/ Syria again - strong stomachs only

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
Bruce Hooker - on 24 Apr 2013
To all those who go along with the idea of helping the Syrian "moderate" opposition, here's a story about what the "Free Syrian Army" is capable of doing in it's "struggle for democracy":

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22274913

I don't know if cutting the finger of a hostage, kidnapped for money, is considered a legitimate tactic by those like Cameron and on these threads who support these "plucky freedom fighters"... and these are not the most violent fighting the regime, those setting off car-bombs in markets are even worse.

How long before people wake up to what is really going on in the Middle East?
balmybaldwin - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

Agree its a mess, but that doesn't make Assad staying in power the answer. Bad things happen in wars on both sides, it doesn't necessarily mean their causes aren't justified.
Ridge - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

To be fair Bruce, is anyone really 'supporting these plucky freedom fighters' on these threads? I'm sure this Govt, any any other Govt we elect will side with a wide range of murderous psychopaths over the years in the hope of gaining influence, contracts and personal wealth.
Personally I'm of the opinion that conflicts involving shouty blokes with beards with a fondness for yelling "Allah-u-Akbar" are best avoided, as there isn't a 'good' side to support.
dissonance - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Ridge:

> To be fair Bruce, is anyone really 'supporting these plucky freedom fighters' on these threads?

if you dont agree 100% with Bruce then you are clearly 100% on the other side.

> I'm sure this Govt, any any other Govt we elect will side with a wide range of murderous psychopaths over the years in the hope of gaining influence, contracts and personal wealth.

or other services. On the subject of torture there is the comment from CIA officer Bob Baer
"If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear—never to see them again—you send them to Egypt."

Timmd on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

What is really going on?
abzmed on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Timmd:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
>
> What is really going on?


+1
Ridge - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to dissonance:
> (In reply to Ridge)
> or other services. On the subject of torture there is the comment from CIA officer Bob Baer
> "If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear—never to see them again—you send them to Egypt."

Well put.
Al Evans on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: Well in fact the whole of the middle east/ muslim world is primitive/barbaric, but what can the secular west do about it? There is no answer, they are a thousand years and a whole demography behind. We can't just wipe them out, though that would be the easy answer, we just have to live in hope that one day they will see sense.
Bruce Hooker - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Al Evans:

> Well in fact the whole of the middle east/ muslim world is primitive/barbaric, but what can the secular west do about it?

We could stop arming and training the rebels in secret, we could stop (Cameron and Hollande) calling to abandon the arms embargo to supply arms openly, we could stop aiding Turkey help the rebels, we could support Russian initiatives to negotiate a peaceful settlement... there are all sorts of things we could do and stop doing to stop the violence in Syria, but we are doing the opposite.
Bruce Hooker - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Timmd:

Have you watched the BBC video? If you have you know a little bit more... There is loads of information available for anyone interested.
Bruce Hooker - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Ridge:

> To be fair Bruce, is anyone really 'supporting these plucky freedom fighters' on these threads?

Yes, of course there has, just go back and read the threads. Very few posters have defended the idea that the rebels are not basically good guys and the regime is anything but bad. It's true that the vehemence has died down a bit but how many reading this think Assad should remain in power?
dissonance - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> It's true that the vehemence has died down a bit but how many reading this think Assad should remain in power?

good to see you proving my point. I would prefer for him to be gone and its a shame he didnt take the democratic approach back in 2001.
Doesnt mean I approve of all or indeed any of the rebels though.
Bruce Hooker - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to dissonance:

Why do you want him gone? In the context of what this implies at present and in Syria?

The problem is the reality imposes existing alternatives, not the choice between good and bad.
IainRUK - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: Aye.. agree its a mess.. can't see that as an argument for assad.. I think we should offer him anything, even amnesty to walk away... it may be too late now.. another iraq...
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

the choice now seems to be one between different flavours of horror and mayhem. all sides are culpable, and all major powers share blame.

its hard to look at syria with anythihg other than grim pessimism, and an expectation of a generation of bitter and bloody conflict.

MikeTS - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

does anyone know which faction of the free Syrian Army this was?
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Al Evans:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker) Well in fact the whole of the middle east/ muslim world is primitive/barbaric, but what can the secular west do about it? There is no answer, they are a thousand years and a whole demography behind. We can't just wipe them out, though that would be the easy answer, we just have to live in hope that one day they will see sense.

have you joined the BNP Al...?

i hope that post was tongue in cheek, or trolling.
Postmanpat on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:
> (In reply to Al Evans)
> [...]
>
> have you joined the BNP Al...?
>
> i hope that post was tongue in cheek, or trolling.
>
Lefty liberals, doncha just luv 'em.....:)

dissonance - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> Why do you want him gone? In the context of what this implies at present and in Syria?

Lets see, the fact he is a dictator who isnt adverse to torture and severe human rights abuses?
Or are you selective when it comes to when you consider torturing someone is a bad thing?
You will need an extremely strong stomach to read this report, for example.

http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/07/03/syria-torture-centers-revealed

> The problem is the reality imposes existing alternatives, not the choice between good and bad.

