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The escalating civil war in Syria has seen a parallel civil war across mass media amongst the progressive caucus. Cries of "not another Iraq!" join with alternating shouts of "freedom and democracy for all!" The politicking not withstanding, this is certainly an international issue that has proven downright divisive for us here on the Left.

For me, having been too young to vote against Dubya during the Iraq fiasco, the conflict in Syria rings with a tune of frustrated familiarity. Chemical weapons of mass destruction. Brutal Middle-Eastern dictator. Unspecified involvement. Missiles. Bombs. Etc and so on.

But it also reminds me of the moral obligation I naively learned at that same time reading, funny enough, comic books. "With great power comes great responsibility." A motto seemingly built for a 16 year-old with superhero fantasies. And, apparently, the President of the United States of America.

Follow me below the fold, for more.

The conflict I have seen across the webs of cyberspace among the Left has been essentially that of radicals versus realists. Straw man? Perhaps, but I have seen those against involvement in Syria cry havoc. I have seen Obama referred to as Hitler, as another Bush, as a tool for the military-industrial-complex. I have seen many decry our involvement as only more war profiteering, greed, and more besides. Many say this is simply another Iraq; another conflict without end, against an enemy of our own making, numberless, ambiguous. An unsustainable war. They call Obama a liar. They call the entire situation a no win. They say it isn't our fight.

And who is saying these things? A strangely-knit coalition of people like Anonymous, MoveOn.org, CREDO, and a vast number of individuals who are so far to the Left, they actually think Obama is as bad as Bush! The hyperbole would be hilarious if it weren't coming from people who should know better.

But, more importantly, the hyperbole would be hilarious if innocent people, especially children, weren't being systematically murdered by the Assad government.

That's why I frame this debate as such: radicals versus realists. I, like most of the country, am tired of war, tired of conflict after conflict in a war-torn region of the world that is too often ruled by warlords and demagogues. But does my exhaustion abdicate my moral conscience? Can we honestly ignore the use of chemical weapons on a civilian population? Do we no longer care about the rest of the world after decades of pretending to be its leader? Are we so ignorant as to think that isolationism is a good idea? That it's not our problem?

On other hand... different fingers. Are we so arrogant as to think our interference is warranted or even wanted? Are we so stupidly, smugly superior as to think we can flout the rest of the world's sovereignty or laws in order to mete out our own version of justice? Is another endless conflict really worth it when the outcome is either a brutal dictator or a rebellion of fanatics who hate us? Why do we have such money for war all of a sudden but none for education, healthcare, or even a functioning government bureaucracy?

These questions paralyze me with indecision. Anyone with half a brain knows there is no simple answer, no easy solution. We cannot, as human beings, stand by while thousands are murdered by weapons the world as deemed so gruesome that they cannot be used even in war.

The last time we did that, six million of my fellow Jews died, along with five million assorted others.

But our involvement would serve no purpose other than to inflame, entangle, and derail. We cannot save this country; both sides hate us. And we cannot guarantee the safety of those we would wish to protect.

So why act? Why lob a few cruise missiles? To deter future dictators from using chemical weapons? To say, "we don't approve of this, so shut it down before we get angry!" ??? I don't know. I really don't.

I wish someone could tell me what we should do. Not nothing. Never nothing. Doing nothing is an illusion. Cowardly. A surrender of agency that we have no right to anymore, not after so many decades of capriciously deciding who deserves democracy and who doesn't.

But I digress... I am disappointed by the radical Left, my compatriots. They have surrendered their reason and sanity to an ideology rather than to the reality. This isn't Iraq. This is Syria. This isn't Bush. This is Obama. Different actors, different players, a different time. It's so much easier to just pretend every intervention is an evil money-making scheme. It's easy to pretend that any war by the government is built on lies. But the facts are being declassified almost as fast as they're coming in. The POTUS, VPOTUS, and indeed, our entire government is FOR ONCE trying to do the right thing by instigating our involvement rather than through unilateral action over our objections.

