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Posted: February 20, 2016

There are ways to end the Middle East madness

Gerry WarnerPerceptions by Gerry Warner

When war is declared, the first casualty is truth.”

Hiram Johnson

I don’t know a much truer statement than the one above. But it’s one mankind never seems to learn as war seems to hard wired in our DNA as the history of the human race demonstrates with numbing regularity.

And it’s happening again now in Ottawa with our Prime Minister being hammered from all corners for withdrawing our jet fighters from the Syrian civil war, surely one of the most senseless and destructive wars in modern history.

This is a war so terrible that it has killed close to 300,000 people to date, including 115,000 civilians in Syria – the bulk of those made up of women and children – while some four million Syrians have fled the country to get away from the carnage, according to an article in the Feb. 19 Huffington Post.

And who’s killing the civilians? Certainly the army of Syria’s sadistic President Bashar al-Assad has killed the most, but we’ve got blood on our hands too with documented incidents of the US-led coalition, which includes Canada, killing civilians as well. These incidents are always labeled as “accidental,” but the sad fact of the matter is that civilians are inevitably killed in any war no matter who’s fighting it.

Think about it. Before they were pulled out Feb. 15, our six CF-18 jets in Syria flew numerous missions over Syria at 30,000 to 40,000 feet firing supposedly “smart bombs” (missiles actually) at targets given to them by US “intelligence” obtained from God knows where that claimed it knew where the “bad guys” (ISIS militants) were down below and the missiles would pick them out from the crowd while leaving the “good guys” (non ISIS members) untouched as they sipped their chai or knelt on their prayer rugs.

If you believe that, I’ll give you some pills that’ll turn water into wine! That’s why we end up killing civilians in Syria too – men, women and children – and why almost a quarter of Syria’s population has fled the chaotic country with little more than the shirts on their backs literally walking and drowning their way to the Western World where at least some semblance of civilization exists.

This is a migration of Biblical proportions. There haven’t been this many refugees on the move since the end of the Second World War. And we’ve only seen the beginning of it. According to a United Nations report, 60 million refugees have been forced from their homes by violence worldwide with four million of these coming from Syria alone. Growth of the refugee population has already accelerated dramatically this year overwhelming Europe, including Germany, which has accepted more than a million.

As they pour out of the Middle East, Africa and Asia, where do you think they’re heading? Certainly a large portion will try to come to North America where there is lots of space, democratic governments (mostly) and a standard of living beyond their wildest dreams. As a result, we’d better get ready for a sea change in worldwide population distribution because it’s coming whether we like it or not. And yes, there are those who would like to bar the doors and retreat behind their fortress walls and ignore the misery the refugees are going through.

I can understand people feeling fearful and uneasy because change is always disruptive. But ignoring the situation in a globalized world is no longer an option. Neither is a Donald Trump wall to keep the refugees at bay. And the war we’re waging now just makes the situation worse. Far worse!

So what’s the answer? Obviously the war must be ended to staunch the flow of refugees, giving them the opportunity o return home, which most of them want to do. A UN Peace Force must be sent to Syria to keep the peace with boots on the ground instead of “smart bombs,” which have never worked and never will. Finally we’ve got to learn how to love our neighbors without reservation because killing them just doesn’t work.

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist and militant pacifist.

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