The following is a statement released yesterday by New Hampshire Peace Action on the escalating conflict in Syria. From their mission statement, “The members of New Hampshire Peace Action envision a world committed to disarmament and peace, nonviolent conflict resolution, and respect for the rights and inherent worth of all people. We believe that authentic social change comes from the bottom up and we are committed to educating, organizing and advocating from the grassroots level.”
By John Lamperti (NH Peace Action 501c(4) board chair and National Peace Action Board Member), and Will Hopkins (Director, NH Peace Action, NH Peace Action Education Fund)
Especially since the Huala Massacre, there is increasing debate about how the US should react to violence against civilian populations in Syria. While there is no one obvious solution, many possible actions could make things worse. Peace Action believes that the physician’s maxim “First, do no harm” should be our country’s starting point.
Although at present the outcomes of the Arab Spring are unknown, many in the West view the uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa positively, as people taking control of their national destinies. The uprising in Egypt was successful with relatively little blood spilled, while elsewhere protests have been met by extreme violence. In those countries to which the U.S. government is unsympathetic, especially Libya and Syria, US media have extensively covered civilian deaths and violence. The peace movement must hold to a single standard and equally denounce atrocities in US “allies” that allow US bases and access to their resources.
In its turn, the Syrian regime headed by Bashar Al-Assad has used tactics up to and including the mass murder of civilian populations to put down the uprisings. We in the peace movement should condemn these actions in the harshest of terms.
At the same time, we insist that military intervention by the US is not acceptable. Such interventions are widely seen as imperialistic opportunism rather than a hand offered in the name of justice. It may appear callous to hold back in the face of great injustice, but this revolution must belong to the Syrians for it to lay the foundation for a new and better nation.
We in the peace movement must remember our commitment to nonviolent change. We should resist the pressure toward military “solutions,” and seek for all possible ways to aid the victims of war and to find negotiated agreements to end the violence. Our goals must be to empower the people of Syria to build a better nation – and to build a better nation here at home.