Lawrence of Arabia remains one of the most poignant films ever made. Although far from an historical documentary, it offers tremendous insights into the thinking behind the Arab Revolt (1916-18) and the administration of the post-Ottoman British mandates in the Arab world.
A particularly memorable line on the nature of war, states:
Young men make wars, and the virtues of war are the virtues of young men, courage and hope for the future.
Then old men make the peace and the vices of peace are the vices of old men, mistrust and caution.
The same could be said of almost any war. In the case of Syria, the war presents us with a twisted paradox. The current conflict was entirely unneeded and avoidable, although it has grown into the most apparent battle between moral good and immoral evil since the Great Patriotic War against Hitler’s fascism.
On the one hand, it was one of the most unnecessary wars in human history. Syria prior to 2011, was a peaceful, prosperous country, at peace with itself and in spite of hostility from Israel and Jordan, Syria did not resort to threatening her neighbours. By 2011, Syria had disengaged from Lebanon peacefully and had stayed out of the swamp of chaos which brewed in Iraq as a result of the illegal 2003 US/UK invasion.
Syria had high living standards, superb educational standards and a culture where all groups saw themselves as Syrians, equal in the eyes of the law and society.
But in 2011, Syria was punished for her independence when foreign powers ignited a conflict where there was none. No country is perfect and in this sense Syria in 2010 was not exceptional. But Syria’s problems were little different than those of any normal, functioning country in peace time and in this sense, Syria was also totally unexceptional.
After a protracted struggle, it is now virtually guaranteed that President Assad and the Syrian Arab Republic will thwart the terrorists and terrorist states currently occupying the country. The race to control the peace however, is now on.
The young men are fighting the battle but the old men are getting ready to fight for control of the peace.
In a recent interview President Bashar al-Assad gave to Tass, he spoke of his openness to a referendum on Syria’s future. Ostensibly the referendum would be on proposals for a new constitutional order.
The Syrian President stated, “The war itself is a very tough lesson for every society…At the end you have to look at yourself and to say, ‘What’s wrong with my country?’ My agenda is to open and facilitate dialogue between the Syrians, because this is a national discussion about what’s the political system that you want. That needs a dialogue between the widest spectrum of the Syrian society, because at the end, you’re going to have a referendum regarding that point.
In the same interview, he correctly assigned blame to European powers for funding terrorists and forcing people to flee the country due to economic sanctions.
President Assad was always reform minded whilst remaining a patriotic leader and an adherent to the secular, modern, socialist principles of Ba’athism which have governed Syria since the 8 March Revolution of 1963.
Now after six years, endless bloodshed and the fomenting of sectarian hatreds where there once was peace, Syria is slowly getting back to where it started; a peaceful, united country under the leadership of President Assad. Truly a war for nothing, even from the perspective of the aggressors.
But then one has the other end of this paradox. In unleashing the hell of backward, savage, barbaric Salifist terrorism on a secular, modern, peaceful country, the enemies of Syria have exposed to the world, who is on the side of good and evil.
Unlike more complex civil wars like the one in Yemen, the conflict in Syria can actually be viewed in simple terms.
There are foreign illegal invaders fighting patriotic Syrians who come from all backgrounds (politically and otherwise). Even political opponents of the ruling party oppose the invasion and generally support resistance.
There are the forces of hateful Salifist Sunni extremism fighting moderate Sunnis (who are the majority of Syrian Sunnis), all Shi’a Muslims, all Christians and all others. And there are those from Turkey, Europe and the New World, fighting a country that is overwhelmingly Arab with a minority of Kurds, Druzes, Ismailis and Greeks, all of whom are Syrian citizens with the same civic rights as Arabs of any faith.
Whilst no war is purely black and white, some are more straightforward than others and not since the heroic Soviet struggle against the evils of fascism has something been so clear cut.
The old men will soon argue over the peace, something entirely unnecessary as peace existed without challenge prior to the conflict. It is such a pity that so many people of all varieties had to die in order to prove this point that history has all ready proved thousands of times over.