Russian forces were successfully pulled into the Syrian Civil War in September of 2015 by the Assad regime, which desperately needed brute Russian force to repel rebel attacks. Instead of seizing upon the opportunity to broker a peace agreement between rival political factions and transition away from the no-longer viable Assad regime, Russian President Vladimir Putin has continually bolstered his efforts to prop up the Assad regime. Not only has Putin overcommitted Russian forces to intervene in Syria’s domestic affairs, he has imperiled Russia’s broader national security interests by transforming the conflict into a multilayered proxy war.
Although civil discontent against the unresponsive governance of Syria and the Assad regime’s violent crackdown on dissenters sparked the Syrian Civil War, the conflict has long been fueled by external interference on behalf of regional revivals that hope to further their own agendas. Where Iran and Hezbollah attempted to save the Assad regime from a strong rebellion at the onset of the conflict, the opponents of Assad responded by arming rebels. While it been widely been painted as proxy war between the US and Russia, as well as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the Syrian Civil War is now largely a proxy war between former-Assad friend Turkey and Russia.
Politics is dominated by self-serving special interest agendas, mutually destructive rivalries, distracting propaganda, and extreme polarization. Politics is supposed to help facilitate governance and public policy by improving communication between the governed and their leadership. Regrettably, all the nastiness of politics now does more to sabotage public policy, undermine trust in civil society, and divide people along even the pettiest of issues than it does to help solve the problems we face as communities. While the effects of degenerative politics on domestic issues are experienced on a daily basis in all countries, the same kind of dysfunction impacts international affairs and efforts to solve international issues.
Looking at the Syrian Civil War as a prime example of international discord, a legacy of special interest-driven foreign policies, self-serving agendas, and conspiracy theories have divided the world over Syria. Instead of trying to address the root causes of the Syrian Civil War, i.e. Assad regime’s failure to properly govern, and the consequences, e.g. the destruction of Syria, the Syrian Refugee Crisis, the Islamic State threat, the focus is on whose agenda is served by the removal of Assad and whose agenda is served by the survival of the Assad regime. Thanks to an often-disastrous legacy of self-serving European, American, and Soviet intervention in the domestic affairs of weaker nations, international efforts to address serious issues are, once again, being undermined by international rivalries and conspiracy theories.
The Columbian-FARC Peace Accord offers both hope and despair to those endangered by conflicts like the Syrian Civil War and numerous others. Negotiated over the course of four long years with the aid of US and European partners, after more than five decades of armed rebellion, the peace deal exemplifies how the International Community can address insurgent conflicts, yet the longevity of the war also reveals a bleak future for those caught in war-torn regions. It is, however, important to recognize these long-waged wars are perpetuated by a failure of governments and warring factions to address the interests of the conflicting parties. Only when this is done can a conflict be resolved.
Although the Syrian Civil War has captured the attention of the international media and world leaders, the violent struggle between rivals India and Pakistan, which were once parts of the same country, over Jammu and Kashmir is far more devastating and far more threatening to the world. Like the Syrian Civil War and the Columbian Conflict with FARC, terrorism and military threats have arisen due to a lack of peace and stability. The human rights and basic needs of civilians have also been swept aside for the sake of war. Where the threat of terrorism should unite the Indians and Pakistanis in their pursuit of security and stability, growing tensions have compelled Indian and Pakistani leadership to lash out at each other by accusing their revivals of supporting terrorism.
The Syrian Civil War has driven world leaders to a new level of frustration with the collapse of a September ceasefire agreement based on increased US-Russian military cooperation. Although allies of Assad and allies of moderate rebels blame the failure on their enemies, the unfortunate reality is that internationally brokered ceasefires in Syria are doomed to failure. The problem is international interests in the Syrian Civil War revolve around the global terrorist threat presented by the Islamic State, yet the Syrian Civil War is, first and foremost, a civil war. The Islamic State is simply a byproduct of civil strife that cannot be squelched, unless a new government, which is supported by the principle conflicting factions, can be formed.
Because Russian-aligned forces support the Assad regime and US-aligned forces support the removal of the Assad regime, the two sides have two conflicting objectives that must be resolved before security threats like the Islamic State can be become a top priority. Looking back on the Iraq War, critics of the US-led effort often focused on the sectarian violence that continues to plague the Middle Eastern country to this day. US victory against terrorists and insurgents could not be achieved in Iraq, because Iraq was experiencing a civil war that had to be settled internally over a period of years to decades. External intervention was seen as ineffective and, potentially, a means of perpetuating the conflict. In the heat of the Iraq War, however, total victory was deemed indispensible, even though it was unachievable. The same is true in Syria.
EpiPens save lives by instantly delivering a preloaded dose of epinephrine to those suffering from a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. Awareness about the dangers of anaphylaxis and the importance of treating severe allergic reactions as quickly as possible can also help save lives by increasing access to devices like EpiPens. A $600 plus price tag for a double pack of EpiPens, however, quickly erases the health benefits of such marketing strategies by restricting access based on cost. Experiencing a 500% increase in price since 2007 under new owner Maylan, the EpiPen Controversy epitomizes the economic struggle to provide for human needs and contain the human impulse to seek excess.
Although an EpiPen contains approximately $1 worth of epinephrine, Maylan CEO Heather Bresch has justified a $100 profit per set as reasonable. She has also justified the need to invest up to $105 per EpiPen set into “awareness” marketing. Thanks to Maylan’s “awareness” marketing, as well as discounts and giveaways, schools in most States stock EpiPens, which expire after 6 to 12 months with few viable alternatives available. Maylan is also pushing for legislation to force airlines to stock EpiPens. To boot, Maylan is lobbying Congress and the health insurance industry to eliminate co-pays for EpiPens in order to hide the extreme cost of EpiPens, thereby using government policy and insurance companies to short-circuit cost-cutting market forces.
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