Syria Revolt Enters Second Year as World Stands Feckless

The Syrian uprising is a year old, and France 24 has a collage of videos chronicling these dramatic and bloody events.

The world community has failed Syria, just as it failed Rwanda and the Congo, though the human toll in Syria is a fraction of those killed in the African events. Russia and China have used their veto to block any effective United Nations Security Council resolution that might lead to regime change. India has also, unlike the Arab League, opposed any call for President Bashar al-Assad, the Butcher of Homs, to step down.

Those on the left and in the libertarian movement who stridently condemned Arab League and NATO intervention in Libya (which forestalled massacres like the one we just saw in the Baba Amr district of Homs) have been silent about al-Assad’s predations and clueless as to what to do practically. Perhaps they do not care if indigenous dictators massacre indigenous protesters, as long as there is no *gasp* international intervention.

The Baath one-party police state, dominated at the top by the minority Allawite Shiite sect, has deployed armor and artillery to bombard city quarters without regard to civilian casualties. Thousands of innocent civilians are dead at regime hands. Some 200,000 Syrians have had to flee their homes. While defectors from the military have formed a Free Syrian Army that has attacked and ambushed the regular army, these attacks have formed a minor part of the violence. Likewise, bombings by “al-Qaeda,” Sunni Muslim radicals, have been few and far between. Mostly, the violence has stemmed from government troops sniping at peaceful protesters. The protests have often been big, and they have been persistent, but they have predominated in medium-sized and smaller cities away from the capital of Damascus. They are unable by themselves to cause the regime to fall.

Many of the protests are economic, not ideological. In much of rural Syria, a persistent drought has deprived farmers and urban food distributors of enough water. The Baath Party, which back in the 1970s was very good at dams and irrigation works, has been unable to get the water flowing, either because the drought is too severe or because the party has become corrupt and inefficient. Likewise in many of the protesting cities, there are many fairly recent labor migrants from the countryside, whose hopes for urban jobs have been disappointed by the world economic crisis since 2008. Many of the demonstrations have been in working class districts of central cities, suffering most from high unemployment. To dismiss these civilian crowds of workers and farmers as “Salafis” and “al-Qaeda” is bad social science and just regime propaganda.

Much of the protest is also for basic human values like dignity. It is no fun to live in a police state, where you are monitored and can be arrested and tortured at will. Some of the impetus for the Syrian rebellion comes from this demand for basic dignity. The regime has promised reforms, including allowing other parties to run for office and a lighter hand by the secret police. But few analysts believe that the Baath Party will voluntarily share power or change its brutal ways.

US intelligence analysts believe that the uprising is unlikely to dislodge al-Assad any time soon. Syria has an army of some 330,000, with its upper echelons heavily Allawite and loyal to the regime. It has about 5,000 tanks.

The one plausible scenario is that the constant demonstrations inflict such damage on the economy that the business and middle classes in Damascus and Aleppo finally turn on al-Assad and force him out with big demonstrations in the capital. These classes, a mix of secular Sunni Muslims, Allawites, Christians and other minorities, however, are so far more afraid of what might come next than of persisting instability with the secular Baath Party at the helm. Many Syrians watched Iraq’s descent into civil war and long term instability after George W. Bush overthrew the Baath there, and don’t want a repeat in Syria.

Meanwhile, outsiders have been reduced to applying some ineffectual economic sanctions to top officials and speaking vaguely about delivering aid to the brutalized population.

Because of gridlock at the UN Security Council, and because of regional splits, the Syrian people are likely on their own. They began their uprising, they will have to finish it. Iran, Lebanon (especially Hizbullah) and Iraq are helping the Syrian regime. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan (and now Hamas) want al-Assad to step down. The regional powers balance and check one another, just as the global ones do.

