Archive for Syria

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.

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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.

We Need a Global Police Force

Posted in Human Rights Abuses, International with tags , , on September 5, 2013 by Black Pumpkin

I’ve heard it said so many times now that is has become a cliché: The US is not the world’s police. OK, yes, that’s true. And it should probably remain that way. But doesn’t it seem like the world needs some policing. I am not going to argue that it should be at the hands of the US. But it seems to me that it should be someone.

Some will no doubt argue that this is the role of the UN. And perhaps in some ways that’s true. They do send monitors to elections or “peacekeepers” to ceasefires, but it seems like there should be a more robust police force in the world. Just imagine if the ICC had an actual police department with officers and detectives. And I’m not talking about “Crossing Lines” here. And believe it or not, I’m not trying to be flippant. I really do believe that the world needs some kind of global police force.

The unspoken truth is that the world is really anarchic (as an aside: I really hate that word. Not what it means or anything like that, but it is just such a weird word to say. I guess I am being a little flippant). The countries of the world do whatever the hell they want to. And it seems like they often get away with it. Do you want to make sure that everyone has a decent standard of living and gets free healthcare? Great, do it! Do you want everyone to worship you as a god and punish them with torture and famine if they don’t? OK, I guess you can do that too.

Sure, there are consequences to starving your people or building nuclear weapons. But they don’t seem harsh enough to deter those countries that want to go down that fucked-up road to do that. If I was to torture and kill my family, I wouldn’t be punished by not being able to go to certain stores. And that is essentially what we do to a country like North Korea, for example. We don’t trade with them. And we encourage others not to trade with them. But that doesn’t mean that no one trades with them. China seems to have no problem trading with them. So I guess even crazy murderous psychopaths get to shop at certain stores. That seems fair, right? Fuck no!

People that kill their own families should be punished. Dictators that kill their own people should be punished.

I don’t know if we will make the situation in Syria any better by bombing them. Even if the bombing is “precise” and there are no “boots on the ground.” But at the same time, looking the other way while someone murders their family seems like the wrong thing to do.

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.