The poor child survivor of a blast in rebel controlled Aleppo Syria is everywhere. His name is Omran. On YouTube, his image fills the page, demoting other child injury news way down the page. On any given day, more than 20,000 children die around the world with little acknowledgement. The viral video of this boy at this time serves a political motive — promoting long-standing plans to attack Syria.
CHILDREN DYING EVERY DAY
- “Globally, an estimated 2,000 children under the age of five die every day from diarrhoeal diseases and of these some 1,800 deaths are linked to water, sanitation and hygiene… Almost 90 per cent of child deaths from diarrhoeal diseases are directly linked to contaminated water, lack of sanitation, or inadequate hygiene.” (2013)
- “Nearly 9 million children under the age of five die every year, according to 2007 figures.” That was 24,657 a day according to World Health Organization (WHO).
- UNICEF reports that “In 1990, 12.7 million children around the world died before reaching their fifth birthday; in 2015, that number has fallen to 5.9 million children. Over the same period, the number of newborn babies who died within the first 28 days of life declined from 5.1 million to 2.7 million.” The under-five crowd is dying at a rate over 16,000 per day, but that’s an improvement.
- Last week in Yemen, “At least 10 children have been killed and about 30 injured in an air strike on a school.” There is video waiting to go viral. Earlier this year, “A Saudi airstrike hit a crowded marketplace in Mastaba, Yemen, on March 15, killing at least 97 civilians, including 25 children.” There is video of this too.
POLITICAL MOTIVATIONS FOR MORE WAR
In Syria, Bashar al-Assad has been president since 2000, when he won an election unopposed, replacing his father who ran the country from 1971. During much of that time, the United States was willing to condone the situation until a spark lit in 2011 — an uprising occurred in the Arab Spring and a civil war began.
The United States took the position that Bashar al-Assad must be removed, even as “Islamic State” or ISIS began gaining territories in the nation. ISIS was the group that has claimed responsibility for increasing terrorism in Europe and the United States. ISIS took credit for the Paris attacks, the mass shooting in Orlando, the series of bombings in Brussels, the ax attack on a German train, and so many more.
If the past is any indication, escalation will not save any children.
Nevertheless, the U.S. insisted that removing the “dictator” was the top priority, and ISIS appeared to be a secondary consideration. The U.S. supported so-called moderate rebels and American weapons wound up in the hands of terror group ISIS. After a procession of politicians insisting that Bashar al-Assad had to go, views appeared to shift away from regime change for a while. But a few weeks ago, “More than 50 State Department officials signed an internal memo protesting U.S. policy in Syria, calling for targeted U.S. military strikes against the regime of Bashar al-Assad and urging regime change as the only way to defeat ISIS.” Then, the viral video struck at our emotions.
The viral video with the poor five year old child arrived all over the TV with anchors sometimes in tears over the atrocity. U.S. officials blamed Syria for the bombing, but Russia denied the charge. A Russian military spokesman “suggested the attack could have been carried out by rebels in Aleppo using homemade rockets to target roads close to the humanitarian corridors to undermine Russia’s efforts.”
INTERVENTIONS ALWAYS KILL MORE CHILDREN
If the past is any indication, escalation will not save any children. A report after “The Gulf War” indicated that over half a million children died as a result of the war and the sanctions. Former Secretary of State Madelaine Albright said “the price was worth it.” The dictator of Iraq was eventually removed. That’s what mattered most.
Even American lives did not matter much, as the Department of Veterans Affairs later determined that over 8,000 U.S. service members died [PDF] by 2002 as a result of duties in the Iraq theater. Since then, the 2003 escalation and the destruction of Iraq has killed untold millions and caused the rise of ISIS.
Many additional casualty reports followed. Iraq Body Count kept a list of verified deaths, only counting those who could be named. A study by the Lancet [PDF] found that 655,000 killed from 2003 to 2006. Tony Blair and George W. Bush claimed the Lancet study was not credible. “But the [UK] Ministry of Defence’s chief scientific adviser said the survey’s methods were ‘close to best practice.'” Also, “The number of United States troops who have died fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had passed 6,800 at the beginning of 2015.”
Plans to invade Syria long preexisted the Arab Spring. In 2000, the infamous policy paper “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” warned that “a number of regimes deeply hostile to America — North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria – ‘already have or are developing ballistic missiles.'” In 2007, General Wesley Clark described a plan to invade seven countries including Syria. Since 2011, the opportunity has surfaced. The viral video of the boy is a major step in the process.
If children really mattered, politicians and officials might do a better job reducing child mortality rates where bombing and wars were not the method to do so. Progress is this area has been painfully slow.
Regime change in Syria would not stop ISIS. Rather, “U.S. military involvement in the Middle East has played a key role in creating the conditions that have given rise to vicious groups like the Islamic State, or ISIS.” More of the same will not produce something different.
In the meantime, Russia Today (RT) has released this short video report pointing out that there are other children whose stories are waiting to go viral.