show why Mother Nature, with earthquakes like the ones that struck in Italy and Myanmar today, has nothing on mankind when it comes wreaking senseless death and utter destruction….

Human rights groups are pleading for a temporary cessation of hostilities to enable humanitarian relief. But the bombings have become so inexorable and unwieldy that thinking humanitarian relief will save Syrian children is rather like thinking bailing water would’ve saved the Titanic.

Syria is a hopeless cause if the United States fails to lead a coalition of the willing to enforce a safe zone – inside Syria. At the very least, a safe zone would stem the tide of Syrians migrating to Europe and might even encourage many of them to return home, if they’re not forcibly repatriated.

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 11.34.27 AM

Here, for example, is what I wrote in “Europe’s Migration Crisis: Sowing Seeds of Unintended but all too Foreseeable Consequences”, September 7, 2015.

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Even the United States is no longer welcoming unyielding waves of huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Therefore, as Orbán warns, it seems irresponsible for Europe to be doing so.

Accordingly, I reiterate that European leaders should coordinate comprehensive humanitarian interventions, enabled and protected by NATO (not UN) forces, to contain would-be migrants within their borders. It’s clearly far better to provide local safe zones than for migrants to continue risking life and limb, only to end up in splendid desolation in Europe, or in fetid isolation in internment camps, where millions are being detained today in Jordan (pictured), Lebanon, Turkey, and, increasingly, in Hungary.

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Not to mention that, besides all of the humanitarian benefits, if Obama had chosen from the outset to enforce a safe zone, he would not be repeating the same mistakes in Syria today (masquerading as a fight against ISIS) that he claims he regrets making in Libya. Of course, he pursued regime change/nation building in Libya only to suffer the same kinds of all too foreseeable pitfalls his predecessor suffered in Iraq.

I also predicted in “Bombing ISIS Smacks of Masturbatory Violence,” November 18, 2015, that the highly touted Russian intervention would do no more to resolve the Alawite-Sunni-ISIS conflict in Syria than American intervention has done to resolve the Shia-Sunni-Kurd conflict in Iraq. Sure enough, here we are.

Frankly, I have bemoaned these foreign follies in far too many commentaries. I have also duly noted that enforcing safe zones applies as much to war-ravaged countries in Africa as to those in the Middle East.

Again, all else is folly

Related commentaries:
DR Congo
Migrants Mediterranean Sea
Europe’s migration crisis

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