All I can manage this morning is an expression of disgust and despair.
Yesterday morning, half a day or so before news of Paris began to reverberate around the world, the Los Angeles Times published an op-ed piece by Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch. The piece was about the opening of multilateral talks on Syria, scheduled to begin in Vienna today. Roth’s article expressed concern that the negotiators will set aside the on-going catastrophe affecting Syria’s civilian population until some sort of political resolution can be reached—a resolution bound to be a long time coming, assuming that it comes at all. “Meanwhile,” Roth reminds us,
the slaughter continues, with an estimated quarter of a million dead, 4 million refugees (many headed to Europe), an additional 6 million to 8 million displaced within the country, hundreds of thousands of civilians besieged, thousands more in detention, and suffering as far as the eye can see.
I do not know if the talks in Vienna will now be postponed in view of the Paris tragedy, but if they are, it will be a pitiful loss of perspective. Just as the reporting of events in Paris—the commercial media’s narrow fixation on it, their monotonous appeals to stay-tuned for more of the same—is yet another pitiful loss of perspective.
— “Remember Madrid, 2004?”
— “Hum, vaguely. What was it again . . . ?”
— “Bombs on trains, 191 killed, 1,800 wounded?”
— “Right . . . ”
The conflagration that sent a small flame leaping into the streets of Paris yesterday has been burning in the Middle East for decades. The black smoke of that blaze has been darkening our sun throughout all this time, while our eyes have grown so accustomed to the altered light that it almost seems as if everything were normal.
This morning I see that President Hollande has announced that this wanton murder of 127 Parisians will not go unavenged. France, he assures us, will visit on the heads of the barbarian perpetrators a “merciless” response. One can only imagine how many civilian heads will be proud to witness that noble redress. This very second the civilian death toll in Syria reached 250,000 plus 1—maybe. Who’s counting?
— Steve Webb, Zeteo Contributor
Credit: Top photo, from Syrian civil war, was taken by Hosam Katan for Reuters.
Link: If no quick end to the war in Syria can be found, at least protect the civilians, Kenneth Roth, Los Angeles Times, November 13, 2015.