The Israeli elite seems divided on whether it is better to keep the Baath or risk a new, perhaps Muslim Brotherhood government. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has been agitating for forceful intervention to overthrow the Baath Party, and has reached out to the Syrian National Council, which wants to supplant al-Assad. But it is hard to discern much follow-through or enthusiasm in other quarters of Israeli politics.

The Syrian crisis has divided the anti-Israeli rejectionist front. Sunni Hamas, representing most Palestinians of the Gaza Strip, has sided with the Sunni Muslim parties of the revolutionary states of Tunisia, Libya and Egypt (who support the Syrian uprising), departing Damascus and abandoning Syria’s Baath elite. The Shiite Hizbullah of south Lebanon, in contrast, has strongly supported al-Assad and is patrolling the Lebanon border with Syria to keep any help from going to Damascus.

This UN map gives a sense of the situation in Syria:

Syria Uprising

Click for large size map in pdf

It is described this way at the UN site:

“This map presents a situational update of reported protests and violent clashes in cities and towns across the Syrian Arab Republic as reported between 4 and 12March 2012, related to the flare-up of violence and the presence of Arab League observers. Also depicted are the cumulative numbers of reported deaths since March 2011 aggregated by Governorate, and Syrian refugee camps that have been opened along the border in Turkey and Lebanon. Further, the spatial distribution of the dominant ethnic/religious communities in the country has been included as background context to the larger social and political uprising occurring within the country.”

42 Responses

  1. Thanks for article. Raises question again of what is the world community and what does it want. It seems to me that Assad regime survival with brutish methods is in the interest of authoritarian regimes that are willing to be brutish: Russia and China along with Iran, Zimbabwe, others. I like to think that the World Community favors moral behavior, human rights, self-determination, but I wonder if that’s true and if, at the end, there is just the interest of states and regimes.

  2. “Russia and China have used their veto to block any effective United Nations Security Council resolution that might lead to regime change.”

    Perhaps because the US & UK continually take a mile when given an inch. UNSCR resolution 1441 was blatantly misused as an excuse for war. The Russians and Chinese then gave Obama a chance by supporting UNSCR resolution 1973, only to have Obama and co. blatantly call for regime change which was not authorised by the resolution.

    With US govt and corporate policy doing so much to flame conflict across the developing world, congress could easily pass some laws that would punish companies for their terrible behaviour at home and abroad. But instead congress does everything is can to protect their corporate allies and instead opt to bomb the foreign regimes that rub them the wrong way.

    “Perhaps they do not care if indigenous dictators massacre indigenous protesters, as long as there is no *gasp* international intervention.”

    For one, I am insulted that over numerous posts, you keep implying that those with differing political views to yourself don’t care about indigenous people. Surely you can accept that the people against intervention merely read the political and practical outcomes in a different way than you do? Perhaps those against foreign ‘humanitarian’ intervention are aware of how often that phrase is abused to start unnecessary wars and conflicts. Since WW2, how many US interventions have resulted in poor civilians making progress vs US interventions resulting in US dictated neo-liberal economic systems that only serve to exploit the poor? How did the US interventions work out for Latin America? Isn’t it funny that the Sth American region is doing better now that there is less US influence.

    • “Since WW2, how many US interventions have resulted in poor civilians making progress vs US interventions resulting in US dictated neo-liberal economic systems that only serve to exploit the poor?”

      U.S. interventions notwithstanding, it is precisely those countries in Latin America that have adopted neo-liberal (the currently fashionable term for free-market economics)policies that have been doing well. Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, and Peru have all been experiencing growth and have made a dent in their poverty levels as a result of their more-or-less free market approach.

      On the other hand, it is precisely those countries that have rejected the free market that are experiencing little or no economic growth. Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Venezuela all have little to show for their statist systems. Venezuela, of course, is somewhat an exception because it relies on its oil. But outside the oil sector, it has regressed.

      • I’m not quite sure how you can say “U.S. interventions notwithstanding”. US interventions saw nuns raped, priests murdered and the suppression of the peoples grass roots Liberation Theology movement. How many civilians were expendable in the fight against the ‘reds’?

