Sunday, February 10, 2013

To aid without really aiding

Countries can affect each other in many different ways and with genesis of the technological age, countries can have powerful indirect influences on each other that could not have been predicted in a previous age. An example of this type of indirect influence is the situation in Syria. Syria is a country living in hell. It’s government is dictatorial, abusive, and corrupt. Rosoboronexport, a Russian weapons manufacturing company, is known to be Syria’s main arms dealer. One would like the think that with the compiling evidence against the Syrian government on civil rights abuses, Rosoboronexport would rightfully adjust its clients to limit or completely cut off Syria’s access to heavy weaponry. However, this is not the case. Syria continues to be one of the company’s main clients. The issue is that when other countries purchase products from Rosoboronexport, it fuels their business pursuits and does nothing to stop them from dealing arms to Syria.  Therefore, in the simple terms of economics, because Rosoboronexport is making profit, there is no incentive to stop. Many countries continue their business with Rosoboronexport despite pleadings from  the Human Rights Act for an arms embargo on Syria. It is disappointing that even the United States, who prides itself in it’s value for human rights, demeans this act by putting it’s pertinent military concerns over the safety of the Syrian people. The US department of defense refused to reconsider a planned $375 million purchase of 21 helicopters for use in Afghanistan. The explanation of the US Undersecretary for James Miller was that the deal was “’critical’ to US interests…even though he is aware that ‘Rosoboronexport continues to supple weapons and ammunition to the Assad regime’ and that ‘there is evidence that some of these arms are being used by Syrian forces against Syria’s civilian population’”. This response is quite disappointing from the United States especially when other countries often look to the US to set a standard in these types of issues. The fact that the US, and other countries, will not help simply by swapping to companies that don’t have dealings with Syria exemplifies the fact that our governments are more selfish and political than we would like to think. It seems that countries only help other countries when it is convenient to them and not when it is really necessary – and intervention in Syria is necessary. Rosoboronexport responded similarly to the US in reference to the calling of an arms embargo on Syria. Their response was closely along the lines of – if you want us to stop, you’ll have to MAKE us. They also dodged questions concerning trade with Syria by stating that this issue was more of the Russian government’s concern than theirs. We need to hold businesses responsible for their actions as well as governments. The government should not be the only agency that cares for human rights - and it is already lacking in this. Governments need to act and stop this cycle of inaction and shifted blame. After WWII when people said, “Never again.” Did they mean this? Or did they simply hope that people had learned their lesson and hoped another incident would not come up in the future? I think it is probably a bit of both. However, people need to start acting instead of turning a blind eye.

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