Archive for August, 2013

The worst…

Posted in Human Rights Abuses, Middle East, War and Peace, WTF? with tags , on August 29, 2013 by Black Pumpkin

You probably shouldn’t watch this.  You will wish you hadn’t if you do.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-23892594

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Anti-intervention from the Daily Kos

Posted in Middle East, War and Peace with tags , on August 29, 2013 by Black Pumpkin

Here’s another take from the Daily Kos.  To me, this is the best argument against intervention that I’ve seen so far.

Foreign Affairs tweet (@ForeignAffairs)

Posted in Middle East, War and Peace with tags , , on August 29, 2013 by Black Pumpkin

If its actual goal was to protect civilians, the West would have intervened in Syria long ago.

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/139884/charli-carpenter/responsibility-to-protect-or-to-punish?cid=soc-twitter-in-snapshots-responsibility_to_protect_or_to_punish-082913

Having it both ways?

Posted in Middle East, War and Peace with tags , on August 29, 2013 by Black Pumpkin

The more I think about the situation in Syria the less comfortable I feel with my conclusion that we should bomb them.  Honestly, I was never comfortable with that stance, but sometimes you just have to say what you think.  And I think it is very frustrating to see someone like Assad kill thousands of people with impunity.  I am talking about the wider war and not just the chemical attack.  But at the same time, I know that the US should not act as the world’s police.

I have never been a fan of humanitarian intervention.  It seems crazy to think that if we start bombing someone it will end up helping them instead of making the situation worse.  And yet, when I look at the world today (and over the years) it seems like there have been so many incidents when two groups were killing each other and it is just tragic that someone didn’t step in to do something.

What I am not doing is suggesting that we act simply because Barack Obama (more specifically, a Democrat) is in the White House as some might suggest.  At the same time, there are some out there that are making a fairly good case for doing nothing in Syria.

I really don’t like the idea of doing nothing in Syria.  But, at the same time, I have been opposed to intervention up until now.  To me, the use of chemical weapons is a game changer.  If I had more confidence in the International Criminal Court or something similar, then I would likely be more willing to let Assad continue until he could be prosecuted, but I just don’t see that as being a viable option.  Especially when it is likely that thousands more will die before he ever sees a court room or a jail cell (if he ever does).

There may be no good options in Syria (as Matt Yglesias points out above) but doing nothing to help the Syrian people (especially the civilians) seems like a particularly troubling one.

“I have a dream” 50 years on

Posted in Domestic on August 28, 2013 by Black Pumpkin

Fifty years ago today, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I have a dream” speech in the March on Washington. So there will be a lot of talk about race and the progress we’ve made. And those are things that we should certainly talk about because only through education can we make true progress.

I was not alive 50 years ago, so I did not hear the speech live. But I have read it many times and I have often tried to imagine what it must have been like to be there listening to Dr. King speak after all the other speakers, and just being surrounded by all those people. It must have been a momentous feeling.

I used to think I was born in the wrong era. I wanted to be able to protest in the streets against racism and the Vietnam War. I wanted to be at Kent State or running with the Weather Underground. And this will sound even more ridiculous but I even wanted to be a Black Panther. I have been a radical leftist since I was a teenager. And so when I would think about Dr. King and his speeches, I have often thought that he didn’t go far enough. He just wants us to sit-in, when we should be fighting back.

But as I get older, I think he did have the right message. Equality is simply that. No one is better than anyone else. No one should get any more than anyone else. We should all be treated the same.

And while many claim to want the same things as Dr. King, it has not been a steady march toward progress. We have had many fits and starts. The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1965. And the first black president was elected in 2008. But the Supreme Court essentially defanged the Civil Rights Act earlier this year. And in between we have had the assassination of Malcolm X, Dr. King, Fred Hampton, and George Jackson, among others. And more recently we had the killings of Oscar Grant and Trayvon Martin.

Nowadays the police don’t turn their water cannons and dogs on protesters, and some will argue that we live in a post-racial society. But clearly we still have long way to go before we can say that the Dream of Dr. King has been reached.

Attack Syria? Unfortunately, Yes.

Posted in Middle East, War and Peace with tags on August 28, 2013 by Black Pumpkin

The Syrian civil war just went from bad to absolutely horrible. It is not enough that at least 100,000 people have been killed since the fighting began in March of 2011. It is not enough that roughly 2 million people are refugees or are internally displaced and half of them are children. Now we can add hundreds (if not thousands) of people being killed with some type of chemical weapon, more than likely by the Syrian government.

This is the sad state of affairs we find ourselves in today. Some might argue that while this situation is certainly horrible, that doesn’t make it one that the US needs to deal with. And being the good liberal that I am, I can certainly understand that position. While no one will accuse me of being a pacifist, I did oppose both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars even before they began. So I think that we need to think long and hard before we act militarily anywhere. Even when we risk very few American lives, I think it is important to weigh the consequences very carefully before we act with any kind of force.

So why am I now saying that we need to attack (yes, I said attack, because we can use any euphemism we like, but that is what we’re talking about here) Syria? To put it simply, there are certain actions that must not be allowed to stand, no matter who does them or where they happen. And the use of chemical weapons is one of those things. Others would be crimes against humanity such as genocide.

No country should have chemical, biological, or nuclear (CBN) weapons. In an ideal world, none of these would even exist. Of course, we don’t live in that fantasy world. So in the real world, those things exist and they exist in abundance. And try as we might to stop their proliferation (and we should certainly do that) we won’t be able to stop every country that wants to pursue those things. But what is much worse than simply possessing these types of weapons is the use of them. That is a line that must never be crossed. And if it is ever crossed, the punishments should be severe. Not only because the perpetrators need to be punished but because we need to send a very clear message to any and all other countries that actions like this are unacceptable.

It is widely accepted that killing people is wrong. It’s clear that it should be avoided unless it is absolutely necessary. And war is not a pleasant thing for anyone especially because those affected are likely not even doing the fighting. When it comes to CBN weapons, this is even truer. The risk of killing non-combatants increases exponentially when using CBN weapons. Guns and bombs can be unpredictable. But they are infinitely more predictable than CBN weapons.

The use of CBN weapons must never be allowed and much more than strongly worded condemnations must be the punishment when they are. So if the Syrian regime under Bashar Assad has used chemicals weapons in their ongoing civil war, we need to destroy not only those weapons but it seems necessary to kill him or capture and try him for crimes against humanity.

Unfortunately, I don’t think Syria will be a stable, peaceful place for some time to come, no matter what happens to Assad or his regime. But to let him continue with impunity would be much worse for Syria and the rest of the world.