As technology increasingly gains in sophistication, the original of what we are shown, in the media for example, can be manipulated to such a degree that its genuineness becomes twisted, and we are misled into a false belief. It serves us to stand back from time to time and challenge what we are given, with a sense of realism and without passive acceptance, as I will do when the US intelligence reports are published this week, to prove Assad’s responsibility for the chemical attacks on his people, and to justify military action: such reports have been proven to be fabricated before.
The facts about the Syrian situation that are known include: a regime leader who is unpredictable and so dangerous; opposition forces which include a growing number of terrorists; a large stockpile of chemical weapons; millions of refugees needing help; an unstable Middle Eastern region; and divided world opinion with powerful nations such as China, Russia and Iran at odds with the US, the UK and other countries over Syria. It is a time for delicacy, not heavy-handedness.
Another core truth is that many Syrians are suffering, and it is right to want to help them, but inflammatory Western intervention “to teach Assad a lesson” could make their hardship worse. Much of great good could be achieved peacefully, such as ensuring the stability of neighbouring countries, focusing on helping the displaced, working with and not against our global peers, and strengthening the UN. Often, indirect involvement based on values of compassion is far more effective than direct interference in the affairs of another country, particularly if the meddling is based on mis-information and short-term impetuosity for the sake of expectation, plaudits and power.
The situation in Syria is explosive: whatever is decided, I hope we are given the truth, so that we can determine the reality for ourselves and observe what is done with discernment, even if it is mixed with sorrow.