I don't know if we will do any good in Syria, but if fear gives us pause then maybe we've missed the point of the lessons I learned from Spiderman and Stan Lee.

And yes, I know it's so easy for me to wrangle over this from the comfort of my home, rather than in some Damascus neighborhood or Marine Corps Humvee. But I delegated these choices to my representatives with my vote. I empowered them to lead me. I may question their judgment, but to say I don't know what to do and then hide is bullshit. People are dying.

I know, people die every day; and far more die every day from far more preventable circumstances than this conflict. Where is my internal struggle there? Where is my compassion for them? I have no answer. I am not perfect. I am not all knowing or all seeing or all anything. I do not have the compassion to care for every senseless death or the wisdom even to know them. But I see this one. I care about this one. That means something to me.

Tikkun Olam, right? Some little lights of my own, but together they make a flame of hope. Or so I was taught. So I believe.

Ultimately, this diary is nothing but a rambling, a ranting, a raving. It's not meant to change minds or move hearts. It's not supposed to draw ire or incite anger. It's not meant to be all-encompassing. It's just a feeling, a powerful feeling, that too many people are ignoring the forest for the trees and vice versa.

Actually, it's a feeling that too many people, who should know better, are throwing their hands up in forced apathy. As if mass murder were comparable to a homeless man with an empty coffee cup on the sidewalk. Just something -- no, SOMEONE -- you could walk away from.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joe from Lowell, josmndsn, radarlady

    "When facts are reported, they deny the value of evidence; when the evidence is produced, they declare it inconclusive." -- Augustine, in The City of God.

    by Zek J Evets on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 01:42:38 AM PDT

  •  Chomsky on R2P (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Free Jazz at High Noon, CenPhx

    I wrote a diary on this conflict as well. I'll spare you the pain of reading it.

    The point I'd like to make is found at the bottom of Chomsky's piece:
    http://www.chomsky.info/...

    Now tell me again, who are the realists and who are the idealists?

    Others have simply gotten old. I prefer to think I've been tempered by time.

    by Just Bob on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 02:00:10 AM PDT

    •  That is such a great article (0+ / 0-)

      Anyone who believes that we are invoking the R2P doctrine out of a genuine and principled humitarian aim should be required to read this. His outline of our selective decisions about when to intervene and when we let people die is absolutely brutal in its clarity.

      Thanks JustBob. I will now go look for your diary.

      The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived, and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. --John F. Kennedy

      by CenPhx on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 05:32:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Some days I should just stay in bed (0+ / 0-)

        Damn.

        It's the hope at the bottom of the article I'm focused on.

        To quote myself, "Now tell me again, who are the realists and who are the idealists?"

        Others have simply gotten old. I prefer to think I've been tempered by time.

        by Just Bob on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 06:13:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oops. Did I miss your point? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Just Bob

          You took away something different than I did, huh?

          I liked the focus at the end as well - that we might use the doctrine, going forward, to protect those that need it and not use it as a blanket excuse for military adventurism. I think hope is good, but we need to be mindful of our tendency to only be selectively helpful and work against that tendency.

          The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived, and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. --John F. Kennedy

          by CenPhx on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 06:28:48 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Chomsky warns against that, but hear me out here (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            CenPhx

            Chomsky's concern is that R2P favors the powerful over the weak. He's right. It does. Same as it ever was. Nothing changes. It's still the same. It can't take away anything you never had.

            I don't want to shout at anyone this early in the morning so I'll use italics instead.

            Only the powerful states have the means to intervene.

            That's why my focus is on the last paragraph.

            Others have simply gotten old. I prefer to think I've been tempered by time.

            by Just Bob on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 06:36:32 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Oh, I agree with that part, too! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Just Bob

              And I liked your diary.

              The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived, and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. --John F. Kennedy

              by CenPhx on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 06:46:04 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  So now what? (0+ / 0-)

                The German article we saw yesterday tells us how close the Assad regime is to falling.

