Late September saw the beginning of Russia’s military campaign in Syria, a mission said to be aimed at weakening the hold the Islamic State—formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant—on the area.
When the bombings began, the United States and other Western countries were outraged to find that Russia was not bombing IS controlled areas exclusively, but also areas controlled by rebel armies attempting to topple Al-Assad’s government.
The US’ problem with Russia is this: the West armed those militias. The US has been trying to dismantle Assad’s regime for years, and now Russia is undermining the whole campaign with their own agenda.
My problem is this: a bomb is a bomb no matter who is dropping them, and destruction is destruction no matter who is pushing what agenda. People so quick to condemn Russia for their actions in the Middle East do not think for a second about the implications of our own country’s actions abroad.
The US has a massive problem with thinking it has all the power and glory to police the world on human rights and justice. But a quick look at our own record shows a laundry list of atrocities and violations of international laws that go unpunished.
Within and beyond our own boarders, the US has broken internationally agreed upon policies on the treatment of prisoners, the conduct of warfare and mass surveillance.
Beyond our own atrocities, the US constantly defends certain countries from receiving sanctions for human rights violations, most notably Israel and Saudi Arabia. Most of the world has condemned Israeli treatment of Palestinians, and their set up of a brutal apartheid state. But our relationship to them is a major factor in their elusion of any actual international action against them.
As far as Saudi Arabia goes, our dependence on the country for our oil is what drives our relationship with them despite the state’s horrifying human rights record. In the past year, Saudi Arabia has beheaded more people than the IS has. Yet when Saudi’s King Abdullah died last January, President Obama and his wife were in attendance at his funeral.
By means of secret deals with the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia has managed to be appointed as head of the United Nations’ human rights council. The country is currently launching an investigation of violations in Yemen. The only problem is that many of the atrocities occurring in Yemen are the fault of countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Only a week ago, Saudi Arabia allegedly exacted a drone strike in Yemen that hit a wedding, killing over 100 civilians in what is being considered one of the single bloodiest events yet in the Yemeni Civil War. It is unlikely horrific events like these will be given any due process by this Saudi investigation, a campaign that many UN nations pushed to be independently conducted, without the sponsorship of a single country.
If you condemn Russian bombing of Syrian militias, or their arming of Ukrainian rebels, then you should also condemn US predator drone strikes across the globe and our constant coups against government administrations that don’t support our political or corporate agendas. In addition, you shouldn’t support US arming of militants in Middle East countries, an action that has inevitably led to the rise of terrorist organizations like the IS.
We often think of the US as a great nation that propagates peace, but this is hardly the case. We the people harshly critique the actions of our government, both outside and within our borders. If we apply enough pressure perhaps something will change, but following our leaders in a blind, nationalistic fervor will only cause more damage to ourselves and the world over.