Zero. Zero. Zero.
That was the first three days of the Syrian Revolution.
Four. One. Two. One. Seven. Fifty-two. Zero.
That was the first full week.
Twenty. Fifteen. Six. Seven. Zero. Six. Zero.
It looked to subside the third week as a result of global condemnation.
Twenty-nine. Zero. Zero. Zero. Four. Zero. Zero.
The world was wrong – again.
Seventy-four. Five. Twenty-one. Seven. Eight. Two. One.
This was just the first month of government-sponsored killings of Syrian civilians demanding an end to decades of tyranny. Last week marked the 50th week of the uprising.
Ninety-six. One hundred and twenty-three. Sixty-nine. One hundred and forty-five. Ninety-eight. Thirty-five. Fifty-one.
As providers and consumers of the tech world marvel at Apple’s groundbreaking 25th billion mobile application download, the Syrian death toll clicker continues to add digits at a rate more telling of a civilization’s priorities. As the Americans, Russians and Chinese rehash old Cold War rivalries, innocent civilians and opposition fighters are killed daily. The perpetrators? The al-Assad dictatorial family, led today by Bashar al-Assad, whose father Hafez ruled the country for almost three decades, killing tens of thousands.
Yet again, the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon called for an end to the yearlong unrest. Yet again, he chastised the international community for failing to act against what he called the Syrian government’s “atrocious assault against its own people.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama have also called for al-Assad to step down or face possible charges for war crimes.
It amazes me to read articles and watch news reports that discuss the exact numbers of civilian deaths. The United Nations states that approximately 7,500 people have been killed since the uprisings began; other Syrian opposition sources say the number is higher than 9,000.
Whether or not seven thousand people are dead or nine thousand is the discourse of the West, but this type of discourse is insensitive and the exact numbers do not matter when every lost life is one too many.
When Europe fell into darkest moment since the Dark Ages in World War II, the United States intervened to save the free world from tyranny and oppression.
When Iraq – an oil rich nation – invaded Kuwait in 1990, the United States rushed to the aid of the tiny nation. When it was believed that Iraq was building weapons of mass destruction, the U.S. went to the aid of … someone, I’m assuming … and a trillion dollars later, we found nothing.
When Libya – an oil rich nation – imploded during the Arab Spring, Europe and America rushed to opposition forces’ aid to “prevent genocide” as Obama routinely stated. He was right, and intervention was absolutely necessary to remove the longest dictatorship in the Middle East.
But when Syria – a small, century-old country – plunged into sectarian violence, the world stood by. Like when millions of civilians were sent to the gas chambers, like when millions of civilians were raped and hacked with rusting machetes in Rwanda and Sudan, as thousands of civilians are constantly in the sights of Syrian Army snipers, the world preaches and fails to practice.
What will it take? Not even the murders of Western journalists are enough to compel the democracy-preaching West to intervene in Syria. Syrian activists are even begging us to help them, but America won’t even airdrop medical or food supplies to civilians stuck in Homs or Daraa.
Seventy-two. Thirty-nine. That’s the amount of people who were killed over the two days this article was written. It is obvious that the numbers will increase as the days go by. What is more obvious is the disastrous relationship the West will have with the Middle East in the next 50 years when those opposition fighters become leaders of nations.
In that future, when our leaders meet theirs, they will ask us: “where were you when we needed help?” We talk a lot of the economic burdens our children will suffer. We need to talk more about the social damage they will endure as defenders of democracy fail to practice what it preaches.
Roy Ribitzky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.