Friday, February 24, 2012

Syria: The Intervention Dilemma

For those of you who are not followers of mine on Twitter or friends of mine of Facebook (and any of you may feel to be so at any time; I truly enjoy meeting new people.) you would have missed a somewhat lengthy post I made on Syria. Syria, most notable the city of Homs, is under daily bombardment, shelling and rocket attacks; by their own government. You can skip over to YouTube and just search for Syria and no doubt you will find some very disturbing and graphic videos showing the massacre currently being imposed upon the people of Syria. There was a CNN article about why the world was not intervening in Syria and it really got me thinking.

At what point does it become the responsibility or right for any country to intervene in the affairs of another country? Though of late, my days of activism have become much more stationed to the distribution of information and truth and less aimed towards picket signs and encampments, it is very critical for me or any individual to really consider what such an action of intervention truly means. Even under the proper pretense, an intervention of any sorts is also an imposition. It is essentially a 'catch 22'. Using Syria as an example, the people of Syria beg for mercy and salvation from the death and violence being brought upon them by the hands of their own government. Intervention here would be in response to the people, not the government. At what point does it become acceptable for a nation to intervene on behalf of the people of another nation even if it's against those people's own government? Is it ever acceptable?

Questions. Questions. Questions. They pierce the inner sanctum of mind in moments like this. My most inward and basic desire is to help people; help humanity. Is that vain? Arrogant? Egoist? No. It is the sum of two parts that makes it truly honest: selfishness and altruism (I am in the process of writing a short publication on the idea of dualism. You may see the work in progress here.) With that burning desire comes the difficulties in contemplating the moral and ethical implications involved with any form of foreign intervention. 

My greatest problem when considering the idea of intervention is the inner debate of allowing each country its own right to develop versus the inherent human need to help other humans who are suffering. To what degree is it within my right to determine if some foreign country's government has passed beyond a boundary that could be considered 'development'? As an individual human being I must be compelled to aid my brothers and sisters of the Earth, but then as a government of a free and independent nation I must respect the diversity of culture of other nations and be tolerant of their judicial and cultural practices.

I know that what I see happening in Syria is wrong. It vibrates through my body straight to the very core of the foundation of my morality. Because of that, I feel that my greater instinctual desire and need to help others might lend me to walk down the path of intervention. However, the moment this realization springs to mind another suddenly opposes is. My obligations are to my the citizens of the country of which I govern. To intervene would easily not be in the best interests of the people of my nation (especially if this hypothetical meant 'my nation' was Canada and I had Harper's job). And then another dilemma, the people of Syria beg for help from the destruction and mayhem being caused by their own government; the Canadian government, in what it believes are the best interests of its people takes a non-intervention stance; the people of Canada rise up against their governments decision of non-intervention and demand action; now what? Are the people of one nation entitled to demand action in response to the plea from the people of a foreign nation?

As you can see there are many dilemmas when considering the idea of intervention in any situation, in this situation we've spoken mainly of Syria however. This does not exclude the fact that each and every time we have intervened in the affairs of foreign countries. It is hopefully an example of what our governments had to contend with when making these decisions although it is oftentimes evident that they are completely apathetic regardless. There is much to consider for me in light of this. Things such as what does equality truly mean if equality for you is not the same for me? How does one define true freedom when it may differ from nation to nation? How do you avoid imposing your ideas and concepts of rights, freedoms, justice and equality when intervening? Do you avoid it? Can you avoid it? So many questions.

You see, it is questions like these that made being a politician or member of the government a duty rather than a career option. These decisions, and many left unsaid, are difficult and complex in their nature. It takes a very wise, knowledgeable and keen individual to take on the responsibility of making such decisions in the name of an entire nation. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case as decisions like these are no longer based on morality and ethics but on dollars and cents. Being a Public Servant through service in the government (sounds like military enlistment there? Something you don't necessarily want to do but do for the sake of the collective because you have that ability?) is no longer about serving, it's about taking. If we had but one individual of true character leading just one nation...oh wait, we did. John F. Kennedy.