It is a proven scientific fact that human beings are pre-disposed psychologically to believe they are more central to the action than they actually are.
I wonder if this reveals itself in the phrase “How could we let this happen in Aleppo”?
Who “let it happen”, exactly?
The last time I looked China had vastly more resources, military and financially, than, say, the UK and France combined. Did China let it happen?
The last time I looked the United Arab Emirates, with a per capita income higher than Western Europe’s and enough to build wild buildings, roads and ports, was considerably nearer Syria than any of us. Did the United Arab Emirates let it happen?
Is there, in fact, something fundamentally colonial about the notion that the West “lets these things happen”?
It seems rather more likely that a vicious sectarian war, stoked by local hard men and by Russia (whose interest is to create a refugee crisis to destabilise the EU further so that it can maintain and even extend its westward influence having felt humiliated by the speed of NATO and EU expansion after the Cold War), is responsible for what happened.
It seems unpalatable to us in the West, perhaps, that a mass genocide can happen and there is nothing we can do about it. This is perhaps even more unpalatable in the social media era. But just because something is unpalatable does not make it untrue.
It is many of those who opposed UK intervention in Syria (to be clear, I was one) who are now in the “Something should have been done [by us]” brigade. That is understandable, given the scale of the human suffering. But what “should have been done”, precisely?
To put this more clearly, in the context of the consequences of the Iraq War and Afghanistan intervention, let us pose the simple question: what exactly could the UK and Ireland reasonably have done to prevent the horror?
Or is it just possible it wasn’t theirs to prevent?