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One alternative hypothesis: NATO has been trying to goad Putin into taking ownership of what is a long-neglected Russian client, i.e., update the relationship in the post-Soviet era. That didn’t happen. Instead, with the gates to an unbridled capitalism open, the family picked up all the chips it could get and Russian business and military plus oligarchs got something out of the new deal too — just the people got screwed.

Cultural attitudes and beliefs have independent political effects. Whether with the Baloch or Syria, altruistic intervention and sacrifice demand a goodness within and an outcome in goodness achieved as perceived by those who would help. For both Russian and NATO interests, outcomes leading to continuing dictatorship or religious fascism, the prospect of either, keep the superpowers both at bay and apart. Where are the people other people would want to put into power?

That’s where the hesitation is.

The world would rather put $1 billion in the pot for UNHCR than produce a unified response in Syria. However, the conflict is so awful and wrong in so many ways, it’s sucking energy into it — first the wave of democratic revolutionaries, then the sectarian fighters and extremists, then the more powerful states of the world who can’t figure out how to approach it or organize it or help it organize itself in a way that has more positive effects for Israel, frankly, and the region in its totality.

In its most dismal aspect, Syria is reflective of a war in the head, essentially, and of its integration in regional and international states of affairs. A disaster, a dark star, a sucking black hole that holds and pulls in killers while displacing its population (82,000 casualties to date; 3.4 million IDPs and refugees to date).

I don’t know if any of this expressing make any difference at all.

Six million dead in the Holocaust (please, don’t deny it).

Three-point-four million homeless today in relation to Syria’s civil war.

Those are big numbers around which to wrap our heads.

I can barely imagine what it must feel like to wake up as, say, UNHCR staff responsible for drawing up plans and a budget for some portion of the millions of souls for whom Syria has failed to provide basic security.

The Jews know every life has its legend and know this no less so for Syrians, but heroic altruism necessarily stalls at the wall of hate and cannot do much beyond attending to the closest injured.


Humanity has fled Syria.

One hopes it will rediscover its better aspects soon, but then I type naturally with rose-colored glasses.