Who’ll save Syria from the Syrians?

Many articles are circulating in the press about the Syrian conflict, and China and Russia’s refusal to allow the UN to intervene. I’ve read some of them, and then I decided to look up some statistics on our own Civil War (1861-65). Here are the casualty results of some of the most costly battles fought, all of which were in the Spring of 1864:

The Wilderness, May 5-7: 17,666
Spotsylvania, May 10 and 12: 10,920
Drewry’s Bluff, May 12-16: 4,160
Cold Harbor, June 1-3: 12,000
Petersburg, June 15-30: 16,569

Big Note: These are the “Federal” side only. Statistics for the Confederate side are lost. It’s likely that there were more Confederates lost, as their all-war average was 150 wounded per thousand engaged, as opposed to 112 for the Federal soldiers. (Statistics were pulled from a “random” website, http://www.civilwarhome.com/casualties.htm. Other sources exist which roughly parallel these figures.)

The real point of this is not the statistics. It is this: war sucks. A lot of people die or are wounded in battle. Civil wars are particularly devastating because it is often family member against family member. And outsiders, well-intentioned citizens of other countries, cannot really jump in and make any sense out of it without having lived intimately with the situation. We can all have our theories about what should be done, about who’s right and who’s wrong.

While I personally feel that Russia and China did the wrong thing in blocking the UN’s intervention, should we really have sent our soldiers – our own precious young men and women – over there to fight their battles? Wrong though their government may be – and I do think that their government is extremely wrong – is that necessarily our role?

That’s a question without an easy answer.

What are your thoughts?


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