                Let's go back in time to when we were most recently negotiating chemical weapon disposal and destruction. At that time CW was referred to as the poor man's nuke. Assad is so desperate he's nuking his own population to stay in power.

                We were so close before Obama stepped back. Now the situation is more critical than ever. Who is going to secure that CW stockpile?

                My guess is no one will and there's going to be a lot of dead people in the ME and perhaps beyond.

                I'm struck by the Syrian woman who said the entire world has failed them and another woman with a sign reading, "Dear World, Fuck You!"

                Others have simply gotten old. I prefer to think I've been tempered by time.

                by Just Bob on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 07:01:10 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  The academese... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Just Bob

      Seems to hinder this discussion more than help it. I like Chomsky, because it's easy to put an uncompromising individual on a pedestal. But I'm not talking about all the tragedies in all the world compared to this one.

      Rather, I'm talking about all the tragedies in this one country compared all the wrong we've done -- and all the good we failed to do. Aren't you even a little bit ashamed to turn your back on these people? I know I am.

      I digress... My diary is not a question of realism versus idealism. It's a question of radicals versus realists. The radical side is so committed to their blanketed position (much like Grover Norquist with his "No Taxes Ever") that they cannot even function properly when confronted with the real world. Meanwhile, the realists are wringing their hands (like me) over the possibility of another war in the Middle-East against an enemy we cannot defeat, or strengthen, for a cause the average American doesn't care about, to help people we'd probably look sideways at in the airport.

      It reminds me of that quote by Bukowski. "The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence."

      Again, yes this is somewhat a straw-man, but it rings true for me. More importantly, it rings true in this situation when a group of people so committed to humanitarianism suddenly throw up their hands in the face of murder and suffering that can ONLY be described as "evil."

      That isn't to say that we should start lobbying bombs into Syria. Maybe we can put international pressure? Embargoes? Show our evidence to Russia on the world stage and force them to put pressure on Assad? I don't know. I'm not an expert here. But Chomsky advocates inaction. And that, to me, is unacceptable when people are dying like this.

      "When facts are reported, they deny the value of evidence; when the evidence is produced, they declare it inconclusive." -- Augustine, in The City of God.

      by Zek J Evets on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 10:02:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  to offer a perspective I acquired in 1970-1972 (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, InAntalya, whizdom, PhilK, CenPhx

    I would point out that slaughter continues apace in Somalia and Sudan and Mali with no mention of the necessity of US boots on the ground there and our air attacks there have been extremely futile and our insertion of "trainers" not very efficacious.

    I would also point out that we tried to intervene in Lebanon with the results of hundreds of dead marines.  I would also point out that Lebanon was invaded a couple of times by Israel and the Israelis finally pulled out, recognizing that the situation could not be handled militarily.  Ironically, the Syrian Army then moved in and some sort of stability was restored basically because Hizbullah finally evolved into a political party (with growing pains)
    I would also point out that Lebanon was created by France following the break up of the Ottoman Empire to ensure a permanent Christian controlled entity in the region (think of it as the Crusader Castle or Fort Apache concept).  The Lebanese constitution even guaranteed continued Christian parity in the country's political life.  What is the upshot of Western and Israeli actions in this country?  It remains as volatile as ever and Hizbullah is a major player in the country.

    Should Assad fall and our munitions magically don't kill children and other innocents, who will replace him?  The Saudis have funded various Salafist movements in the area and al Qaeda has a strong core of experienced fighters.  Hizbullah is also next door and will jump at the opportunity to increase their influence.  The moderates are hopelessly disorganized militarily and politically naive.