        Also I think your argument about economics is only true if you look at state vs neo-liberal economics as polar opposites with no middle ground. Pinochet’s neo-liberal Chicago economics destroyed the economy. How did the IMF and WB prescription work out for Argentina? Brazil is now more independent from the US than it has been for a long time. Do you really want to bring up Peru to make your case? Reformer, Fujimori, is infamous for his corruption and human rights abuses. Neo-liberal doesn’t mean market orientated, it means gutting all public sector services and selling them off for nothing to local elites/western powers and then jacking up the prices outrageously. Neo-liberalism says there is no role for the state in providing basic/necessary services. Great for profit, bad for the average person.

      • Brazil rejected neoliberal ideology when it elected Lula. Argentina defaulted rather than endure the IMF/World Bank tyranny, and has since recovered. Chile has kids dying in the street protesting their GOP-dream privatized education system and we hardly have to talk about what’s wrong with Mexico.

        Your guys lost. It happened while we were too entagled in Iraq to interfere effectively, though that coup we backed in Venezuela was a good try. Stop pretending that what’s good for the lightest-skinned oligarchs who shop in Miami and send their kids to Vassar has any resemblance to the vast impoverishment visited on ordinary Latin Americans under the Friedmanite shock doctrine.

        • Lula actually fooled a lot of people, such as you SUPER390 (although from your post, you do not seem to realize it), by continuing the relatively free market established by President Cardoso. Brazil dispensed with a lot of restrictions to investment and welcomed foreign direct investment under Lula. As a result, Brazil’s economy has flourished.

          Relatively speaking, Mexico’s economy is better today because it has loosened some restrictions. The drug cartel problem is a separate issue.

          You have not addressed the question of why Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Venezuela (the oil sector excepted) are doing so poorly under their statist systems.

      • Of course there’s different, less rosy, less high-speed-pan views, even among those who are all in favor of the “neo-liberal” approach, like this “It’s maybe not as bad as one might think, even though the IMF interventions and race-to-the-bottom predatory ‘free-market capitalism’ have raised Cain, it could be worse” piece by Leslie Evans: link to international.ucla.edu

        And I personally find a lot of substance and wisdom in the observations of David Graeber. link to c-spanvideo.org , and his recent “Debt: The First 5,000 Years.” The Jackals are not only guys with guns and daggers and skills at overthrowing governments, vi et armis. They are also Banksters doing the knee-capping for the IMF and central and “private” banks

        Might one observe that maybe in a bubble, which many see inflating over those countries noted above, certain parts and classes of S. and C. America are “doing very well, thank you,” in Evans’ quizzical formulation, but how about that there rain forest “world resource” being converted to “efficient” slash-and-burn “agriculture” and “proper pasture” for McCattle, in an Enclosure of a Commons on a really grandiose scale? And it’s a good thing that all these external encouragements to follow the successful American path are making the world safe for 7,000 Marines and 40+ US warships to be “invited” to Army-less Costa Rica?

        “Precisely” seems a little broad-brush for such a pointilist canvas.

      • “what has your comment to do with whats happening in Syria?”

        I suggest you direct your question to SomeGuy, Fonzy. He is the one who used U.S. interventions in Latin America to support his argument against intervening in Syria. Having used the argument, it is certainly fair game to question its accuracy.

    • Have you read or run across “Debt: The First 5,000 Years,” by David Graeber? link to goodreads.com Lays it all out, and also writes a prescription for what is killing us. I wish there were Cliffnotes, but there’s not much fat in that fat volume.

      Interesting side note re Adam Smith: seems scholarship reveals that many, maybe most, of his “Wealth of Nations” and “Morality” insights and pronouncements were cadged from Persian (as in “Iranian”) source materials from a prior age. “Greed is very definitely BAD.”

