Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Aleppo. Wars will end when we stop believing that they will never end


Most people who are aware of the situation in Aleppo are affected emotionally by what is happening : saddened angered, ashamed and confused. A minority are unaffected;  a tiny minority, in the region of 1-2%, because they simply never have been affected by other peoples' feelings. Others feel nothing because some event in the past caused them to switch off. A fairly small minority of politicos feel nothing because in their minds, Assad and Putin are right to do what they are doing, or at least are forced into doing regrettable things in order to do good.

Most of us though are upset by what we are seeing. We would be even more upset if we could see what is done in the other 44 (forty four) armed conflicts that are currently burning. The Big 4 are Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and West Africa.Then, in order of decreasing magnitude, we have the Mexican drug war (the one that Trump wants to stop people fleeing from), Somalia, Kurdish-Turkish conflict, Sudan, Libya, South Kordofan (Sudan again), Darfur, Nigeria, Sinai, Yemen (yes, it's tiny), Donbass (Ukraine) and North West Pakistan. And let's not forget that the UK would have figured in that list before the Good Friday Agreement.

It is trite to call wars insane. Of course they are. Wars happen when the civilised, reasonable faculty of the collective human mind breaks down into primitive, uncivilised sub-human, sub-animal destructive anger. War is anti-human, anti-life, anti-architecture, anti-everything. War causes nothing but misery. It is trite to say there are not victors in war. Everyone loses.

So why do we have wars? There are many factors that feed in to the ansAnd wrongly.wer to this question, but there is also one single answer: we believe that wars are inevitable. We believe that very deeply, and very universally. The belief erodes and undermines any effort to stop warfare. Instead, it spurs on the arms race that is one of the causes of the paranoia that generates warfare.

That belief is wrong. The fact is that wars are becoming less frequent. There is good evidence to show that humanity is progressing away from warfare over the centuries and over the decades. And there are many things we could do to limit them even further. The UN could  inhibit dictators and tyrants, could set up a Separatism Resolution Agency. We could control the dissemination of ammunition and most explosives. We could study the arts of peace. We could aim for annual growth in Gross Domestic Happiness.

There are many things we could do to stay sane.
But above all, we must stop believing that humans have to go mad every once in a while.
We don't.

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