    Let me offer you the question my father asked me in 1964 when I was cheering increased US intervention in VN.  He asked me if I were willing to go there and possibly die there, if I were willing to see friends, classmates. neighbors and even relatives die there.  While every conflict is supposed to be short-term, the reality is that 14 and 16 year olds usually end up having the opportunity to fight in wars begun before they were of age.  Wars by their nature are not controlled but instead, like wildfire, tend to expand and even explode    

  •  It is amazing that so many seemingly informed (6+ / 0-)

    thoughtful people leave the radical rebels, who are the majority of the rebels, out of their statements about the killing of innocents

    ... if innocent people, especially children, weren't being systematically murdered by the Assad government.
    implying by omission that the rebels don't.

    Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

    by InAntalya on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 02:54:12 AM PDT

    •  McCain has that covered (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      InAntalya, CenPhx, joe from Lowell

      We are only going to provide money, arms and air support to the FSA.  

    •  PROVE IT! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joe from Lowell
      the radical rebels, who are the majority of the rebels, out of their statements about the killing of innocents
      This is the Assad line pure and simple - "my opposition is all Al Qaeda". In line with the community standards here, you are required to prove such assertions.

      We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

      by Lib Dem FoP on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 04:22:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

        •  Huffington Post (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          PhilK, InAntalya, tardis10, CenPhx

          Syria Rebels 'Committing War Crimes', Amnesty Urges Caution Over Arming Opposition
          HuffingtonPost

          In the report, Amnesty warned that armed opposition groups in the country are increasingly resorting to hostage taking, and to the torture and summary killing of soldiers, pro-government militias and civilians they’ve captured or abducted.

          It said: "The dead bodies found every day in towns and villages across Syria bearing marks of execution-style killing and torture are the grim evidence of mounting war crimes and other abuses being committed not just by government forces, but also by armed opposition groups."

          It warned that any state considering supplying arms must have "a robust monitoring process" and "strong mitigation measures... to allow for any arms transfer subsequently approved to be rapidly halted should evidence emerge that the arms are being or will be used to carry out serious human rights abuses, or are being transferred or diverted to third parties."

          Amnesty called on governments to ban the supply of cluster bombs or land mines, which pro-government forces are suspected of using to kill civilians.

          It also asked for the United Nations to "refer, as a matter of urgency, the situation in Syria to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for investigation of crimes under international law."

          The human rights charity said opposition forces are dumping bodies in a ‘hole of death’ in Damascus, and that children have been used militarily by opposition groups - albeit usually in support roles.

          •  These are McCain's "Good guys" (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            CenPhx

            After these incidents we set up a "Charm School" in Turkey to teach the FSA guys the law of war and public relations..  

