These days, especially after the atrocious chemical attack on Damascus` suburbs, my online and offline friends keep asking me: what do you think about a US-led coalition intervening in Syria? Many of these folks agree that this regime should be put to an end, even by the use of force. Others reject the idea that American imperialism could strike again in the Region. Others simply dont have an opinion, and they ask us “experts” what they should think about it.
Let me first tell you that on this very matter I`m not an expert. I`m a media analyst, not a policy maker, not an expert in international relations. I can`t help thinking about Damascus, “my” Damascus, being bombed by the Americans. It`s such a terrible image. Nobody among us who has lived in Syria, got to know this beautiful country and its people would probably be at ease with the idea of foreign bombs, especially American bombs, being thrown there. We know how much Syrians love their country and how much they want to protect it from any intervention whatsoever.
Yet, many Syrians, many of my Syrian friends — and I have friends in different cities, with different religious and social backgrounds — want the American bombs to put an end to this regime. Or, at least, they wanted this to happen a year ago. Now what they tell me is:
“let us die. We got it, the international community doesnt care about us, about us being killed by our own government, so let us die in silence”.
I dont know whether we should agree with intervention or not. I dont have a black or white answer to this.
What I know is that the “international community” or, better said, politicians who count in the Western world, should have been more creative, far more creative, years ago, and work out a better solution than the usual “ok, there`s nothing left to do, let`s go there and bomb trying to have as few casualties as possible”. These politicians who earn the hell of a lot of money should have worked out something, something better than hosting the “Friends of Syria” meetings in nice hotels and give those Syrians a luxury lifestyle in a European capital for a couple of days. They could have done a better job with the opposition, they could have trained a political opposition. They did not. They spoiled them giving them good money, cars, offices, whatever the promise of a Western “dreamy” lifestyle unfolds. So many mistakes have been made by the political opposition and we are to blame. We could have done a better job, had we really wanted to.
But, what I also know is that this regime is criminal. This regime has been lying to its citizens for decades. They lied when the protests started, and they could have saved the country, so why shouldnt they not lie now? When I`m asked whether is the regime or the opposition who perpetrated the chemical attack on 20 August, I say: I dont know who did it, we cannot verify. But, had the regime been innocent it would have allowed observers immediately. They didnt. As much as they didnt allow independent journalists in the country when the protests first started, cause this way people would have seen peaceful protesters being fired at. They allowed reporters only when the demonstrations eventually turned into fights, when the Syrian Free Army was formed, when the violent element was finally there and visible, as the regime had wished from the get go. This regime knows how to play the game, and the media game, too. It has been in power for decades. Few days after the first protest broke out in Damascus — a small, peaceful one — the regime had already put advertising posters everywhere in town where the word “sectarianism” was repeated and repeated and repeated. Then the TV brainwash started, until the sectarian issue finally turned into a reality on the ground as the regime had wished.
Yes, I dont trust this regime, its promises to allow independent investigations, to start a dialogue, to promote reforms. We have been hearing these words for years with no result. And this can go on forever.
Yet, I cannot help thinking about “my” Damascus being bombed. In my city, Rome, I can still see the signs of the American bombings during World World II. They bombed us to liberate us from fascism. There were casualties and it took them a lot of time and of human lives to set our country free. Had the Americans not bombed our country, we dont know what the consequences of this decision would have been. Maybe the internal resistance, our partisans, would have liberated the country anyway. Maybe not. Maybe fascism could have won. I dont know and I`m asking myself in these hours, what would my country be now, had the Americans not bombed it? But, well, this was decades and decades ago..times were different..America was different..the world was different…and I`m afraid the US does not have a Marshall Plan ready for the Syrians, at least not in the “nice” way they had for us Italians..