Danger of easy analysis


When the bloody civil war broke out in Syria, I, like many Canadians, was against the brutal regime and cheered those brave Syrian rebels. Then we received a strong message from the Syrian Orthodox Church, a member of the World Council of Churches. They wanted us to tone down the rhetoric in support of the rebels. I realized then how hazardous it was to make a hasty judgement about the situation you really have no in-depth knowledge of.

I learned since that majority of Syrians are Sunni Muslims. There are many minority groups like Kurds, Orthodox Christians, and Shia Muslims, etc. The current regime is a coalition of those minority ethnic and religious groups the father of the current dictator brought together to keep him in power. Meanwhile, among the rebels were ISIS, Jihadist Sunni. Even though it became clear that ISIS terrorists were a party in the rebel groups, the “West” was quick to reach a conclusion and threw their support to the rebels. The Syrian government called the conflict “fight against terrorism” because of the ISIS among the rebels. It resulted in consolidating Bashar al Assad’s hold on power with stronger Iranian and Russian presence. Many innocent people were caught in the middle and became refugees.

Hong Kong is a quagmire. The Western media try to tell us that it is a struggle between democracy and the Communist government, and men in black fighting demonstrators are agents of Beijing government. I don’t think it is that simple. Hong Kong was a British colony and has never been a democracy. I visited Hong Kong often during the late 1970’s while working for the World University Service at the International Office in Geneva Switzerland. My regular itinerary included two universities; the University of Hong Kong on the island and the Chinese University in Kowloon. The former was an English University with “Tea at the Senior Common Room.” Meanwhile the Chinese University was very much Chinese. I often needed an interpreter. Students were keen to learn Mandarin Chinese. They were preparing themselves for the return to the Chinese rule. Tension between two universities was high.

I firmly believe democracy is the best system existing today. But also I believe that it is foolhardy to assume that everybody agrees with me. Action based on simplistic analysis is dangerous in a complex situation.

I am worried about the situation in Hong Kong.

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