            Free Syrian Army-Wikipedia

            The FSA has been accused of summarily executing numerous prisoners who it claims are government soldiers or shabiha,[159] and people who it claims are informers. A rebel commander in Damascus said that over the months his unit had executed perhaps 150 people that the "military council" had found to be informers. He explained: "If a man is accused of being an informer, he is judged by the military council. Then he is either executed or released".[160] Nadim Houry, a Middle East researcher for Human Rights Watch argued that "Intentionally killing anyone, even a shabiha, once he is outside of combat is a war crime, regardless of how horrible the person may have been".[161] On 10 August 2012, a report indicated that Human Rights Watch was investigating rebel forces for such killings. The FSA, for its part, stated that they would put those fighters that had conducted the unlawful killings on trial.[162]
            Witnesses have also reported rebels conducting 'trial by grave' in which an alleged government soldier was given a mock trial next to a pre-made grave and executed on the spot by members of the FSA Amr bin al-Aas brigade. One rebel said: "We took him right to his grave and, after hearing the witnesses' statements, we shot him dead".[163][164]
            The Daoud Battalion, operating in the Jabal-al-Zawiya area, has reportedly used captured soldiers in proxy bombings. This involved tying the captured soldier into a car loaded with explosives and forcing him to drive to an Army checkpoint, where the explosives would be remotely-detonated.[160][165][166]
            The UN noted some credible allegations that rebel forces, including the FSA, were recruiting children as soldiers, despite stated FSA policy of not recruiting anyone under the age of 17.[167] One rebel commander said that his 16-year-old son had died fighting government troops.[168]
            In a video uploaded to the Internet in early August, an FSA representative announced that, in response to international concerns, FSA units would follow the Geneva Convention's guidelines for the treatment of prisoners and would guarantee its captives food, medical attention and holding areas away from combat zones. He also invited Red Cross workers to inspect their detention facilities.[160] On 8 August, FSA commanders distributed an 11-point code of conduct signed by scores of brigade commanders and rebel leaders. It states that all fighters must "respect human rights ... our tolerant religious principles and international human rights law – the same human rights that we are struggling for today".[169][170]
            The following is a timeline of alleged war crimes by FSA-aligned groups:
            On 22 May 2012, an FSA brigade kidnapped 11 Lebanese pilgrims coming from Iran.[171] Four of them were killed in an airstrike by the Syrian Air Force and the rest were released unharmed.[172]
            On 20 July 2012, Iraq's deputy interior minister, Adnan al-Assadi, said that Iraqi border guards had witnessed the FSA take control of a border post, detain a Syrian Army lieutenant colonel, and then cut off his arms and legs before executing 22 Syrian soldiers.[173]
            On 21 July 2012, Turkish truck drivers said that they had their trucks stolen by members of the FSA when it captured a border post. They said that some of the trucks were burnt and others sold back to their drivers after the goods were looted.[174]
            The United Nations report on war crimes states that the FSA's execution of five Alawite soldiers in Latakia, post-July 2012 was a war crime. The report states, "In this instance, the FSA perpetrated the war crime of execution without due process."[158]
            On 13 August 2012, a series of three videos surfaced showing executions of prisoners, apparently by rebel forces, in Aleppo province. In one video, six postal workers were being thrown off the main postal building in Al-Bab to their deaths, purportedly by FSA fighters. The gunmen claimed they were shabiha.[175][176][177][178]
            On 9 September 2012 the FSA exploded a car bomb near al-Hayat Hospital and the Central Hospital in Aleppo. According to Syrian state media, at least 30 people were killed[179] and more than 64 wounded.[180] The FSA claimed that the Army had occupied the hospital buildings and were using them as a base.[181]
            On 10 September 2012 the FSA's Hawks of Syria brigade executed more than 20 Syrian soldiers captured in Hanano military base.[182]
            On 2 November 2012 the FSA's al-Siddiq Battalion kidnapped and executed prominent Syrian actor Mohammed Rafeh. It claimed he was a member of the shabiha and was carrying a gun and military ID.[183][184]
            In May 2013, a video was posted on the internet showing a rebel cutting organs from the dead body of a Syrian soldier and putting one in his mouth, "as if he is taking a bite out of it". He called rebels to follow his example and terrorize the Alawite sect, which mostly backs Assad. Humans Rights Watch (HRW) confirmed the authenticity of the footage, and stated that "The mutilation of the bodies of enemies is a war crime". The rebel was Abu Sakkar, a commander of the "Independent Omar al-Farouq Brigade". The BBC called it an offshoot of the FSA's Farouq Brigades, while HRW said it is "not known" whether the Brigade is part of the FSA. The incident was condemned by the FSA's Chief of Staff and the Syrian National Coalition said that Abu Sakkar would be put on trial.[185][186] Abu Sakkar said the mutilation was revenge. He said he found a video on the soldier's cellphone in which the soldier sexually abuses a woman and her two daughters,[187] along with other videos of Assad loyalists raping, torturing, dismembering and killing
      •  As soon as you put up some evidence that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CenPhx

        the majority of rebels are secular 'freedom fighters'.

        Or how about when you list a dozen rebel groups, their ideologies, which other rebel groups they are allied with, and where they are dominant.

        Or you could come over here and I'll show you some of their 'handiwork'.

        And the community here already knows me well.

        Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

        by InAntalya on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 04:54:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  NOT proof YOU are required to show under the rules (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          joe from Lowell

          Your assertion is that the majority of the rebels are from such groups. I call rubbish. You have provided no evidence for your assertion other than specific allegations about very small groups within the rebels, which does not prove it. Opposition groups do contain individuals with horrible records including the one seen "eating" a soldier's heart however IIRC in that case he was disciplined by the group itself.

