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Government and the Public in Syria and Russia

February 26, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 188

I find it impossible not to be moved by the story of Syria today.

As I write this and, in all probability when you read it, there are people cowering in Syrian homes, waiting for explosive shells to come crashing into their lives. They are mostly ordinary men, women and children, they have no interest in politics; the will of government is decided elsewhere and the ordinary people simply want to live with their own concerns - without being maimed and murdered by their own government and Assad's army.

Like them, I have no power in government but, like you, I have the power of the Internet and my own mind. You can see why other nations stand by; it is always the ordinary people who suffer most in war, and if other nations give Assad's bullies a real enemy to fight there may be still more deaths. This is not to say nothing should be done, the United Nations specifically has means to limit actions like those of the president of Syria; but the hands of the U.N. Security Council have been tied by the veto of the governments of Russia and China.

The governments of Russia and China have histories of murdering their own people, on a horrific scale, but Russia now styles itself a democracy, there may already be an election result by the time you see this. Ahead of that election, for the Russian presidency, I have, in a very small way and from thousands of miles distance, been trying to move Russian public opinion.

The Russian people have good hearts, even sentimental, and they have no lust for mass murder; but they are even now not used to criticising governments or caring for people in foreign lands. They may not see that Putin's veto displays his utter contempt for the Rule of Law and the duty of any government to protect and not injure its own people; they may not even see his indifference to the terrible loss of life. Worst of all, they may not see how Putin could treat them should his government fall out of favour.

Let me report a success. Where my blogging has been able to reach it seems to have won the argument; albeit on a pitifully small scale. It takes a very great deal to move the vast inertia of the public mood and tradition, and I count it as a success that I have changed even one mind. If I have changed as many as a few minds this alone shows hope for the future. Think, if I alone can make even individual differences, what might be achieved if many people showed they care, through blogs and emails, letters and other means?

Public action is as old as the 'Pilgrimage of Grace' and is in the very nature of the Arab Spring. It was most of all public opinion which brought down the Soviet Union and made it possible to bring an end to the Cold War. It took real courage for the Polish shipyard workers to strike, or for Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin to stand on the tank which was sent to restore Communist tyranny. These people needed to trust that public opinion stood behind them, as indeed it did. Today there is the Internet; it rests in the hands of the public to show how we ordinary people value human life, and to show governments may no longer treat it with contempt.

In the expectation Putin will be president by the time you read this, it may seem harder to hold him to account, or, because of his and Chinese support for mass murder, to hold Assad and other tyrants to account. Remember, I was able to change the mind of at least one Russian; and so we, you and I, can change the minds of many.

Visit Mike on Gather: Mike is also the author of EDWARD, you can learn more about that, and many other links at

Source: EzineArticles
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