The Face Of Our Younger Generation

Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, April 20

During one of my afternoon walks around London last week, I ran into a group of demonstrators standing outside of the U.S. Embassy who were holding banners and chanting in protest of the American-British-French military operation in Syria. One of the signs read: “America must stop killing Muslims.” I stopped to speak to the activists who were there and asked them whether they had also considered protesting in front of the Russian Embassy. They seemed taken aback, as they hadn’t even considered Russia’s crimes in Syria. Sadly, the face of these protesters is the face of our younger generation. It is a generation that views injustice as something that could only possibly be committed by Western governments. It blasts a pinpoint missile assault against chemical weapons facilities—which did not kill a single civilian—as a crime against humanity, while completely ignoring the atrocities committed by Russia around the world. These are individuals who said nothing when Russia invaded Crimea. They cared not when human rights activists were unlawfully detained in Moscow for undermining Putin’s regime. And they certainly did not take to the streets when Russia carpet-bombed Aleppo, killing hundreds of innocent civilians and injuring and displacing thousands of others. This is a generation that suffers from self-loathing, portraying Russia as a force fighting evil and the West as the ultimate nemesis. Some have even described this political environment as the “New Cold War,” but the truth of the matter is that we’re far from such a scenario. Despite its size and power, Russia cannot truly undermine the United States. Both its economic and military power lag significantly behind those of America. Its scientific and academic capabilities lag far behind those of the U.S. and Europe. In fact, Russia is only a “superpower” in its nuclear capability. The problem, as these protesters remind us, is legitimacy. While the Russian government crushes any dissent, Western democracies permit these kinds of demonstrations. Therefore, Russia can freely exercise its military power, even if limited in size. By contrast, the United States, despite its strength and capabilities, can barely project a fraction of its power. This is where Russia trumps the West. Until these protesters turn their attention to what matters most—that is, the true crimes being perpetrated across the globe today—we will continue to live in a world of misplaced political priorities. –Eyad Abu Shakra 

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