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Total number of comments: 13 (since 2013-11-28 15:55:28)


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  • The Hubris of the Syria Interventionists
    • This has to be one of the worst pieces Ive yet read regarding the question of intervention in Syria.

      Its the worst primarily as it manipulates the constant assertion from the Left that this is like Iraq. The basis for this argument is a rather loose argument that it is equally sectarian and multi-ethnic hence prone to the factionalized warfare seen there.

      Implicit too in this argument is that like Iraq intervention would be hopeless even though no occupation force is being remotely suggested. (Hence nothing like Iraq at all on the most pertinent difference)

      Not long ago you were, commendably, in favour of action to attack the Ghaddaffi's war machine. Your argument then was one that relied heavily on the immanent threat to Bengazi. Here in Syria you fell on the other side of the fence and therefore use the same argumentation that was used AGAINST you when Libya was in the midst of its revolution.

      Bizarrely, you even try and count bodies to maximize the Iraq present situation and minimize or make ambiguous the bloodshed's size in Syria.

      You claim that there would be no positive benefit for bombing Assad's military because there would be too much collateral damage. The same military problem was indeed found in Libya and the collateral damage was greatly minimized. It is always unfortunate whn civilians are killed by air strikes, but the greater benefit is that a dictator willing and capable of killing masses of "his" own people was ended.

      The Libyans were begging for intervention, the millions in camps around Syria's borders are begging for intervention and you have the gall to suggest the best action is no action just improve refugee relief?

      Your attempt at consistency by minimizing similarities with Libya and maximizing similarities to Iraq is disingenuous at the very least.

      This mass killing is happening irrespective of the CW hooha that we are witnessing now. Failure to use the intervention for R2P will haunt the West just as the slow burn in Bosnia did until action was finally taken and atrocities too heinous to fall silent (particularly the Sarajevo atrocities).

      Inaction keeps Assad in power and ends the Arab Springs hopes for good in Syria.

  • President Obama's Doubtful Grounds for Military Action against Syria
    • Firstly, I was not implying that you were without principle. I apologize if that was how it came out in my response to your post, that is certainly not what you stand for.

      We both know that getting a mandate from the UNSC is never going to happen with Assad using the strategy of gradualist attacks upon the resistance forces (although just Tuesday he resumed air attacks after a 2 week break as fear of US reprisals has been removed) and Russia will not allow this.

      As you state " I am not unsympathetic to the idea that the UNSC is broken, and that partisan uses of the veto by the five permanent members warp and deform it, rendering it useless in cases such as Syria."

      And I agree the symbolic strike insinuated by Kerry, even if taken unilaterally, would achieve little.

      However, I doubt that a US unilateral enforcement of a no-fly zone would be symbolic. It would be absolutely game-changing.

      Would it be "clean"? No. But better than the grinding bloodshed and tyranny implicit in this present course of events.

      The present approach is hopelessly bad. Assad will increase his hold on Syria and make any chance of a brokered peace impossible.

      Much as I do not want to be on the same side as AIPAC on this conflict, I see no benefit to just leaving it be.

      The closest parallel hear is not Iraq, not Libya and not Afghanistan, it is Bosnia, and the more we leave it to fester and appease the likes of Assad/Milosevitch, the more that will die needlessly and on a grand scale.

      We complain that the US breaks international law when they mess up (Iraq) and then use that to justify passivity when that course results in oblivion for millions? Really?


    • I'm surprised Juan that you are taking this tack on Syria after your much appreciated support for US action against Ghaddaffi's forces by enforcing a no-fly zone. Here in Syria as time progresses things are getting worse for the rebel forces and their message gradually diluted into "Islamist" and "factional" opposition forces.

      The same fate would have befallen the Libyan rebels eventually and there would have been hundreds of thousands of deaths along the way.
      Then the threat to Bengazi made the focus imminent. Here we only have chemical weapons as a trigger otherwise its just the barely newsworthy atrocities of a few hundred casualties here and there and the ignored plight of millions of refugees.

      The reality is that things will keep going in this direction and Assad will cement his grip on the country.

      The use of force to destroy Assad's capability to control the skies would force Assad to retrench in the Allawite coastal heartland and force him to negotiate a peace likely leading to a decentralized federalized or partitioned Syria that may or may not unify in the future.

      To simply call for non-violent responses here is naive. Bank accounts aren't needed to slowly decimate the resistance just access to Iranian and Russian arms and overwhelming control of the air.

