Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sectarianism and ships that have sailed

Some people worry about a sectarian Armageddon in Syria, and some people try to  reassure the other people by saying that the Syrian opposition isn't that religious.

I have no idea whether there will be an Armageddon or how much sectarianism there is in Syria, but I do know the discussion leads nowhere.   That ship sailed well over a year ago.

What is very clear is that, at least that long ago, a lot of people in Syria became very pissed off with one another.  These people have formed, or have always been, in groups.  Violence was not inevitable until the régime used massive violence and indescribable torture against peaceful demonstrators - in fact against some people who weren't even demonstrating.   From that point on, there could be no peace, no reconciliation.   Suppose, then, that two things can still happen.   Assad can win, or he can lose.

If he wins, there will be an Armageddon, possibly sectarian.  There will be a prolonged explosion of anger and revenge.  It will look like what Syrian government forces now inflict on the population.

If Assad loses, there may also be an Armageddon, possibly sectarian - whether it will be better or worse than what Assad, post-victory, will inflict, no one knows.

You might suppose it more rational to pick the second outcome, because there is far less evidence that it will be catastrophic.   But there is no picking outcomes any more, for anyone.   The fighting will stop only when one side collapses.   It really doesn't matter whether some future Armageddon is sectarian or not.   Because there is nothing to choose, and hasn't been for a long time, this is a dead issue.   We know how Assad conducts himself.   Whatever anyone may suspect about his opponents, whatever indications of violent sectarianism may surface, there is no reason to suppose that opposition victory would be worse than Assad's defeat.

So maybe we can hear less about who wears what kind of beard.   We might also hear less about which side 'we' should support.   As if the great powers, much less the 'anti-imperialist' left, ever had any real support to offer!   It is not only on the right of the political spectrum that colonial mentalities die hard.

1 comment:

  1. As if... The left's preciosity is always less endearing.