A Lifetime of War

Finnish diplomat and Nobel laureate Martti Ahtisaari suggested that there was a moment early on during Syria’s hideous war when a political solution could have been thrashed out. Ahtisaari claims that in February 2012, when the conflict had claimed under 10,000 lives, Russia’s envoy to the United Nations outlined a peace plan that could have led to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s exit from power.

Ahtisaari detailed the discussions in an interview with the Guardian newspaper: Vitaly Churkin, the Russian envoy, “said three things,” according to Ahtisaari. “One — we should not give arms to the opposition. Two — we should get a dialogue going between the opposition and Assad straight away. Three — we should find an elegant way for Assad to step aside…”

“… According to the Guardian, Ahtisaari had been sent in February 2012 to speak with the ambassadors of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council at the behest of the Elders, a group of senior statesmen and former world leaders focused on peace and the defense of human rights. The envoys from the United States, France and Britain apparently “ignored” Churkin’s proposal.

Nothing happened because I think [the Western diplomats], and many others, were convinced that Assad would be thrown out of office in a few weeks so there was no need to do anything,” Ahtisaari told the Guardian…”

“…What is clear is that greater diplomatic efforts then could have saved countless lives and the tragic unraveling of an entire nation. An estimated 300,000 Syrians have died in the conflict since 2011, while about 11 million Syrians — half of the country’s population — have been forced from their homes.

We should have prevented this from happening because this is a self-made disaster, this flow of refugees to our countries in Europe,” Ahtisaari told the Guardian. “I don’t see any other option but to take good care of these poor people.… We are paying the bills we have caused ourselves.”

Washington Post

Clarence Batchelor_1936There is exactly one reason I would possibly consider respecting for voting No, and that’s the magical federation possibility. If there was any remote possibility of real change in England to ensure the Westminster way of “democracy” was swept away, the House of Lords dismantled, First Past the Post replaced, and the damage done to the economy, welfare, NHS and education, then I might concede that to be a positive case for the union. That one thing, the idea that there could be nothing less than a full-scale revolution in England, is the only thing keeping me from losing all respect for the very idea of a No campaign.

Yet look where we are now. The Tories are continuing the dismantling of the NHS, are making strides in their pro-fossil anti-green agenda, and set their sights on worker’s rights. After the unsuccessful Syria strikes vote, where even their coalition partners could not bring themselves to vote for another military action, they are looking to make up for that failure. Even if Jeremy Corbyn wins spectacularly in 2020, that’s still over four years away. Four years is plenty of time to wreak havoc upon a country. Just look at Afghanistan, or Iraq, or Libya.

I know that it might well be the breaking point for me, in that if people still support the union when we invade yet another country.

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