The third anniversary of the outbreak of the Syrian uprising has been marked with powerful, creative new campaigns designed to stir the world’s conscience. Save the Children UK’s heart-wrenching video of the collapse of a young girl’s life into civil war has been viewed more than 25 million times. Banksy’s striking “#WithSyria” videofeaturing a young girl floating with a red balloon past Syria’s bombed-out landscape has attracted multiple celebrity endorsements. A group of fiercely dedicated Syrian activists has been reading 100,000 names of Syrian victims of war outside the White House, while vigils have been held in cities across the world.
The NGOs and activists behind these campaigns should have an easy case to make. There is no serious disagreement about the enormity of the suffering of the Syrian people through the last three years of war: an estimated 146,000 people dead, a million refugees and some 6.5 million people internally displaced, a nearly unbelievable 9.3 million others in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, cities reduced to rubble, a generation of children traumatized. The campaigns have creatively and powerfully used social media to refocus attention on these horrific realities. But this increased awareness isn’t likely to change American attitudes toward intervening in the Syrian conflict – at least not as long as intervention is defined in military terms.
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