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BRIAN RICHARD JOSEPH: Apathy reigns while sociopaths slaughter civilians

Internally displaced Syrians from western Aleppo countryside ride on a vehicle with belongings in Hazano near Idlib, Syria, on Feb. 11, 2020. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi/File Photo - Reuters


Somehow between the extra snow shovelling and our dinner guests, I had missed my usual evening newscasts for several days. In the interim, a small, self-tuning pocket radio helped keep me abreast of the spread of the latest coronavirus from China and the growing economic distress in Canada caused by railroad blockades.

But there were no images on that small radio. For these, I turned to my regular fix of the BBC World News, CBC, CTV and PBS.

What I saw there made me wish the next winter blizzard would arrive.

First, the eternally persevering Judy Woodruff at PBS introduced a report from the Turkish-Syrian border. There, desperate refugees, fleeing the slaughter unleashed by the Syrian dictator and his Russian allies, were shown trying to survive winter in unheated tents without adequate food, water or medicine. This is to say nothing of the lack of decent sanitary facilities in camps packed five times beyond their capacity. Back in the towns and villages they had fled, what the Syrian artillery and barrels of explosives dropped from helicopters did not pulverize, the missiles and bombs of Russian air attacks did. Including, apparent deliberate attacks on hospitals and schools.

Meanwhile in the Turkish capital, the prime minister threatened a new military offensive with his infantry and tanks to push the refugees back from his country’s borders.

Could Hieronymus Bosch or Salvador Dali paint a more wretched or crazed sight of madmen inflicting mass misery on the innocent?

Surely this can only be described as a kind of world series of mad leaders — testosterone-poisoned males, all — inflicting the misery, pain and death of hell upon innocent women and children.

And over at the BBC, even the ever-equipoised Laura Trevelyan flinched slightly after showing images from the Greek island of Lisbos — of refugee children being cared for by those who cannot go out to bathrooms because of the surrounding violence. There, grown women are using children’s diapers because they risk violence and assault if they leave their dwelling spots to reach the camp toilet facilities.

The head of the United Nations human rights and refugee affairs branch appears next to express his shock, frustration and dismay at the complete failure of the Security Council to stop the carnage.

This is beginning to look dreadfully familiar to the impotence of the League of Nations to stop the Italian attacks on Abyssinia and the encroachments of Hitler in the 1930s.

And where is the much-vaunted “duty to protect” (civilians) doctrine advanced by Canada and other UN members? Where is the Western determination to stand up to the Russian bear in Crimea, Eastern Ukraine and Syria?

U.S. President Donald Trump is out of the action, sidelined by the urgent necessity to pardon convicted wealthy felons (future campaign donors!) while purging those honourable members of the State Department and the U.S. Armed Forces who dared tell the truth about his holding up aid to the Ukrainian government, which is fighting Russian encroachment.

Where did this current crop of male sociopaths come from? And what could now possibly go wrong?

Meanwhile, Walmart is having a sale on Chinese faux woolens! And Martha Stewart is pitching the new menu for submarine sandwiches!

And all the while, the slaughter of the innocents continues at the hands of a group of war criminals masquerading as political leaders. God help our children and grandchildren if this is the best we can do to protect innocent civilians.

Brian Joseph was Knox Canada Fellow at Harvard. He served in the privy council under Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. He lives in North Sydney.


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