Newspaper reports about the conflict in Syria increasingly point to a likelihood: that certain strategic Syrian targets will be bombed by the US, with or without its allies. This is to punish Bashar Assad for having allegedly used chemical weapons against defenceless civilians. Horrible deed. The perpetrator deserves to be punished. If Assad personally ordered the killings, will the bombings target him personally? Most likely not. A large number of innocent bystanders will probably be killed. So who is punished by bombing? Is peace likely to result? The answers are, respectively, don’t know and probably not.
The International Peace Research Association profiles over 450 undergraduate, Master’s and Doctoral programs and concentrations in peace studies and conflict resolution spread over 40 countries and 38 U.S. states. The total expenditure on all these 450 programs can be estimated at US $ 4.5 billion annually. The Stockholm Institute for Peace Research (SIPRI), in its authoritative yearbook estimates that global military expenditure was US $ 1,753 billion in 2012, equivalent to 2.5 percent of global GDP. If these relative expenditures are taken as a proxy for the choice of war or negotiation to settle global conflicts, then the outlook for Syria is very grim indeed.
For further analysis and alternatives to the use of explosives as peacemakers, see Dr. John Galtung’s essay on a path to peace for Syria that appeared on al-Jazeera more than a year ago. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/04/201241785537516373.html