If you were to listen to the BBC World Service, you'd get the sense that the ongoing conflict in Syria is a series of tragic events, resulting in the unnecessary deaths of innocent civilians. The Syrian Civil War is far from civil and is a complex web of multiple nastiness by many actors.
If you were to listen to Fox News though, or that insane ranty shoutbox called InfoWars (which someone directed me to look at before I wrote this), you'd get the impression that the conflict in Syria is the opening prelude to the beginning of Armageddon. In this strange strange worldview, Syria and Russia are joining forces before they march on Israel and only America is capable of saving Israel. Everything is going to get immediately worse, Putin is the Great Satan, the world is going to worship him and only America can truly see what's going on.
The only thing that I could think of after watching this kind of stuff was...
Team by team, reporters baffled, Trumped, tethered, cropped
Look at that low plane, fine, then,
Uh oh, overflow, population, common group
But it'll do, save yourself, serve yourself.
World serves its own needs, listen to your heart bleed.
Tell me with the Rapture and the reverent in the Right, right?
You vitriolic, patriotic, slam fight, bright light;
Feeling pretty psyched
It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.
Now that we've had some earthquakes, birds and snakes and aeroplanes, and I have dreamt about knives, Continental (cup-a-soup), the drift divide and mountains all in a line, the conditions for REM's song "The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" have been met and now we can start worrying ourselves into a state of panic.
Unlike in 1962 when Kennedy and Kruschev were engaged in a geopolitical game of waving banners all over the place, with the threat of nuclear war, today's leaders are even more insane than that. Vladimir Putin looks like something out of a 1960s advertisement for cigarettes and is frequently photographed with no shirt on, Donald J Trump is a previously bankrupted property developer turned reality TV star who still hasn't worked out that the Presidency is not a reality TV show, Bashar Assad is a nutbag who may or may not have gassed his own people, and other bit part players such as Kim Jong Un, Emmanuel Macron, Teresa May and our own Malcolm Turnbull, are all either overwhelmed, or just plain barbarous. Donald Trump who launched missiles at sites in Syria after supposed chemical attacks by Assad upon his own people (the first casualty of war is truth), has attracted the ire of Russia; which may or may not be a thing.
Putin as far as I'm aware has said nothing but RT is chalking this up as a case of unwarranted American aggression.
I'm afraid that there are so many layers of nastiness to all of this that I don't really understand most of what's going on other than to say that whatever happens, as an Australian citizen, my government will back up the United States to the hilt; no matter how I'll conceived and half baked the plans are (if indeed there are any).
Considering that Russia was seen by many futurologists as either the great Gog or Magog coming out of the north of Israel, and that Syria is also to the north of Israel, and the United States basically has an open cheque policy on Israel to fund whatever ill conceived and half baked plans that it might have (Israel is hardly an innocent party to a lot of the antagonism directed at it), then I'm half tempted to consider the idea of Armageddon.
Armageddon, or Tel Maggido, is basically a boring plains land in the north of the modern state of Israel. You can find it on Google maps if you like.
Because the Bible became a common cultural touchstone across the western world, then the Battle of Armageddon quite apart from any spiritual connotations that it might have, is a placeholder for the battle at the end of the world. I find it both interesting and downright terrifying that in the space of a weekend, I've heard the name Armageddon bandied about as if America's dropping of bombs upon Syria is somehow righteous.
Forgive my incredulity at this point but I very much doubt that Donald Trump is the saviour of anything, I doubt that Vladimir Putin is the Antichrist, and although I've seen the bombs rain down on Damascus I have my doubts on the validity of Bashar Assad having used chemical weapons on his own people. It could be completely true but having lived through the Second Gulf War which was started on the basis of intelligence which was later found to be made up, it really wouldn't surprise me to learn that the intelligence here was also dodgy. When you have someone as volatile as Donald Trump in charge, who might be facing his own troubles relating to his own presidency, then please forgive my caution in believing what's been put in front of me.
I also don't want to dismiss the thoughts that Putin or Assad are terrible either. Assad could very well have used chemical weapons against his own people and the nation of Syria itself is racked with about a dozen pro and anti government supporting factions, as well as ISIS still running around causing its own mayhem and destruction. The problem that I have is that between the sources on the ground being confused and the ability of news reporting outlets to be equally as confused, then truth is an incredibly murky thing to look at, let alone see through.
Assuming that Assad did use chemical weapons on his own people, then I guess that Trump ordering airstrikes along with co-ordinated help from France and Britain, is trying in part to draw a line somewhere in this conflict. Nobody in the west wants to be drawn into yet another protracted conflict with no answer and where it is difficult to tell who is on what side anyway. When you have multiple sides in an argument and most of them are wrong, you don't really want to step in and correct anyone. By ordering airstrikes, Trump has drawn that line in such a place as to say that his administration will not tolerate this particular kind of evil but doesn't want to deal with the rest of it. This is like smacking the odd hornet with a rolled up newspaper but leaving the nest alone.
Returning to the metaphor of Armageddon though, although I don't think that the latest round of airstrikes will result in anything other than banner waving and sabre rattling from western powers, I do think that for the people who live in Syria, you may as well call it Armageddon. When a bomb falls out of the sky, who cares what the motivation of the state who dropped it was? The destruction of your house, your possessions, and people who are nearest and dearest to you, basically is the end of the world. I don't really know if airstrikes in retaliation against chemical attacks is either justified or warranted, if it's based on completely real or made up information, but I do know that even if it was justified according to a set of objectives, I absolutely refuse to accept that it was in any way righteous.
In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the only voice that I've heard who I agree with was Jeremy Corbyn who demanded that Theresa May put up a defence as to why the RAF joined military strikes in Syria without first consulting parliament. Corbyn who seems actually concerned with the plight of the poor people who've had their houses and lives to pieces, quite rightly questioned the legitimacy of Syria strikes and told the the House of Commons* that Theresa May is accountable to the UK parliament, 'not the whims of the US president'.
Last night’s UN Security Council’s resolution must be a first step towards a comprehensive political settlement of the Syrian civil war, which is essential to defeating the threat from Isis.
Labour will consider any proposals the government brings forward, including its response to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee report opposing British air strikes in Syria
- Jeremy Corbyn’s statement on the United Nations involvement in the Syria crisis, 16th Apr 2018
That's where the real tragedy of all of this is. While we're all busy beating the war drums, during the ongoing conflict in Syria, it may as well be Armageddon because if the end of the world happens at the end of the world or next week, what's the difference? Meanwhile the tragic irony of this is that I think that people would prefer to be in Armageddon at the moment. Armageddon is a boring mound overlooking peaceful plains as far as the eye can see.