Bruce Tretter believes there is something we can all do about Syria—stand by the UN and help it succeed.
Abraham Lincoln said it clearly only 150 years ago: “With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed.” That line has held true through history, and it sure applies to what we as a unified world choose to do about Syria – and our future.
Just look at what’s happened since the Syrians used chemical weapons on their own people on August 21st. International outrage continues to rise while opposition to a retaliatory strike has become nearly unanimous. Even here in the US, where the thought of going it alone is still on the table, the world’s public sentiment is echoed loudly by congressional support that diminishes by the day and public opinion that is in the distinct minority.
The word “crisis” in Chinese means both danger and opportunity. Yes, Syria is a crisis, and the danger for any one nation to go it alone would be having to deal with the consequences of both short and long-term disaster
That’s why right now, with the world’s attention so uniquely and fiercely focused, this is a great time for all of us to make sure that those who died so horribly did not die in vain.
How can we do that? By deliberately reinvigorating an international platform that already exists and making it relevant for all of us.
I’m talking about giving meaningful life to the United Nations—and I know that many of you will laugh. I’ve laughed myself.
But look at it in relationship to time. For a universe that’s 13.5 billion years old, an Earth that’s 4.5 billion years old, modern humanity that’s 200,000 years old, a Western calendar spans 2013 years, and a US nation that’s only 237 years old; our current 68-year-old UN is just a baby. And like any infant we bring to life, we—all of us—need to give the UN the right nourishment and guidance to give it the best possible opportunity to succeed. And there’s no doubt that nourishment and guidance has to include an internationally acceptable organizational restructuring that corresponds with current and future global needs.
Now look into the future. Imagine if we gave that young institution some teeth and empowered it to real relevancy. Think of the manpower, public skepticism and financial resource spending avoidance that could be achieved if individual countries didn’t feel obligated to go it alone and police a piece of the world that didn’t fit their uniquely specific “world view”.
Back to Syria. Think of the incredible force that could be brought to bear on a nation that violated not just a “norm” but established international law with clearly stated enforcement consequences.
As I write this right now at noon, Sept. 10th, news is coming in that an internationally brokered settlement is at least being considered and is building momentum. Terrific! Hope is alive—though that still means we all need to maintain focus.
The bottom line is that this, like so many of our problems, is a man-made problem. That means it’s up to us—all of us—to lead, follow and use the power of public sentiment, as Abraham Lincoln recognized so brilliantly, to resolve it successfully.