          You are playing exactly the same game that the opponents of any intervention are making whereas in fact even if your assertions were true, the fighters do not represent the majority of those opposed to the regime or who have fled either their homes or the country - now estimated as around 5 million, 2 million refugees registered with the UNHCR, families of those working outside Syria before the conflict which are not counted among those and IDPs.

          We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

          by Lib Dem FoP on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 05:39:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Call rubbish as much as you want. (0+ / 0-)

            As to the 'very small groups within the rebels' - learn a little about al-Nusrah and ISI(S) and Ras al-Ayn, Qamishli, and al-Hasakah and then tell me all about these 'very small groups within the rebels'.

            But you did at least say one interesting thing

            ... the fighters do not represent the majority of those opposed to the regime ...
            There are many Syrians who are anti-Assad (just as there are many Americans who are anti-Obama) but many intellectually lazy people try to equate anti-Assad with pro-rebel, and this is simply not true.

            Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

            by InAntalya on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 06:01:15 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  YOU provide the evidence (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              joe from Lowell

              INCLUDING links if you wish to continue your assertions. What proportion of the armed fighters are they then?

              You also failed to note another point. IF the West had taken this sort of action when the Assad regime FIRST used poison gas, the radical groups would not have been able to take the hold you claim.

              We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

              by Lib Dem FoP on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 06:07:44 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Have fun talking bullshit with yourself. (0+ / 0-)

                It's clear now - your last paragraph confirms it - that you know almost nothing about Syria and only want to make yourself busy writing meaningless comments.

                And don't forget to write at least one more comment about how you 'won'.

                You won.

                Your debating skills are fantastic.

                Congratulations.

                Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

                by InAntalya on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 06:20:17 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  In other words (0+ / 0-)

                  You admit you are spouting assertions you cannot or will not substantiate.

                  Assad (or rather the regime which controls him rather than the other way round) has used gas before. The French claim to have proof of another 4 or 5 occasions, the British deputy PM claims around 10 more instances. These (in the current conflict) go back at least two years. The latest incident is the best reported use of chemical weapons and probably the largest death toll in a single incident.

                  You also seem to assert that the Hezbollah fighters are not "radical" - is that because they are fighting on the regime's side?

                  Since you are (I presume) in Turkey, you will know very well how the Syrian conflict is destabilizing its neighbors. Lebanon has added around 700,000 formal refugees, plus an unknown number of family member of ex-pat Syrians working there before the conflict, to its existing 4 million of which many are Palestinian refugees. The recent re-opening of a border control resulted in refugees flooding into northern Iraq. Turkey itself has been shelled by Assad's forces. That alone would be a legitimate causus belli for both Turkey and NATO if the opportunity had been taken.

                  In fact your argument AGAINST intervention by outside countries would appear to be a very good reason FOR western countries overthrowing the regime so that democratic organisations (which you appear to agree represent the majority) do have a chance of establishing a legitimate government.

                  We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

                  by Lib Dem FoP on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 07:15:21 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  So you can't back up your claim? (0+ / 0-)

                  Everyone knows that there are radical, even al-Qaeda-aligned, groups in Syria.

                  You claimed that they represent the majority of the anti-government side, but you can't provide any evidence of that.

                  If that faction is so strong, why can't they get near Damascus, like the elements of the FSA that we are backing?

                  If they are so strong, why did the government feel the need to gas the FSA fighters in a semi-circle south of Damascus, instead of the Nusra Front?

                  If they're so strong, why did they get driven out of Homs, while the FSA were about to overrun the 4th Armored - repeated ARMORED - division?

                  If they're so strong, why are they off beating up on hapless Kurds, instead of fighting Assad's army?

                  Can you answer any of these questions, of are you just going to yell "Do you know who the fuck I am?" some more?

