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The Meaninglessness Of War

Aleppo's Old City - December 2016

Story by Jan Oberg March 24th, 2017

The meaningslessness of war

Imagine... that there was no arms trade to places where there were ongoing conflicts. Or, imagine a gigantic magnet that could suck up all weapons in the Middle East - and elsewhere.

What would people who conflict have to do then? They would have to dialogue, talk, negotiate - and find creative solutions to their problems, use their brains and humanity and - eventually - build peace together.

It's a solid law of sociology that conflicts in which violence has been introduced is way more difficult to solve than conflicts in which the parties have not used violence against each other.

If you do not believe in any of such idealistic - unrealistic - thinking/dreaming, I suggest you travel to such a zone after war has raged. I've seen Sarajevo, Knin, Mostar, Vukovar, South Ossetia, Abkhazia. I can now add Aleppo in Syria.

I know that peace by peaceful means is more realistic and of higher quality than peace by violent means.

As Gandhi said - "the means are the goals-in-the-making". Violent means do not produce nonviolence.

One reason there is anyhow such much war is that people lack alternative thinking and civilian tools for conflict-resolution - governments in particular. We live in a world society in which the military is given almost US$ 2000 billion and the UN - for all it does - 30.

Another is that there exists what I call MIMAC - the Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex - in which small elites outside democratic control have vested interests in profiterring from war and destruction. That is, from other peoples' suffering and death.

A third reason is fear - when people fear they can do anything. Fear is much more important in explaining violence than evil - which explains nothing.

I share these photos because I was shocked by what I saw in mid-December 2016 when Aleppo was liberated from 4,5 years of occupation by Western backed RIOTs - Rebels, Insurgents, Opposition and Terrorists, most of the latter.

More about the battle for Aleppo which has also been called Syria's Stalingrad here.

These photos, together with the other photo series, illustrate the utter meaninglessness of war.

No side has gained anything. All sides have lost. History has lost. The future has lost. Over 30.000 inhabitants of Aleppo are dead. Lives extinguished and living made inhumanly difficult for generations ahead.

The only thing that has been achieved or created is destruction. And what hasn't been destroyed has been looted and the profits from that converted to weapons that have created more destruction...

It's a kind of war that lacks any rational motive, or rationale, except that violence begets violence.

We should ask: What did those who occupied this place want to achieve? A better society? Better economy? More faithful people? Freedom from al-Assad's and Syria's government control? And independent state? What?

Whatever it may have been, it wasn't achieved. The only thing that was achieved was the destruction you see in these pictures.

I will not give up the belief that we can learn from the horrors and pains of wars to deal more intelligently with our conflicts.

That we can learn to hate violence and war, not each other. And thus to reduce and, later, abolish wars.

That we can learn to distance ourselves from all violence and side with peace - instead of siding with this or that violence-obsessed party in conflicts and legitimise that side's onslaught on "the others".

We must create a tectonic shift in the paradigm of international politics. ASAP. Hashtag #keepfocusonaleppo

If not, one day the rest will be silence.

NEW: "The Meaninglessness Of War" #keepfocusonaleppo The 6th photoseries from Eastern Aleppo, Syria - published on March...

Posted by Jan Oberg on Thursday, 23 March 2017

The Old Mosque in Aleppo

We start out with the Great Umayyad Mosque in Aleppo, the building of which began around the year 715. It's a UNESCO World Heritage site - as is the entire Ancient City of Aleppo.

And Aleppo is a cultural hub with a long history, situated as it was on the old Silk Road. It's beauty beyond words.

On 13 October 2012 the mosque was very seriously and systematically damaged during clashes between the armed groups of the Free Syrian Army - termed 'moderate' by the West - and the Syrian Army forces. President Bashar al-Assad issued a presidential decree to form a committee to repair the mosque by the end of 2013.

According to Wikipedia Jabhat al-Nushra and other Islamist groups argue that the destruction - particularly of the famous unique minaret tower - was done by the Syrian government.

That is unlikely to be true since it had been renovated (like the citadel, see below) just a few years earlier. On this link you also find images of what this immensely beautiful mosque looked like before.

© Jan Oberg 2017. All rights reserved to these images. Under no circumstances must any of them be reprinted or reposted online without my written consent. Click on each image to enlarge it. Hashtag #keepfocusonaleppo


The Citadel of Aleppo

The Citadel dates back at least to the middle of the 3rd millennium BC, it's believed to be one of the oldest castles in the world. It's a UNESCO World Heritage site. Wikipedia offers many images of what it looked like before this civil-international war.

© Jan Oberg 2017. All rights reserved to these images. Under no circumstances must any of them be reprinted or reposted online without my written consent. Click on each image to enlarge it. Hashtag #keepfocusonaleppo


Other parts of Aleppo's old city

Due to security concerns time to walk around the Old City was limited and it was a grey, rainy afternoon. But I managed to shoot a few locations such as a small church, the souk - bazaar - the narrow lanes and some magnificent facades.

Note how systematic every wall has been sprayed with bullets. It's been building-to-building fighting with skeleton walls standing behind - much more so than aerial bombardments that you've read so much about. They are now memorials to the meaninglessness.

Here an example of "before" and "after" photos of Aleppo, heartbreaking as they are. Hashtag #keepfocusonaleppo


The area close to the old city and the citadel


The photos and The Transnational foundation

These photos, copyright and The Transnational Foundation

Many of the images here are snapshot-like. They are shot either with my Nikon D7000 or my iPhone 6S. They are taken under very difficult circumstances, no time permitting the search for the perfect angle or focus; some are "drive-by" photos shot out of the car window. But they have all been processed and improved upon my return from Syria.

© Jan Oberg 2017. All rights reserved to these images. Under no circumstances must any of them be reprinted or reposted online without my written consent. Click on each image to enlarge it.


Abolish war - it's meaningless

In summary, imagine that there had been no governments and arms traders who had made this possible. It is true that the one who aims and kills should be prosecuted. But why not those who made it possible for them to do so?

A soldier or terrorist may have a motivation, even an ideal. The merchants of death have no ideals, no ethics. Only greed. Profit.

We work to help end this our civilisation's Disease # 1. We believe that if we abolished war as a socially acceptable institution, the world would be a much better place for all.

Tax-paying citizens would stop contributing to killing and destruction. Humanity would learn to conflict in civilised manners.

It's eminently possible if just the above-mentioned MIMAC - and other Deep State elements - would be brought under democratic control.

We must work for a tectonic shift in the paradigm of international politics. ASAP.

Hashtag #keepfocusonaleppo

Help the Transnational Foundation

If you liked this vision and this photo story, follow new posts about Syria (and other matters) and the ongoing debate on Facebook and TFF's blog as well as Jan Oberg's blog.

And please support the foundation's continued and independent conflict analytical and peace-promoting work with and in Syria.

Thanks a lot! And thank you for visiting. And do find ways to help the innocent victims of war in Aleppo and the rest of Syria.

You may share the url of this link - - just copy it and paste it where you want people to see it.

That's a small deed to help bring about peace.

I end with a photo painting from Aleppo, the beautiful historic city situated at the old Silk Road. May it once again come alive and be a meeting point for culture, trade and peaceful exchanges...

Footnote: All rights reserved. © Jan Oberg 2017. No reproduction, re-print or other re-use without prior contact with me. Hashtag #keepfocusonaleppo
Aleppo, Syria