By: Lindsey Doyle
At Ambassador Rick Barton’s book launch at the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS) for Peace Works, he was asked how to make the American public care about peacebuilding. Barton replied, saying:
Regardless of the rising death tolls to over 500,000 lives lost, the American public’s attention toward Syria has remained relatively low throughout the conflict. However, attention spiked at two key moments: when President Obama “drew a line in the sand” demanding during Congressional recess that representatives return to DC and work on this issue, and again when the photo of Alan Kurdi, Syrian child awash on the shore of Turkey went viral.
These sentiments were echoed at the 2018 Stockholm Forum on Peace and Development hosted by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
One civil society leader said, “We incorrectly assumed that if people have knowledge, they will care and act. This is no longer true. Words such as ‘genocide’ and ‘terror’ are now just throw-away terms.”
This effect is widespread.