“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
- George Santayana
It's sobering to realize that the Bush administration's being caught flat footed by 9/11 despite very clear warnings which were unheeded and then seeing how that administration used 9/11 as a pretext to go to war has literally changed the world. The chaos in the Middle East and now in Europe is directly related to the incompetence, stupidity and war mongering the "Bush boys" indulged in guided by their hubris and historical ignorance.
Lest one forget, the conditions that created this toxic geo-political mess were a creature of British Colonialism begun in the reign of Queen Victoria and then Winston Churchill. It's ironic that Queen Elizabeth has now served longer than Victoria and under her auspices the British Empire was dismantled. Given the contemporary circumstances of the conditions in the Middle East and Africa - in retrospect history might rate Victoria as the better of the two monarchs.
Commentators like Thomas Friedman and Nickolas Krisfof see little hope in solving the chaos in the Middle East and North Africa. In the pre-9/11 world tability was achieved by divide and rule tactics of European colonialism, by mapping administrative fiefdoms without regard to historic ethnic or religions lines followed by iron fisted authoritarians who took control after so-called independence. The vast expanses of the Middle East and Africa has morphed into a classic example of a Hobbesian state of nature.
Some argue if the US used air power to establish no fly zones over Syria at least we could limit the collateral damage to civilians. While this worked in Kurdish Iraq early on, under the current military conditions of multiple militias it would increase incentives of ground action by all sides giving the jihadists even more power. Russia would view this as a provocative act making a regional issue intro a global confrontation between the US and Russia involving surrogate states - Turkey, Syria, Iran and ultimately Israel.
There are no military solutions to the chaos in the Middle East. That's why humanitarian solutions offer the only hope - increasing refugee aid in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. UN cutbacks of this aid is unconscionable, especially for Syria's rich neighbor Saudi Arabia. The other option is taking place without any coherent plan - the mass movement of refugees from this beleaguered region into Europe. The Euros need to get their act together or face an untenable escalation of human misery with unknown consequences.
Sometimes geo-political crises have no short term solutions as Europe found in it's Thirty Years War in the 17th century. Sometimes the forest fire has to burn itself out. But what we can do is ameliorate the human costs by providing sustainable community development funding on the ground turning refugee camps into sustainable communities and in extending asylym to victims of Asad's brutality, ISIS's scorched earth strategy and to jihadists in places such as Yemen, Somalia, Libya et al.
It's time to make lemonade out of the lemons of what Rami G. Khouri terms our "common vocabulary of violence."