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Aleppo Child And Beyond

War as Foreign Policy

Vivek Kumar Srivastava

Arescue team has recovered a very young boy Omran Daqneesh about five or less in years from Aleppo where the Syrian civil war is in full swing and bloody conflict is order of the day. The area has become the most focused zone of the study of the course of Syrian conflict and the big powers rivalry as the US and Russian interests also bisect the region.

The deaths have become common thing in Aleppo like other places in the region. The war in Aleppo is systematic exhibition of human tendency for control and violence. Man is argumentative and logic based living entity, hence offers arguments for such deadly happenings. The human rationale for war rests on the opposite arguments; of preservation of the regime for nation with national unity and the displacement of the regime for the common good.

The logic for comprehensive war and the limited war are always dependent upon these fundamentals. This is the psychological basis of the initiating and augmenting the war. There are always two interpretations and the greatest loser though always is humanity, not only in terms of the psychological trauma but also in terms of the physical deaths. The death is therefore crafted by the politician and the so self style reformers but end is the same.

The nature of war since the Peloponnesian war has remained the same and the arguments too largely confined to opposing binary of preservation and displacement. During the Peloponnesian war; in a speech the Lacedaemonian king, Archidamus, the leader of the expedition, exhorted : 'The course of war cannot be foreseen, and its attacks are generally dictated by the impulse of the moment; and where overweening self-confidence has despised preparation, a wise apprehension often been able to make head against superior numbers'. ('Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War)

War as human impulse and emotion has been recognised as the rational programme to defeat the adversary, the objective is to win but care of those who may die or injured is not taken into account. This psychological element of war is uniformly spread in the history of modern civilized men. During the middle age in the name of religion the wars were fought and the population declined in substantial numbers. Even the philosophy of German philosopher G W F Hegel (1770-1831) established that state should go for the war to remain active, it must be expansionist. The ideology of Fascism, Nazism borrowed much from Hegel and led to the world wars. But considerations for the common people were nowhere recognised.

The end days of Second World War brought a new form of war, the nuclear war- when in August 1945 Hiroshima and Nagasaki people experienced unlimited death, wounds and disabilities for the generations. Innocent people in the name of national interests were killed by the state power.

These realities establish that war is expression of Hobbesian understanding of human nature and Machiavellian state craft; common men are nowhere discussed or taken note of. Hobbes' nasty and brutish man appeared when US President Harry S Truman without any shame and apology sang the songs of achievements of science and human endeavours not about the deaths and disabilities after guiding the nuclear catastrophe. He stated "but the greatest marvel is not the size of the enterprise, its secrecy, nor its cost, but the achievement of scientific brains in putting together infinitely complex pieces of knowledge held by many men in different fields of science into a workable plan. And hardly less marvelous has been the capacity of industry to design, and of labor to operate, the machines and methods to do things never done before so that the brain child of many minds came forth in physical shape and performed as it was supposed to do. Both science and industry worked under the direction of the United States Army, which achieved a unique success in managing so diverse a problem in the advancement of knowledge in an amazingly short time. It is doubtful if such another combination could be got together in the world. What has been done is the greatest achievement of organized science in history. It was done under high pressure and without failure." (Statement by the President Announcing the Use of the A-Bomb at Hiroshima, August 6, 1945)

The destruction caused due to war is limited not only to war affected people. The wars cause deaths and disabilities to the soldiers(human beings in uniform for a national cause) as well; for illustration more than two-thirds (68 percent) of all the 58,220 American deaths in Vietnam occurred within just three years (1967. 1968, and 1969), though these 39,361 deaths include both hostile and non-hostile deaths,(and) Statistics indicate that 3.7 soldiers were wounded for each man killed in action (153,303 + 40,934) in Vietnam, which was a better survival ratio than during World War II. The Vietnam War produced 5,283 amputees, one amputee for every 11 deaths (a ratio which includes both hostile and non-hostile deaths), a better ratio of amputees to deaths than in previous wars; during World War II. (A T  Lawrence, Crucible Vietnam : Memoir of an Infantry Lieutenant, 2009)

The problem is that in the name of nationalism the soldiers are put to war. The innocent lives when killed provide a sense of relief to the soldiers; this psychological satisfaction is a consistent phenomenon in the human history.

The child was saved in Aleppo though all round efforts were going on to decimate the population. The England based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has documented death of 327 civilians including 76 children and 41 women in Aleppo and its countryside since the 31st of July until the 14th of August 2016 (and) dozens of civilians were wounded by the aerial bombardment on Aleppo and its countryside, several serious injuries were reported.

These killings remind that war in the contemporary time has become not the last but the first instrument of foreign policy and human angle is completely abandoned when this instrument is used by the nation states. Diplomacy which was treated as the first instrument of resolution of disputes has lost its utility; along with it peaceful negotiations and international organisations have been pushed into backyard. The problem with this approach is that it has not produced any positive results for the human civilisation, still in the name of technical terms national interest, nationalism it finds its rationale for use.

The moot point is- are these terms more relevant than the lives of so many like Syrian boy? The realist thinkers of the International Relations state that universal moral principle cannot be applied in the formulation of the foreign policy of the nation states. These approaches personify the state as the living entity, but the real living ones are sacrificed; since the ancient ages to present conflict in MENA (Middle Last North Africa) explicitly establish that a new philosophy of human civilisation is needed to be developed where the role of the war needs to be nuliified with a simple logic that human life is more important than the wishes of political leaders.

This is a tall proclamation but the face of Syrian boy enlightens people that war in any form, by any nation state is anathema to the survival of the human society. This face is face of all the peace loving people of the world. The biggest need is to moralise the human being, to contain the evil tendencies of violence and bullishness; but it is not a simple task hence other mechanisms may be applied.As for illustration a new path should be discovered by the world bodies like UNO. It must evolve by deliberations the mechanisms to contain the war like situations. International laws which are weak control system can be redefined and restructured. The people's movement is also needed to consolidate this viewpoint. Moreover the role of intellectuals in any form has become critical requirement to redefine the existence of human beings on this planet earth.

Frontier
Vol. 49, No.11, Sep 18 - 24, 2016