      Maybe the reason the Kochs and Blankfeins and even Obama are all exercised about “Sharia law” and Islam is that the whole usury and slavery thing is seriously not allowed, and the social structures that make living in such a world possible are anathema to Kleptocapitalism and its religiosifiers.

    • Perhaps because the US & UK continually take a mile when given an inch.

      Yes, that must be it. That must explain why Vladimir Putin and the regime that repeatedly crushes Tibetan independence and domestic dissent are voting to protect their ally, Assad. Not because military bases or weapons markets, but because the mean old United States forced them to stand aside and allow the civilians of Homs to be massacred. I’m sure that they, like you, weep into their pillows every night over the fate of the Syrian people, but gosh darnit, whaddygonna do?

      Obviously, it’s only the corporately corporate United States (did I mention corporate?) that can ever justly be accused of acting in an immoral manner in the pursuit of its geopolitical interests. Moral exemplars like the governments of Russia and China would certainly never do anything like that, so whenever we find ourselves wondering why they’re behaving in a way that looks like callous, greedy coddling of a client state, what we should immediate do is start dragging up stale tropes about the United States.

      Because Lord knows, the United States is really the cause of everything the Russian and Chinese governments do. End of story.

      • Joe, those calling for intervention have the onus to prove their morality, not those who are preventing a foreign bombing campaign. You also completely ignore the 2 examples where China and Russia did not stop UN resolutions only to have the US/UK completely exploit them for their own ends, against international law.

        It’s funny, when someone points out the crimes the US has committed against developing nations, you somehow twist it to imply the same people don’t care about the people of developing nations. Heaven forbid we also mention corporate crimes, business is king, it is the reason for everything else and inherently moral.

        IMO all the big actors, US, UK, Russia & China are all led by swine. You don’t get that much power in the current world by being a good guy. I just think it’s incredibly asinine to take the US claims of morality at face value. In the case of Syria, it’s not the Chinese and Russians talking about a military intervention, so I don’t bother to point out their flaws, as they are not the ones making a moral case for bombing.

        • No, Some Guy, however much it might appeal to your self-regard, the onus to prove that Russia and China are motivated by self-interest does not fall on me. To any sane person, attributing the behavior of those regimes to amoral self-interest is an obvious default position, and it is those who wish to claim that they are actually just looking out for the well-being of the world who need to come up with some pretty good evidence.

          You give the game the away in your first five words: you’re going to believe anything, and disbelieve anything, based on its convenience in making the case you want to make about intervening in Syria.

          You might have noticed – might have, in some alternate reality, but didn’t in this one – that I didn’t write a word about the wisdom of intervention. I wrote about the motives of Vladimir Putin and the PRC government. For you to drag in the policy question and attribute a position to me shows just how determined you are to say anything, think anything, if it HELPS THE CAUSE.

          Congratulations. You are now defending Vladimir Putin as a moral exemplar, whose intent should be assumed to be pure and decent, and throwing poo and people who don’t take your George Bush-like naivete towards him as a given. Did you look into his eyes and see his soul too?

          IMO all the big actors, US, UK, Russia & China are all led by swine. Yeah, right, that’s why you decided it was so very vital to rush into the breach when someone dared question Russia and China’s intentions.

        • “In the case of Syria, it’s not the Chinese and Russians talking about a military intervention, so I don’t bother to point out their flaws, as they are not the ones making a moral case for bombing.”

          Of course you wouldn’t point out their flaws, SomeGuy, because the Russians and the Chinese are perfectly happy to allow their client, Assad, massacre his own citizens in order to safeguard the naval base in Syria (the Russians) and protect a fellow authoritarian (both). You flaunt your solipsistic moral superiority by criticizing the U.S.; yet you appear pleased with yourself to remain silent (let’s not point out their flaws!) while the Russians and Chinese run interference for their authoritarian brother as he commits mass murder. So much for moral superiority.