      What happened to you Juan?

  • The United Nations will Investigate Civilian Deaths in US Drone Strikes
    • "Yes, I know that drones make it easier for the Taliban to recruit, but looking from a military point of view what would work instead?

      The schools and clinics built by PRT are blown up or burnt down. So, how can the west gain trust other than pull out and let the country collapse?"

      I think you answered your own question although your conclusion (collapse) is debatable.

  • Mark Twain on Courage
  • House Libya Vote: Anti-War or Just Anti-Obama?
    • The trend seems to be vote for Barely Moral Quagmire vote against Humanitarian Intervention (last no vote from congress was for Clinton intervention in Bosnia).

      This is a really big mistake by the House.

  • An Open Letter to the Left on Libya
    • Congressional approval was not legally necessary and waiting for the House to decide (Senate had already debated and seen in favour although didn't vote) would have made action moot.

      Your quote comes from Fredrick Douglas.

      Now NATO forces are demanding Ghaddaffi relinquishes power and it will eventually have the desired effect.

      Progress 3 Regress 0

    • Care of Gilbert Achcar:

      from: link to

      "So who is the opposition? The composition of the opposition is -- as in all the other revolts shaking the region -- very heterogeneous. What unites all the disparate forces is a rejection of the dictatorship and a longing for democracy and human rights. Beyond that, there are many different perspectives. In Libya, more particularly, there is a mixture of human rights activists, democracy advocates, intellectuals, tribal elements, and Islamic forces -- a very broad collection. The most prominent political force in the Libyan uprising is the "Youth of the 17th of February Revolution," which has a democratic platform, calling for the rule of law, political freedoms, and free elections. The Libyan movement also includes sections of the government and the armed forces that have broken away and joined the opposition -- which you didn't have in Tunisia or Egypt.

      So the Libyan opposition represents a mixture of forces, and the bottom line is that there is no reason for any different attitude toward them than to any other of the mass uprisings in the region."

    • Actually you are wrong regarding the legality of the military option.

      He still technically has 90 days under the War Powers Act and he did inform congress prior to action. In addition as a signatory to the UN the president has authority to intervene in a military action approved by the UNSC:

      See this for the specifics: link to

      As pointed out by another poster above Yemen Bahrain Syria have not formed a coalition of town-city leaders and asked for an NFZ, neither is an entire city on the verge of an imminent slaughter. (Why does this have to be repeated ad nauseum?).


      The skepticism about what will come next reminds me a lot of the Right wing orientalist tendency to see it as impossible that the genuine motives of Arab people could be to aspire to freedoms that the West seems to take for granted as "self-evident."

    • That's pretty easy for you to say as you have never lived under a dictatorship. Under those circumstances you may reconsider the position of willful obedience.

      Its equally easy to clutch at principles of pacifism when your family's life is on the line. I doubt you could find a single Qaddafi stooge that would share your moral conviction.

    • Well as an "Arab Leftist" I never needed any convincing that what Cole was getting at was correct.

      Try the argument from another Arab Leftist and staunch anti-Imperialist Gilbert Achcar for size:
      from: link to

      "A final comment: for so many years, we have been denouncing the hypocrisy and double standard of imperialist powers, pointing to the fact that they didn't prevent the all-too-real genocide in Rwanda while they intervened in order to stop the fictitious "genocide" in Kosovo. This implied that we thought that international intervention should have been deployed in order to prevent or stop the genocide in Rwanda. The left should certainly not proclaim such absolute "principles" as "We are against Western powers' military intervention whatever the circumstances." This is not a political position, but a religious taboo. One can safely bet that the present intervention in Libya will prove most embarrassing for imperialist powers in the future. As those members of the US establishment who opposed their country's intervention rightly warned, the next time Israel's air force bombs one of its neighbours, whether Gaza or Lebanon, people will demand a no-fly zone. I, for one, definitely will. Pickets should be organized at the UN in New York demanding it. We should all be prepared to do so, with now a powerful argument.

      The left should learn how to expose imperialist hypocrisy by using against it the very same moral weapons that it cynically exploits, instead of rendering this hypocrisy more effective by appearing as not caring about moral considerations. They are the ones with double standards, not us."

      Ideology is sometimes the enemy of rational thinking as well as moral reasoning.

    • Alas, PheonixWoman, you may be waiting a long time.
      Your support has been well noted and thanks.

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