On the Left’s Erasure of Syrians

April 15, 2018

This article is available in Spanish at Flores en Daraya.

It is hardly contentious that it is deeply and characteristically hypocritical of the West (US, France, and Britain) to launch strikes against Syrian targets in retaliation against Assad’s use of chemical weapons. Of course, the actions of such powerful states are driven by their own interests (material and otherwise) and are far from driven by care for the lives of Syrians who have been systematically exterminated by the Assad regime and its allies for the past seven years.

Generally speaking, the Right is opposed to the strikes as it believes that it is in the West’s interest not to intervene and waste its money trying to save barbaric Arabs and Muslims from each other. Instead it prefers to just let them sort out their own business, as though they are not themselves historically responsible for creating the current geopolitical conditions and state structures in which the Third World or, more specifically, the Middle East currently exists.

The Right believes that the West should spare the economic costs of such military interventions, limited or otherwise, to itself so that it can utilize them in other ways, namely instead of trying to “save” undeserving and inferior Arabs and Muslims, the costs of these military operations and deployments can be spent in ways that can directly advance the interests of other Westerners.

The Center (otherwise mysteriously known as the Establishment) is as equally driven by its own interests in condoning the airstrikes. Only half-wits will be under the illusion that the strikes are sincerely motivated by the well-being of Syrians. Here, one will find themselves agreeing with the conventional discourse of the Left as one points out the West’s long history of either militarily intervening (or invading and occupying) when it should not have intervened (Iraq), and not intervening (or intervening too late) when it should have done so (Bosnia, Rwanda, and Syria).

Moreover, the current world order is, militarily, politically, and legally, dominated by a handful of powerful, mostly Western, states, and therefore the position, influence, and interests of these powerful states are well protected through their permanent presence in the region through other forms of non-military intervention.

However, this is not to suggest that “Western intervention” in Syria is driven by dominating and stealing their material resources or because it wants to reshape the region so that it can establish a firm foothold against the axis of resistance or protect Israel. If this were the case, it would have intervened much earlier and on a scale much larger than just a limited number of airstrikes conducted in less than one hour.

This view belongs to narrow-minded ideologues constantly seeking to understand and describe the world through a preconceived set of ideas and narratives and is, due to a combination of limited intellect and stinking white privilege, incapable of making sense of the complexity and contradictions of the world.

The response of the Left is the biggest joke of all. Here, Western intervention is opposed and rightly so. But sadly, it is not opposed because the Left cares any more about Syrian lives than the Right or the Center do. Of course not. If that were the case, they would have been equally vocal against Russian imperialism in Syria and would have rallied in opposition to Russian occupation and bombing of Syrians.

If the Left cared about Syrians, it would have condemned the presence of Iranian military and Hezbollah militants fighting Syrians in Syria in order to protect and prop up their ally even if the price for this is burning the whole country and its people. The Left, just like the Right and the Center, is not driven by concern for the lives of Arabs and Muslims (and, to a large extent, this is also the case in its opposition to Zionism and support for Palestinians).

Instead, the Left’s sanctimonious opposition to Western intervention is motivated by its self-centered and characteristically Eurocentric discourse. That is, the Left is also driven by its own concerns rather than concern for the invisible other. To clarify, most of the Left’s opposition to Western intervention is because their discourse and practice is founded upon their opposition to their own regimes irrespective of whether this means support for the oppressed other (as in the case of Palestinians) or if it will mean abandoning them, if not actively facilitating their own extermination (as in the case of Syrians).

Thus, for the Left, it does not matter if Syrians live or die. This is not the issue. What matters is whether those Syrians are being killed by the West (or its allies like Saudi Arabia and Israel) or not. If they are, then this must be opposed. If they are not, and if it is their own fascist dictators, Iranian mullahs, or Russians that are doing the killing, then that is fine–as far as we are not the ones actually killing them. Therefore, the supremacy of the Right finds an equally potent expression in the discourse of the Left, its self-centeredness, and absolute non-concern for the non-Western other who does not emerge in their discourse except as an object instrumentalized to construct their own identity.