  3. What is the difference between anonymous undercover correspondent and the spy? How can we trust his info? But Aljazeera publishes rubbish like this, and it is typical for pr-rebel coverage of Syria: link to aljazeera.com

  4. If we substitute “Bahrain” for “Syria” and consequently “US” for Russia, etc, I could understand the underhanded swipe against people “not caring” about the oppressed population since we actually have a lot of leverage with this regime (being close ally and all).

    Perhaps now would be a good time for the policy elite to redesign foreign relations with the emerging powers away from a new cold war to a framework based on peace and mutual respect. Then we could perhaps have the conversation again about which types of intervention can have positive effects (after we have made every effort to consult the actual oppressed people about what they want us to do and not do).

    While we’re at it, actually supporting democratically elected governments over pliable dictators generally would express our caring more than a having bombs dropped on a country.

    btw the jury on the Libyan intervention is still out. And it is in for Kosovo/Serbia for anyone willing to look into a complicated history with an open mind. Those interventions show clearly how much the elite cares about minerals, control, and people if convenient.

    • If we substitute “Bahrain” for “Syria” and consequently “US” for Russia, etc

      …then we’re eliding the difference between a few dozens death a few tens of thousands of deaths in order to deflect attention away from a large scale crime against humanity.

  5. “Humanitarian” and internationalist intervention is just as much folly as the neocon variety. Since Wilson we have been intervening abroad to make the world safe for democracy, to fulfill some imaginary “responsibility to protect,” and almost always with dire results. If we have any dog in the Syrian fight, it is to protect the Syrian Christians. They support Assad.

    We have neither the stomach nor the resources to do what it takes to overthrow Assad, and we have no idea what will follow, other than that it will be bloody. After Iraq and Afghanistan, even Juan Cole hasn’t taken in the lesson–don’t fight a ground war in Asia.

  6. (Pragmatic) libertarian here. I largely supported the Libya action because there were seemingly obvious concrete steps intervention could take to prevent significant massacre.

    This is a question I legitimately hope you reply to: What specific actions can/should the international community take to turn the tide on the tragedy that is happening in Syria? Personally, I don’t see any great options and as you have pointed out, McCain’s plan to arm the protesters is probably a bad idea…I would like to see the world more aggressive on the diplomatic front, but I’m not optimistic much can be achieved through that channel.

    • I’m with you. The question of what is actually to be done by an intervening military was much more easily answered in Libya than in Syria.

      I hate this feeling of standing by helplessly, but I haven’t seen anyone explain, realistically, what we could accomplish with an intervention.

      I’m perfectly comfortable with the doctrine that a government gives up its right to complain about its sovereignty when it starts making the streets run with blood, but hope is not a plan.

  7. Sometimes things just doesn’t add up.

    We live in a world that US President and Israeli Government are threatening Iran with “all options” (which implies dropping nuclear bombs) because they suspect it may have the capability of becoming a threat to them.

    Then you are questioning why Syria, with support of China and Russia, is fighting with armed opposition inside its own country. It is not as if they Syrian army is fighting the non violant protestors or striking workers, or other such non violent actors.

    There is no question that Syrians have legitimate demands for political change, no question that to date Syria has been a one party dictatorship. But there is also no question in my mind, that Saudi/Qatar etc have hijacked the legitimate claim of Syrians for their own end.

    What ever happend to progressive support non violent movements?

  8. Is Syria or other similar states any more police states than the US is fast becoming? Perhaps it is best to let a civil war find its own resolution. Unfortunately US and U K have got their special forces already in Syria.
    I say let the middle east countries make their own way and let the West find other sources of energy.

    • Please provide your source for the observation that “unfortunately the US and UK have got their special forces already in Syria.” I have seen nothing to indicate such activity and would be interested how you have captured such information.

      • “I have seen nothing to indicate such activity” maybe this time, possibly, and nobody in Bill’s World can’t even say it unless one has at least three sources, one of which can’t be Wiki — pedia, or Leaks…

        Still operating a “listening post?”