                  Art is the handmaid of human good.

                  by joe from Lowell on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 07:18:52 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  the latest column by the inimitable Pepe Escobar (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CenPhx
    US: The indispensable (bombing) nation
    By Pepe Escobar

    Yes We Scan. Yes We Drone. And Yes We Bomb. The White House's propaganda blitzkrieg to sell the Tomahawking of Syria to the US Congress is already reaching pre-bombing maximum spin - gleefully reproduced by US corporate media.

    And yes, all parallels to Iraq 2.0 duly came to fruition when US Secretary of State John Kerry pontificated that Bashar al-Assad "now joins the list of Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein" as an evil monster. Why is Cambodia's Pol Pot never mentioned? Oh yes, because the US supported him.

    the rest is here:

    http://www.atimes.com/...

    We're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression.

    by Lepanto on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 04:39:33 AM PDT

    •  AND? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joe from Lowell

      What has the past sometimes disgraceful record of the USA (and all countries) got to do with the price of fish? If you want to go back that far, the USA committed what would now be considered attempted genocide by bacteriological methods when they distributed smallpox infected blankets to native Americans.

      Syria is not Iraq and Obama is not Bush.

      We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

      by Lib Dem FoP on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 05:43:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Syria is not Iraq. Kerry is not Rumsfeld. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Zek J Evets

        And most importantly, lies are not the truth, even if both the lies and the truths have WMDs as their subject matter.

        Have you noticed that, unlike the runup to the Iraq War, when the administration's case kept having holes poked in it, and their evidence kept collapsing, none of the people shouting "Just Like Iraq!" have been able to cite anything the Obama administration has gotten wrong in its case?

        All they've got is an ad hominem argument (Bush lied!), but they can't even get the right hominem.

        Art is the handmaid of human good.

        by joe from Lowell on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 07:22:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  OK follow their logic (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          joe from Lowell

          They are saying that because Bush lied, Obama is lying or has been duped by the intelligence services. Either way they presumably should be pressing not for a no vote but for Obama's impeachment as unfit to govern - in the same way they called for that of Bush.

          Their position would be more legitimate if the French, German and even the British intelligence services did not also conclude that a poison gas, probably sarin, was used, was fired by rockets from multiple positions held by the regime into the rebel area of the city and that the rebels themselves did not have the capability to fire them.

          How do they reconcile their position with that of the Deputy PM of the UK, Nick Clegg, who was one of the leading objectors to the "intelligence" based reasons for going to war with Iraq and , who has seen the evidence and was in favor of a limited, proportionate attack on Syrian government assets?  

          We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

          by Lib Dem FoP on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 08:13:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Questions you raise are not new... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PhilK

    They are the same ones I have heard MANY times.  As an
    aging Vietnam War Vet I have not just heard them but also lived them.

    The usual outcome is an action based mostly on emotion and hysteria, rather than reason, logic and law.

    As you state, the players are different.  Each time they are different, but the outcomes are very similar.

    Set aside emotion and hysteria for a few moments and view the Syrian civil war and our role using reason, logic and law.

    This requires making a list of facts:

    Syria has been in a civil war for about 2 1/2 years.

    Over 120,000 Syrians have died.

    Millions of Syrians are displaced and seeking refuge in nearby countries.

    The recent chemical weapons attack is only one of about 14 since the start of the civil war, with an attack in March of 2013 believed to have been attributed to the rebels.

    For 2 1/2 years the international community has been aghast at the terror of this civil war but has done nothing to stop it.

    The US government has NO moral authority to assert itself in this issue of chem weapon use due to our history of using Napalm, WP and Agent Orange in Vietnam, just to name a few of the chemical weapons we have used.  WP (White Phosphorus) has been extensively used in US munitions from World War II to as recently as Libya in 2011.

    There is no such thing as a 'Limited' ACT OF WAR, just as there is no such thing as being 'a little bit' pregnant.  When a nation commits an ACT OF WAR they are AT WAR.

