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Alan Levy


By Alan Levy, Assoc Professor, Brandon University

The murder of thousands by their own government in Syria once again is a test of global foreign affairs. The notion that we in the West have a higher standard that other countries or that how we all behaved in the past is not how we would behave today is nonsense. Six million Jews were murdered by Hitler in the Holocaust. We look back and ask how could that have happened? How did people allowed that to occur? But then there was the Rwandan Genocide, and the slaughter of thousands in what was Yugoslavia and now today there is Syria. These are all examples where the powers at be allowed the slaughtered of their own people and we stood by. But I thought we are now a more supreme ethical lot in the West compared to past generations (or to Russia and China who voted against assistance at the UN for Syria) and yet with all our smarts we allow this to occur today. How can this be? 
To see how people in Syria are being murdered daily by their own military begs the question Why are we in the West not taking action to at least obtain a ceasefire so people injured may be cared for. But no, our voices are silent towards assisting these people under such circumstances. Of course all Western countries give lots of lip service to how terrible this is. But real action is fettered based on what western countries view as in their own best interest. Not our ethical responsibility. I know I must be naive to think the world would operate so simply!
The notion that humanitarian intervention to promote democracy and human rights, does not apply to Syria as it does to other Middle East countries experiencing the Arab Spring is false . Western leaders seem to fail to understand when it comes to Syria that almost always the ethical agenda has at its core the rights of the individual--that assisting them now to gain their freedom will assist us in the future with Syria once the existing government is gone and a new one is formed.
The thesis I wish to put forth is that this underlying assumption (particularly prevalent within international relations theory),which claims that the pragmatic is distinguishable from the ethical, is wrong. They should be inherently connected.
If Syria was rich with oil or gold or other valuable minerals do you believe the Western countries would be so callous towards those fighting for their democratic freedom?
Human Resources, Labour Relations & Dispute Resolution
Department of Business Administration
Faculty of Arts & Graduate Faculty of Education
Brandon University
270-18th Street
Clark Hall, RM. 404
Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
R7A 6A9
Office Phone: 204-727-9708
 & International Graduate Program in Conflict Resolution and Mediation 
Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Israel
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Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.