The Price Tag

Iranian women flash a heart sign during celebration in northern Tehran on 14 July 2015.
Iranian women flash a heart sign during celebration in northern Tehran on 14 July 2015.

What’s happening to Syria, and not simply in Syria, has been described by UN officials as the worst humanitarian disaster since WWII. In regional terms, this is also the worst disaster since the Palestinian Nakba, irrespective of how one allots blame for that one.

What’s happening to Syria has also been intimately linked to the negotiations that paved the way to the deal with Iran over its nuclear program. The linkage has not only not been denied, either by American and Iranian officials, it is often the subject of boasting and self-congratulations. Just read the recent declarations by Sadegh Zibakalam, Iran’s “preeminent public intellectual,” whose triumphalist advice to Iranian officials is to avoid dealing with triumphalist bravado with the defeated Saudi.

Because that’s how Iran’s perceived the situation in Syria: part of a battle with Saudi, a payback for their support of Iraq during the First Gulf War. As for the Syrian people, who paid with their blood and dashed hopes, not to mention broken country, for the deal, they seem to be irrelevant to this whole thing somehow, the ants that were crushed as the troops marched on.

How can a deal with such a horrendous price-tag lead to a better regional order, not to mention a better world, when the horrendous price-tag itself is deemed, as indeed it was, instrumental in reaching the deal?

Why would anyone give up the perceived instruments of their triumph salvation? And how can salvation that demands such an exorbitant amoral price be salvation? Are we being saved from pour own sense of decency and humanity here?

What has purposefully and deliberately been achieved at such a price is neither triumph nor salvation, but ignominy. This might be a triumph for the practitioner of amoral politics, but it is a defeat of the human spirit, and a further devaluation of our very humanity.