        None so blind as those who will not see…

        • “None so blind as those who will not see…”

          Or those who make completely unsubstantiated allegations.

  9. Those who supported the Libyan intervention have been silent about the abuses that continue to be committed by some of the militias they backed. I’m referring to the reports by Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch. The care of many humanitarian interventionists seems to have arbitrary limits. I understand that the focus must be on the largest problems. But that’s no reason to entirely ignore abuses that occur on a smaller scale.

  10. The practicalities of doing much of anything, other than hand-wringing, are genuinely daunting and could make the debacle in Iraq look mild if anyone actually wants to consider the martial options.

    “Doing Something,” might best be to empower the people most motivated to do what it takes, and it really is their fight. There are already enough guns, and with defections an increasing amount of ability to use them coherently, to end the regime that is not going to respond positively to the people or otherwise go quietly.

    For the neocon take to defend against, listen to the smoothness of Elliot Abrams on Fareed Zakaria a few weeks ago:

    link to transcripts.cnn.com

    The policy he/they would advocate encourages total and complete anarchy by destroying Syria’s infrastructure, essentially as was done in Iraq. This would be in Israel’s best interests, in that even a friendly government/country can change its attitude overnite. With a failed state, however, you only have to defend against nuisance attacks.

    Creating limited no-fly zones might actually be possible for all the good they’d really do, if they were nuzzled up against the Turkey or the Mediterranean, where SAMs could provide cover. But then you’d have to worry about historical relations between Turkey/Syria, and the active intriguing of everyone from Saudi Arabia to Qatar to Iran, as well as Israel.

    Compounding the problem of safe-zones, you’ve got the artillery of a large and competent military that can lob shells 20+ miles. In the end, the Syrian military is the force is in a position to resolve this thing with any satisfaction, and at some point might, not unlike what happened in Egypt , although most probably with even less grace.

    As I understand it, their military is actually organized as a series of fiefdoms, and it’d take them coming together as a junta to put al-Assad out. And the Old Man created this structure specifically to prevent this happening. Then you get to the question of what next? The key is to empower the people’s political influence over the military, and ultimately let it be their problem to solve in their own way, as ugly and as drawn-out as that may be.

    The only thing “we” might practically do is empower the Syrian people, through safe havens adjacent to or outside the country, OR perhaps through active assistance in organizing, along with defensive tradecraft they could use to defend against what I’m assuming is a very competent mukhabarat. What might well be useful would be communications gear, along with other technical methods and resources, to keep the individuals alive and effective who might be able to work with the Syrian military to resolve things.

  11. I don’t see how this slaughter can end without intervention by NATO and Arab League air power. Begin by bombarding Damascus day and night with sonic booms for a few days to put the regime on notice that more will come if they don’t ceasefire, allow aid in, and begin discussions with opposition leaders. Most likely Assad will not respond to this. Then attack the Syrian air defense system, followed by attacking and destroying the air force, then attack command and control including the presidential palace. Attack tanks and artillery when they are in the open. All this would encourage the oppostion and accelerate defections by the Syrian forces. There would be collateral damage but opposition forces would surely prefer some loss of life this way rather than continue to be slaughtered by the superior Syrian forces.

    • But assuming Prof. Cole is correct that most of the damage is being done by snipers, what good is air power? Is an Iraq 2003 shock and awe campaign really going to be worth it if we can’t/won’t provide significant ground support to the Free Syrian Army? At that point, what are we in for and how many civilians will die. I don’t know much about the Syrian military, but my sense is in order to run an effective military campaign, we’d need to act more like in Iraq and less like in Libya.

      • I do have the strong impression that the snipers are backed up by tanks and artillery, which make attacking their positions extremely hazardess. Al Jazeera made a big point about the black market price of small arms and bullets being extremely high. It seems the Free Syrian Army FSA, is very short of weapons, and is almost totally lacking in anything heavy enough to take on tanks. All this suggests that slippery slope of arming them. [Note I'm not recommending this, however I think as the horror show grows more intolerable, we will get desparate enough that that will be the next step].

