Syria won’t be another Iraq – but it’s already another Afghanistan

“Lay down your arms, fight with the pen.”

“Lay down your arms, fight with the pen.”

Take a lesson from Afghanistan: the only way to end the bloodshed in Syria is to stop the flow of weapons to both sides.

The public debate over whether to strike Syria is a welcome change from the media cheerleading that led up to the Iraq War.

But it is also missing the point.

Our intervention began long before the debate on a military strike. Along with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, we have already thrown our lot in with the rebels. We are providing them with aid, intelligence, training, and arms. In the middle, Israel slowly pushes from behind to keep the bloodbath going. On the other side, Russia (and allegedly Iran and China) are providing Assad’s regime with the same support.

Welcome to Cold War politics in the 21st century.

Americans have been told we have two choices: help Syrians with our bombs or leave them to die on the killing fields. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Foreign intervention has driven the bloodletting so far. More arms — let alone air strikes — will not bring peace for the Syrian people. (And it will not help us make amends for helping overthrow Syria’s last democratically elected leader in 1949, either.)

We must demand a third choice: strike a deal with Russia not only about the chemical weapons, but about all weapons. Let’s end the flow of ammunition and bring each party — and their foreign backers — to the negotiating table. The diplomatic bargain may not be perfect for anyone. But it will involve far less death for everyone.

We need only to look to Afghanistan to imagine the grim alternative of growing extremism, a fractured society, and an endless war.

My parents fled from Afghanistan to the U.S. in 1980 as refugees, finally settling in Seattle in 1990. I cannot speak from my own experience, but I when I visited in 2012, I witnessed the hopeless, empty gazes of Afghan people — some in my own family — caught in the crossfire of a proxy war not unlike what is unfolding in Syria today. I cannot bear to watch an encore in Syria.

Read more on the Seattle Globalist here.

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