    A Tomahawk Cruise missile costs about $1,000,000 each.

    The current scenario calls for a limited attack of a few days, which may use up to 200 of these missiles.  We currently have 5 warships off the coast of Syria, each with 95 cruise missiles. So, for about half a billion dollars we will break and take ownership of the Syria civil war.

    What comes next???

    If we are to represent the international community, because we have the power and might to do so, we need the endorsement of the international community, which does not currently exist.

    We are in a 'go it alone' act of war against a sovereign nation without a UN mandate or a large international coalition of the willing.

    After reviewing this rudimentary list of facts, my conclusion is we have no reasonable, logical or legal right to attack Syria.

    For me, containment is the policy of choice. This would include weapons embargo, travel and economic sanctions,  mobilization of diplomatic channels and the securing of a mandate from the UN or the development of a large coalition of the willing before military action can be considered.

    *Austerity is the opposite of Prosperity*

    by josmndsn on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 07:22:27 AM PDT

    •  I like the idea of involving the UN... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      josmndsn

      But they seem just as paralyzed as I am at the moment. It would be nice to make our case on the world stage, force Russia's hand maybe, but it feels wrong to make speeches while people are dying...

      You point out a laundry list of reasons why we shouldn't go, many/all of which I covered in my diary, but I notice you leave out the most important reason why people feel we should:

      Because thousands of innocent people, including children, are being killed by one of the most horrendous weapons known to humanity.

      Does it matter then that we failed to do good before? That we haven't adequately focused on other similar tragedies? That we'd be hypocrites anyways given our own military history? That the costs is too high? You argue that we have no right to save anyone as if you need to be a rich saint to lend out a helping hand. I don't accept this argument. Perhaps it's fitting that we have much to atone for and are still in debt when we act first among nations to save as many as we can... If we even can.

      You look at this logically, reasonably, and I can honestly say that makes me deeply uncomfortable. Godwin's law be damned, but the Nazis were logical, reasonable. And genocidal.

      I guess, to me, there's no other reaction to death by chemical weapons other than the emotional one. Why? Because that's the one empowered by our humanity, rather than it's opposite.

      "When facts are reported, they deny the value of evidence; when the evidence is produced, they declare it inconclusive." -- Augustine, in The City of God.

      by Zek J Evets on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 10:12:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Humanitarian issue is not a military problem. (0+ / 0-)

        I prefaced my comments by saying to set aside emotion and hysteria. Use reason, logic and law to assess the situation.

        It was emotion and hysteria that took us to war in Iraq based on lies of mushroom clouds over the US, and manipulation of UN mandates on containment of Iraq.

        The best we can do for the humanitarian issue is to push for aid deliveries within the country and to the neighbors taking in refugees.

        A hospital in northern Israel, an enemy of Syria, has been treating casualties of the war. They deserve humanitarian aid.

        A half a billion dollars in humanitarian aid would be better  than using the money to create more casualties with a few days of cruise missile attacks to supposedly rap Assad's knuckles.

        It's tragic to have to resort to attacking Syria because Syria attacked Syria.

        When I was on the ground in Vietnam I had no problem with the use of Napalm ... "Smoke the Gooks!" ... there was no moral dilemma for me because the issue was kill the enemy before he kills me. The morality of how we made that happen presents itself later in the form of PTSD.

        Could we have won Vietnam without naplam, white phosporous and agent orange? Not really an issue since the casus beli for the war was based on a lie, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident NEVER happened. Communism, Domino Theory, the slaughter of the French at Dien Bien Phu were the catalysts for going to war in Vietnam, all of which are emotional and hysterical based!

        People get just as dead from HE (high explosive ordinance) as they do from chem wpns.

        Your moral conflict needs to be directed to the use of war to settle conflict, not the conduct of war.

        I choose Peace over War any time the choice is given.

        *Austerity is the opposite of Prosperity*

        by josmndsn on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 10:56:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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