        I don’t see no fly zones being of much use, I have the impression the ground forces are the main issue. Taking them out, a la Libya I think is unlikely. No matter who comes out of top in this conflict, there are significant segments of the population that will be identified by the winners as having been on the wrong side. And in any severely bitter conflict, that does not bode well.

    • “The horror! The horror!”

      Reagan was going to send in the grunts to “do something” in Lebanon, and as usual the Brass screwed it all up nicely, for the best doctrinal reasons. “Mistakes were made,” Ronnie said, and “we” forgave him for bravely seeming to absorb “responsibility.” And then Sabra and Shatila… What “intervention” there? I don’t know how “stable” Lebanon and its parts are these days, or how powerful the vengeance drive in the culture is, but it sure seems like the people of Beirut, the “Paris of the East,” are doing sort of well again.

      Germans and French and English are, for the present, getting along — the people have enough recall and historical sense of the futility of war to see virtues in trading Blutwurst for Roquefort for Stilton. Conflicts have their arcs, and people seem over time to learn acceptance and accommodation, if you can keep the Great Game $hites out of the room. Millions of little daily trans- and inter-actions make up the epoxy that ends up gluing local “civilization” back together, molecule by molecule, until the next “charismatic leader,” or some induced or natural shortage, sets them off again.

      The urge of some to intervene, catalyzed and promoted by Experienced Players or yes, “corporate interests” like arms makers, and the Likudniks and Hezbollah and our neocons, might have some bits of nobility and altruism. But there’s a lot of cynical SOBs behind the “backdrop” offering cues and stage-whispered dialogue to the heros and heroines.

      “Something must be done!” but what, of course, is that? Aye, there’s the rub…

  12. Prof. Cole, you wrote this:

    “Because of gridlock at the UN Security Council, and because of regional splits, the Syrian people are likely on their own. They began their uprising, they will have to finish it. … The regional powers balance and check one another, just as the global ones do.”

    Particularly in light of that, if we are not to take your references to that incredibly-vague term “the left” as anything other than a gratuitous slam, I think it’s necessary for you to do what you have attacked others for failing to do: explain precisely what it is you think we – however you care to define the term, whether the world community in general, the West in particular, or the US specifically – should do.

    Or are you as “clueless” as those at who you sneer?

    • What I said is that you lot have not so much as forcefully condemned Bashar for the massacre in Homs. For all we know you approve of it

  13. The majority (of both parties) opposes U.S. involvement in Syria, probably fearing another Iraq or Afghanistan. (I also recall the attack on U.S. troops and U.S. embassy in Beirut in 1983). This could change if politicians of both parties supported intervention, but aside from McCain I haven’t heard much call for it.

    link to people-press.org

  14. Anybody. Please explain the following to me.

    “This week, a bipartisian group of seventeen U.S. Senators delivered a letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta expressing grave concern about $1 billion in contracts the U.S. government signed with Rosoboronexport — the Russian arms dealer that supplies the Syrian government with weapons capable of targeting homes and streets and murdering thousands of innocent Syrian civilians — and he didn’t have an answer.”

    link to secure3.convio.net

  15. Professor Cole decries world inaction, but I wish he presented a more clear idea as to what he thinks should be done.

  16. Worries me what this is all about, oil again? A pipeline? Iran reserves?
    “Damascus /NationalTurk – Qatar finances and arms radical intervention force based in Turkey to activate it in Syria with the purpose to defeat the government of Tyrant president Bashar al-Assad reports the Israeli website DEBKAFile”

  17. link to bbc.co.uk
    17 March 2012 By Tom Little BBC Monitoring
    “Syria’s Kurds appear divided and unsure whether to join the uprising”

    Methinks anyone sure what to do has a vested interest in the outcome

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