Scrolling Headlines:

Ray Pigozzi shines in first game back for the UMass hockey team since November 4 -

December 2, 2016

UMass starts hot, finishes strong in upset win over No. 12 Notre Dame -

December 2, 2016

SGA vice president will resign at the end of the semester -

December 2, 2016

Raise the Flag protestors praise -

December 2, 2016

Dining and Housekeeping employees at Smith College seek new contract -

December 1, 2016

In response to election, immigration lawyer briefs students on potential changes -

December 1, 2016

Avinoam Patt discusses the role of displaced Jews in the creation of Israel -

December 1, 2016

UMass women’s basketball falls to Hartford, snaps three-game winning streak -

December 1, 2016

Brison Gresham makes long awaited debut for UMass men’s basketball -

December 1, 2016

UMass hockey hosts No. 12 Notre Dame in Hockey East doubleheader -

December 1, 2016

UMass men’s basketball picks up fourth straight win as it tops Wagner Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

December 1, 2016

UMass hockey gets chance to bond during trip to Belfast -

December 1, 2016

The true backbone of America -

December 1, 2016

Letter: Craig’s Place to fight against fatal budget cuts -

December 1, 2016

Enduring the 2016 Tower Run at Du Bois Library -

December 1, 2016

C.J. Anderson, Malik Hines each have career nights in UMass men’s basketball’s win over Wagner -

November 30, 2016

Panelists talk about their experiences with incarceration in the Feinberg Lecture Series -

November 30, 2016

Suzanne Fenton discusses the effects of early life chemical exposure -

November 30, 2016

Christmas tree farmers discuss effects of New England drought on their harvest -

November 30, 2016

UMass men’s basketball’s frontcourt looks to build on solid start to season -

November 30, 2016

Images and Intervention

See the boy in the back of the truck, his short legs dangle off of the orange seat. His hair, long and matted, almost covers his dark, ghostly eyes. He lifts his hand to his face and rubs it, then looks at his palms: crimson blood. He doesn’t cry but coughs and sneezes; soot rises off of his body. The house he once lived in is a cloud of scattered particles on a crusted and bloodied “cat-dog” t-shirt.

See the boy face down on the beach. The tide comes in and wets his black hair, and comes out. His purple and cold skin is visible, even from a distance. He doesn’t cry as the chilled water comes over him and washes away. On his black worn shoes are bubbles and suds from the ocean. He has been there for a while.

These two boys have become the face of the Syrian Civil War. It is images like Omran Daqneesh and Alan Kurdi that have historically spurred some type of unified response and in some cases intervention.

In 1972, during the Vietnam War, it was the image of 7-year-old Phan Thi Kim Phuc naked and screaming, running from her napalmed village of Trang Bang in South Vietnam. It was also the image of the Saigon Police Chief Nguyen Ngoc Loan, executing a Vietcong officer, his face contorted with tears and pain in front of news cameras that displayed the war’s brutality.

Shortly after these images were released, public opinion turned from complacency to outrage, from idleness to activism. Protestors took to the streets and demanded the end of a prolonged and bloodied conflict. The U.S. government, under extreme pressure domestically and internationally, slowly withdrew troops from the area.

A similar story echoed in 2004. In the basement of the Abu Graib prison, three years into the Iraq War, Ali Shallal al-Qaisi stands on a cardboard box. His arms are outstretched, crucified with obedience, past the black shawl he wears. His palms face outward with wires attached at the fingertips to a battery within the box and on his head is a black hood.

Al-Qaisi was just one of many who were tortured, defiled and abused within the prison walls of Abu Graib. Following the release of these images, the world demanded the reinstitution of human rights for U.S. prisoners of war; although the Bush administration was slow to change its policy on this matter, eventually the prison was shut down and those responsible were punished accordingly.
In 2016, a deafening silence lingers, broken intermittently by the condemnations of a few, but largely quiet.

The impugnation of Kerry, of Merkel, of Cameron, of Clinton, of secretaries, of ambassadors, of prime ministers, of diplomats, of politicians and political scientists, of international relations experts have rung hollow—they are drowned out by the screams of those homeless, hungry and bloodied. They are swallowed by the bombings and devastation of Aleppo. Washed up, quiet, like a three-year-old child on the beaches of Turkey. And for what?

Why is the United States willing to inject itself into a foreign war, into Iraq and Afghanistan, into Vietnam, proclaiming ideals of humanitarianism and democracy and yet neglecting one of the most pressing crises of the 21st century? If you asked an international relations expert, or perhaps observe the trend over the last hundred years, the answer is very simple: the lack of national interest.

In the most basic sense, the United States has nothing to gain by intervening in the war in Syria. There exists no geopolitical advantage, no oil to be gained, no resources to extract from the dry plains of the Sahara or the devastated cities of Aleppo or Damascus.

In terms of the “balance of power” principles, the U.S. remains gridlocked in a war of theory between Russia and the Syrian government. As Russia attempts to assert a sphere of influence over the region, it will continue to support the Assad regime by whatever means necessary, as it has continued to do this past weekend. It will continue to pound Aleppo with bunker busters, with cluster bombs and munitions.

The recent and failed cease-fire agreement, I would imagine, is to be one of many failed diplomatic efforts over the next few years.

But perhaps there is hope. Perhaps Putin or Assad will come to the realization that their war against the civilians of Syria, that the creation of more Daqneeshes and Kurdis, that the totality of destruction placed upon a country, a people, a child, is not the means by which diplomacy should be negotiated. Perhaps a more striking image than the ones described in this article will emerge from the trenches and shock the world into action.
Until then, I will wait. As will the citizens, the people and the children of Syria.

Josh Raposa can be reached at jraposa@umass.edu.

Comments
One Response to “Images and Intervention”
  1. David Hunt 1990 says:

    Meanwhile, the treasonous Democrats use this crisis to import vast numbers of Muslims into the US who will reliably vote Democrat… and who are cackling behind their smiles as they continue the Jihad conquest of the West with useful idiots inviting in the barbarian hordes.

    WHEN you are beaten by these people, I will laugh. WHEN you are raped by them, WHEN you are killed by them, I will laugh.

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