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View Diary: Syria in context (not a rant) (215 comments)

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  •  I loved this diary, but I need to ask you about (7+ / 0-)

    your expertise. I would like to use your diary in my ongoing argument with my husband about American intervention in Syria, but he will ask, very legitimately, why he should accept what you say as accurate.
    Please don't think this is rude -- the tiny bit of knowledge I have about Syria jibes with what you say, but I don't know enough to be sure.
    And I understand you thought the diary was already too long (although it was so interesting, it didn't seem too long to me), but I'd love it if you would write about the Assad regime with the kind of detail and skepticism you applied to the varied groups who are opposing Assad.

    While Democrats work to get more people to vote, Republicans work to ensure those votes won't count.

    by Tamar on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 02:04:58 PM PDT

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    •  i can't help convince your husband either way (55+ / 0-)

      because I remain really torn about US involvement myself.

      This diary was not supposed to be about whether or not we should take action against Assad.  I think the chemical weapons use was significant, and unlike the diary from Kos, I do not feel that all ways of killing are the same. chemical weapons are different, both under international law and for the meaning they convey. You can't spray insecticide on civilians as if they were ants.  That said, I am not convinced that intervening will substantively change the war. If I thought it would, I would support it.  My default setting is considerably more hawkish than most here, and I supported the US intervention in Libya.

      But Syria is not Libya.  I just don't know what to say, because I'm not clear on my own position with regards to intervention just yet.  I need to hear someone articulate a clear pathway to bringing this conflict to a close, and I haven't heard that anywhere so far. I'm not a fan of gestures because we feel we have to do something.

      In terms of my expertise... I studied political geography and have worked in Iraqi Kurdistan, off and on, for two decades, mostly in refugee protection. I used to speak good Arabic but it's very rusty now. I am not an academic.  I visit the region pretty regularly, and know personally, friends on both sides of the Syrian conflict - which also makes it hard to be strongly opinionated when both sides have reasons to be scared of each other. I've been to Syria and Lebanon repeatedly in the last five years, but consider myself more of an expert on Iraq. Regardless of my own history, be skeptical of me and everyone else who claims to be an expert. The more sources the better. I tend to have a pro-Kurdish bias, but have tried to be at least self-aware of that, and I sympathize rather strongly with those in the Sunni Arab minority in Iraq who forswear violence.  I don't have strong biases, I think, in Syria - except for a hope that the country can preserve its multi-ethnic communities.

      “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

      by ivorybill on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 02:33:15 PM PDT

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    •  Please read this article by Phyllis Bennis about (0+ / 0-)

      the reasons not to engage in this illegal war of aggression against the sovereign country of Syria:

      Moral Obscenities in Syria
      The US government is creating a false dichotomy—it’s either a military strike, or we let them get away with it. No one is talking about any other kind of international accountability, nothing like the International Criminal Court. Last month, the White House “law group” noted that arming the rebels might violate international law. Do they think a cruise missile strike is okay? We heard President Obama a couple of days ago refer to international law. He said “if the US goes in and attacks another country without a UN mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it … and those are considerations that we have to take into account.”
      •  Well, whether or not to take military action (0+ / 0-)

        that should be up for debate.  I don't disagree with that.

        But "illegal aggression against the sovereign country of Syria"? That assumes a few things I'm not willing to assume - first and foremost, that the Syrian regime has legitimacy.  A military attack may well be bad policy; but rejecting it because of "Syrian sovereignty" is not a valid reason given that the government is a minority government that came to power in a military coup and which has arguably never actually had a mandate to rule.  "State sovereignty" is a pretty suspect concept under those circumstances, and reflects a bias - pretty common on the left - that nation-state rights (not states rights) trump all else. It's compounded by the fact that the Syrian government has a massive civil war on its hands. So we are talking about illegal aggression against which Syria?  At the moment, there's more than one.

        Legitimacy is not a black and white issue - because a government de-facto controls a country should not render them sovereign.  

        “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

        by ivorybill on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 10:26:03 AM PDT

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