Will he or will he not? Launch a (the) bomb attack on Syria. That was the question end of last week. The tweeting addict and diplomacy immune US President unfortunately has the means. Already at the beginning of his mandate he was presented as “the man who loves bombs” and this was not taken seriously by many. During the cold war times diplomacy was a public asset and normally had the potential to prevent conflict from escalating. Today’s risk seems to be that with the ego of the main (foreign) actors like Trump and Putin, a regional conflict is getting out of control, as the (cold war) super powers are facing each other once again. It is not a surprise that the nuclear powers UK and France who represent overcome and lost empires did not want to stand aside.
Since the beginning of the war in Syria nothing has really been done to prevent a/the humanitarian catastrophe. The famous red lines defined by the US, UK and France have several times been transgressed without the chance of a common response being developed and the civilians safeguarded. In addition the intervention of the mentioned powers behind the scenes of the conflict makes coming up with a solution difficult as the precondition would be that, one of the key elements in it would step back of Assad. Being supported by Russia is obviously what holds him in his position whereas the opposition is divided and not really representing a democratic force that would be the alternative to the current scenario.
What could be the alternatives? From the point of view of a civic movement based on peace culture, it can only be disarmament as formally proposed by the Swedish government formally (although many civil society movements have made this claim before). Furthermore the verification of OPWC would have been a must since we might still remember how the Iraq intervention was based on made-up and falsified facts. The risk is not that of a new cold war, the risk is a hot war as the situation can easily get out of control and the new confrontation will not only be by words nor solved by them. It’s time for the civil society movement to stand again for peaceful conflict resolution with disarmament as its first step. It would be in vain to discuss on a 6th scenario for Europe if we do not contemplate the risk of a hot war in which we would see ourselves dragged in regardless of the role we had played till then. It’s time for Europe to take action and not leave the “belligérants” drain us into a new catastrophe. As often said: history may not repeat itself, but the lessons are not always learned! Hopefully today’s Council of Minister of Foreign Affairs brings reasonable diplomatic undertakings on the way – before it might be too late.