Foreign Policy Blogs

Seven Pictures About Syria: Casualties, Interventions and Questions

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Two years on nearly 93,000 people are dead in Syria, victims of the civil war there, victims of the Assad regime’s devastating military action against the Syrian rebels.  65oo of the dead in that partial list of casualties are, were, children; 1300 of those are, were, five years old or younger. That list, as compiled by the UN Human Rights Office, is an underestimate: only those definitively identified by full name and place and time of death were included.  Many more died nameless, placeless.

And the U.S. is now openly readying to intervene in Syria after accepting the argument that the Assad regime has employed chemical weapons against the Syrian rebels. President Obama’s red line for intervention or at least military aid has been met and crossed.  Now we wait not knowing what to do until the administration develops its strategy and implements it. And then we wait not knowing what to do for whatever happens consequent to all that.

But what does intervention mean anyway?  We might ask of ourselves, of our officials-certainly the Obama administration is asking itself just that question. Do we draw up a no-fly zone? That will involve air support and combat contact. No boots on the ground after two official wars, and a set of unofficial ones. No boots, no soldiers in Syria- that’s for certain. But is it?

We know that there’s more devastation to come in Syria. The regime, hand-in-hand with Hezbollah, is taking over more territory from the rebels. Things might get much worse for the rebels before they get any better; if they get any better. We’d do well to ask: Is it too late to intervene, even if soon we determine what intervention means?

There aren’t enough pictures, here, or elsewhere to tell us what’s going on Syria. These pictures certainly won’t help; at best they stand witness for tragedy that could have been averted. These pictures are shots and signs from our immediate past. And they were all unheard and unread.






Faheem Haider
Faheem Haider

Faheem Haider is a political analyst, writer and artist. He holds advanced research degrees in political economy, political theory and the political economy of development from the London School of Economics and Political Science and New York University. He also studied political psychology at Columbia University. During long stints away from his beloved Washington Square Park, he studied peace and conflict resolution and French history and European politics at the American University in Washington DC and the University of Paris, respectively.

Faheem has research expertise in democratic theory and the political economy of democracy in South Asia. In whatever time he has to spare, Faheem paints, writes, and edits his own blog on the photographic image and its relationship to the political narrative of fascist, liberal and progressivist art.

That work and associated writing can be found at the following link:

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