Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s basketball suffers disappointing loss to St. Bonaventure at Mullins Center Thursday -

January 19, 2017

REPORT: Tom Masella out as defensive coordinator for UMass football -

January 19, 2017

Zach Lewis, bench carry UMass men’s basketball in win over St. Joe’s -

January 19, 2017

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 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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