One of the challenges I set myself a few years back as I moved into retirement and sought to find things to do that mattered, was to try to get a grip of what is going on in the world, so I can at least shed light to those even more perplexed than I regarding what is happening so they can make informed responses.
It has got me into a lot of trouble and even lost me friends, as part of my deliberation was to conclude that Brexit and Trump were on the whole good things and political correctness is a cancer eating into the nations soul. I have laid myself open to suggestions that I should do what retired people are meant to do, enjoy retirement and if I must then there are a load of do-gooder activities I can select from to keep me occupied. Yet persist I must, because our world needs watchmen and if not me then who?
The old adage comes to mind that the more I know, the more I realize I don’t know. Increasingly, I have become distrustful of sources of information, especially when it comes from mainstream media, which is why I spread my net wide. It is not so much they out rightly lie, although that does happen, but rather that they present information that is in line with the narrative they wish to put out and ignore that which does not fit that narrative.
There are many ‘hot spots’ in the world today and what is happening in one does bear a relationship with what is happening in another. But for the purpose of this posting, I want to focus on one such – Syria. One reason is in recent years my understanding of a complex situation has undergone change and even as I write I am struggling to find out where the truth actually lies and what needs to be done. I suspect that with issues closer to home, like the Grenfell fire, recent terror attack, Brexit negotiations, peoples attention will be diverted elsewhere, but to ignore what is happening would be a mistake.
I can think of two good reasons why we (and I am thinking of fellow Brits through the democratic process) cannot ignore events. Last week the USA shot down a Syrian jet, and this was followed by Russia threatening to shoot down USA planes that encroach into “forbidden” airspace, along with a rise in tension between the two countries. The refugee crisis, a direct consequence conflicts taking place in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East, is unresolved, and this has profound consequences for the rest of the world and is not unrelated to issues like immigration and Islamic terrorism.
I can well remember listening not so long ago to a debate in the Commons on whether or not to commit military resources to bringing down the Assad regime. As I listened to one after another Parliamentarian speak, notably Hillary Benn, I decided on balance we should. If I knew then what I know now, my response would have been different. That Assad’s demise has not yet happened is part due to his regime receiving support from the Russians. I have no doubt “despicable” is one adjective that can describe the Assad regime, but equally Assad with the help of the Russians have done more to thwart Isis than the US led alliance that has declared that this is its intention has done. It is also evident that the supposedly “good guys”, the rebels the US have tried to support, have been shown in many cases not to be so good after all and some of that support has gone to fund Isis (whether intentionally or not, I can’t say for sure).
The Trump declared intention to remove Isis and not get involved in regime change (as per his campaign promise) has not yet happened, and the neo-conservativism that has so influenced US foreign policy in recent years continues to rule the roost. And for the life of me, I cannot understand (I can – it is about bad and misguided people with agendas, hidden and otherwise) why the USA continues to pursue the Russian bad guy (e.g. rigging the US elections) narrative, and why Presidents Trump and Putin can’t have frank talks to work a solution? Lots of other things bother me too. The change from supporting one bad regime (Iran) to another (Saudi) realizing the two don’t like each other and yet have significant clout to influence what happens in the Middle East, is both understandable and bemusing and reminds me of Orwell’s 1984 when the ruling elite redefined who the enemy was. And don’t forget Israel, never to be discounted in the Middle East power dynamic. They have not been attacked by Isis, even low scale, raising questions of collusion etc. And talking about collusion, the fall of Iraq and Libya regimes (and maybe soon Syria), imminent danger of World War 3, and the thought of a hidden hand working toward a new world order, makes me think distinct possibility rather than conspiracy theory.
Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” John14:27. He also called on his disciples to “watch and pray”, which is what I try to do, besides other do-good stuff I can do. It seems to me though it is less important to figure out what is going on in the world than to be his faithful follower.