Archive for the Middle East Category

An important distinction

Posted in Human Rights Abuses, Middle East, War and Peace with tags , on September 26, 2013 by Black Pumpkin

In this short piece, Betcy Jose makes a very important distinction between condemning the use of chemical weapons and the intentional targeting of civilians.  I think it is a very important distinction to make.

Cautiously Optimistic

Posted in Middle East with tags , , on September 21, 2013 by Black Pumpkin

I will admit I am a pretty pessimistic guy.  In fact, I am often so pessimistic that when I have those rare optimistic moments, they are immediately followed by skepticism.  And that’s where I find myself now.  I am watching the developments in Syria and it seems like progress is being made.  There are hopeful signs and it seems like real change is possible.  Of course, with situations like this, things could take a turn for the worse at any moment.  So all of my optimism is very cautious.

And the same could be said about Iran today.  It seems like Iran is ready to negotiate with the US about its nuclear program.  In fact, there are a number of reasons to be hopeful about this.  According to Foreign Policy, about 20 reasons, with one important caveat.  And so again, I find myself thinking that this looks really good, not only for Iran and the US, but for the world.

I am certainly not holding my breath and thinking that everything will turn out rosy and smelling fresh, but I think sometimes, some optimism is warranted.  And, for now, I have cautious optimism about Syria and Iran.

Unfortunately, I am not at all optimistic about Iraq.  They are pretty fucked.

The beginning of the end?

Posted in Middle East, War and Peace with tags , , on September 16, 2013 by Black Pumpkin

So it looks like there may be a deal to let Syria give up in chemical weapons in order to avoid an  attack by the US.  Just a week or two ago it seemed like there were no good options left open to President Obama and then Secretary of State John Kerry makes an off-the-cuff remark that changes everything.  Usually gaffes don’t make much difference.  And when they do, it seems more like media hype than real issue.  But after Kerry made the remark about Assad giving up all his chemical weapons, the Russians jumped on the idea.  And it is a really good idea.  Of course, the devil is in the details.  And there are lots of questions that have yet to be answered.  There are also lots of problems that could still arise, so while this is certainly a welcome development, there is still a lot of work to be done.

Some questions that need to be answered:

How many chemicals weapons does Syria have?  How is the UN going to secure them all in the middle of a civil war?  Are both sides going to be willing to abide by a ceasefire in order for the UN to do their job?  Even if all the chemical weapons are found and taken under UN control, what happens to the Assad regime?  To the rebels?  To the war?

Also, here is the UN report on the use of chemical weapons on 21 Aug 2013.

OK, so there’s that…

Posted in Middle East, War and Peace, WTF? with tags , , , , on September 7, 2013 by Black Pumpkin

I can’t remember the first time I heard that we (the US government) knew about Iraq’s use of chemical weapons in the Iran-Iraq War that last from 1980-88.  But Foreign Policy has the CIA documents.  So I guess there is no question that this is true.  Which leads me to a somewhat obvious conclusion in another area of the Middle East.

We cannot go after Assad and his use of chemical weapons if we are going to blatantly disregard its use by other countries.  Believe it or not, we supported Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq War and so we just ignored his use of chemical weapons.  Which makes the invasion of Iraq in 2003 all the more hypocritical.  We really shouldn’t go down that road again.

Assad must be held to account for not only the civil war that he felt was necessary but his use of chemical weapons.  But it shouldn’t be the US that holds him to account for it.  He needs to be brought before the International Criminal Court or something similar.  I certainly don’t think that he should be allowed to get away with what he has done.  But, at the same time, the US is really in no position to punish him.

We really need to show some kind of consistency before we have any room to tell others what they can and cannot do.  The hypocrisy of the US government is really astounding.

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

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