Pluralism and democracy cannot flourish among people whose sensibilities are firmly rooted in doctrine and dogma. This psyche breeds bellicosity that often transforms into jihadist zeal. One hopes that secretary of State John Kerry will be successful in forging a negotiated peace. With Assad firmly rooted in power, the chances of even a fragile peace are all but slim.
The award this year of the Nobel Prize for Literature to Alice Munro is inspiring. Less satisfactory is the Norwegian Nobel Committee's award of the Peace Prize to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The organization is doubtless well-intentioned, but it has absolutely no method to achieve its ends. It might be advisable for the Norwegian Nobel Committee to specify whether it is awarding the Peace Prize for genuine achievements of designated goals of peace, or for strenuous effort in such a cause with no implication of whether the recipient's efforts will actually be fruitful.
People worldwide can be forgiven for their sense of bewilderment at the constant back and forth between military and diplomatic solutions to the crisis in Syria. We've now been at this long enough for commentators to reverse their positions depending on the most recent developments. But there is one group -- a huge one -- for whom none of this really matters: refugees.
The inadmissibility of chemical weapons on the battlefield was as early as 1899 an international principle of war. As is often pointed out, even Hitler -- himself the victim of a gas attack -- recoiled from their use in battle. The First World War scrubbed battle of its supposed virtues and in the place of heroism instituted the practical diplomacy of a League of Nations.
Obama's "small footprint" action will, even if authorized by Congress, likely produce no advantageous consequence vis-à-vis American interests in Syria, but could illicit all of the bad consequences that are inevitably associated with acts of war. As the sports types say, he should go big or stay home.
It remains a difficult thing for Canadians to embrace when hearing little concerning the injustices of the governments of such regions as Syria. Certain voices indeed have been raised from within the Muslim/Arab communities, but the lack of overall response until it is too late remains a mystery. But is that enough to refuse any kind of intervention? Clearly not.