The Real Horror Is Not War

The image of a Syrian toddler lying dead on a Turkish shore has shocked the world. The innocence screaming in the picture touches even the most self-centered and the selfish. The gruesome reality of the horrors which imperial designs and unceasing wars have unleashed in the Middle East is just beginning to dawn upon the public opinion of the rest of the world.

Where lays the responsibility for this menace? Who is to blame?  The ‘extremists’ or the global war-mongering elite? The unrestrained power of the states or the neo-nationalism? The insensitive humanity of our times or the self-interests of the media house to portray the world as the powerful want? Is the world really as globalised as we have been led to believe? I find myself unable to reach at the right answer. Perhaps, everyone is to blame or probably humanity itself is much less poetic than we think it is.

Aylan Kurdi, 3, whose frail dead body’s image has gone viral on the internet, is just the tip of the iceberg. The seed of this horror was planted years ago, may be decades. Aylan Kurdi’s body lies upon a mountain of dead bodies and crimes against humanity which began a long time ago while the public opinion of the world conveniently slept or just did not bother. I do not want to sound condescending; however, the ugly reality is that all of us let all of this happen. The Syrian civil war did not start just before Aylan Kurdi and his family tried to swim their way to Canada. The creation of ISIS is not exclusive and isolated from the recent history of the region. I do not know the reality of ambitions of ISIS or of its adversaries for that matter; however, I do know that non-state powers like ISIS exist because the powerful states of the world first exploited this region for their own designs of global domination, consolidated dictatorial regimes which brutalized their populations for a long time, and then these powerful states bombed and pillaged these countries on the most bizarre of pretexts. They just did not stop there, they encouraged divisive policies, promoted one ethnic or sectarian group against another, and now they watch on the sidelines waiting patiently for the results of their proxy chess game.

English: President Saddam Hussein of Iraq, &qu...
English: President Saddam Hussein of Iraq, “Baghdad Observer” frontpage 26th of January and 21st of June 1988 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The real reason of all these horrors some of which we now know and many which we do not is not war or neo-imperialism but the fact that we turned a blind eye. We, the people of this world, let our governments interfere in other countries; we let them overtly or covertly undermine other nations, we let them invade, pillage and destroy whole communities.

When Iraq was rammed again and again by the western powers in the past two and a half decades, thousands of Aylan Kurdi died just because a government thought Saddam Hussein had WMDs hidden somewhere, and the people of the rest of the world conveniently forgot who patronized Saddam Hussein just because they did not like Iran. The people of the rest of the world had let war happen, rest is history.

War is not the real horror; the real horror is when a population lets a person in power tell them that people in another country deserve to die. The real horror is our ability to believe our governments without question, and the real horror is to conveniently forget that in many parts of the world people are dying just because someone can kill them.

Author: Bilal Khan

I am a Lahore, Pakistan, based researcher in the fields of Political Science, Public Policy, and Public Administration.