It amazes me how someone with such a binary world view can be so arrogant and condescending but you manage it.
Bruce Hooker - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to MikeTS:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
>
> does anyone know which faction of the free Syrian Army this was?

I don't, I just saw the BBC article. It seems pretty clear that this is a less than precise term, more in the minds of journalists than a structured reality. There are also numerous groups of jihadists, even a fair number from Europe apparently:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22277462
Bruce Hooker - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to dissonance:

> Lets see, the fact he is a dictator who isnt adverse to torture and severe human rights abuses?

Just like most rulers in the area then... or do you want humanitarian corridors and armed intervention in Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Qatar etc etc?

A few years ago the attitude that anything is better than doing nothing, but after the experiences of Iraq and Afghanistan maybe we should revise this? Libya and Syria would have been much better if left alone to develop at their own speed.

Over the weekend I spoke to an old friend who had helped in the famous "underground river" project that brought fresh water from under the Saharan desert to the Libyan coast - an amazing project and a monument to the positive aspects of Gaddafi - we bombed it when we bombed the rest of Libya. A few days ago the French embassy in Libya was blown up by "terrorists", the same who applauded French bombers "liberating" Libya not so long ago...

Just "doing something" is not always better than stopping and thinking. This may not have been obvious before, there was an excuse then of ignorance, but now we don't have an excuse.
Rob Exile Ward on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: YOu might think you have an excuse, supporting the invasion of Iraq, quite a lot of us didn't support the (second) invasion) and events proved us correct.

Despite yout trawling of the internet for eveidence of effective conspiracies (note my choice of words), there seems little doubt that Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria are all manifestions of home grown (and diaspora) resistance and dissent. You won't see that though, because that doesn't suit your world view, that everything has to have the stamp of US dirty tricks. We really haven't done very much in any of the countries that you suggest be 'left alone'...
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

i'd tend to agree with you on this bruce. even if a situation looks bad, it can always be made worse.

however, events can sometimes force action, as doing nothing becomes intolerable.

in syria and libya, if i'm right, your view is that the opposition was sponsored by western powers, and not a spontaneous uprising against a despotic regime. if thats correct, then i'd share your analysis, its not been a happy outcome in either place

if it was a genuine spontaneous revolt, then at some point, we may be forced to take sides and intervene, even if that in the short term may make things worse.

either way, its sad. when younger and more naive, and buoyed by the fall of the berlin wall, i used to think that progress was inevitable, and that troubled places would find peace as we developed. having watched yugoslavia, liberia, sierra leone, somalia, colombia, iraq, libya and syria, among others, slide into anarchy and in many cases get lost there for a generation, my faith in our ability to learn how to behave civilly as a species has steadily withered.

gregor
andyathome - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Al Evans:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker) Well in fact the whole of the middle east/ muslim world is primitive/barbaric, but what can the secular west do about it? There is no answer, they are a thousand years and a whole demography behind. We can't just wipe them out, though that would be the easy answer, we just have to live in hope that one day they will see sense.

You, possibly, need to review the history of philosophical and scientific development. Around 600 years ago the Islamic world was actually well in advance of the relatively primitive European nations. But we learnt.

And can you tell me just when we managed to overtake them and become 'civilised' whilst they remained 'primitive/barbaric'?

What is a 'demography behind'?
Cthulhu on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Al Evans:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker) Well in fact the whole of the middle east/ muslim world is primitive/barbaric, but what can the secular west do about it? There is no answer, they are a thousand years and a whole demography behind. We can't just wipe them out, though that would be the easy answer, we just have to live in hope that one day they will see sense.

You really are an odious little bigot. ALL of the Middle East, EVERY Muslim country is barbaric? I know, let's turn the tables a bit. If ALL Muslims are tainted by the actions of a few, then perhaps all washed-up old men who worked in TV should be, too. Which makes it fair game to accuse you of being a kiddie fiddler. It's your own logic. Nasty, isn't it?
Rob Exile Ward on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to andyathome: I do think this point about 600 years ago they were inventing infinity and so on needs to be knocked on the head. It just goes to show how far a culture can decline and reverse when the central myths becomes set in stone, or subverted to enable bitter and frustrated old men to hang on to and then extend their power. This idea that Islam deserves respect because of what Arabs achieve 600 years ago is as absurd as Bruce and and Gudrun's idea that the West should be condemned for what was done by Western Europeans 600 years ago.

And where would you rather live, any place in Europe vs any place in the Middle East? Where would most Arabs prefer to live (and where do most choose to live, when they have a choice?) QED.
dissonance - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> Just like most rulers in the area then... or do you want humanitarian corridors and armed intervention in Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Qatar etc etc?

shall i just send you my password so then you can write my comments for me?
As it stands I would be quite happy to see the lot of them go, of course managing it peacefully and effectively is likely to impossible but its a dream. Like getting some effective changes to our system but there you go.

> A few years ago the attitude that anything is better than doing nothing, but after the experiences of Iraq and Afghanistan maybe we should revise this?

ah so regretting your cheer leading of the invasion of Iraq then?
Strangely enough if the resources and focus had been kept firmly on Afghanistan it might have worked.

> Libya and Syria would have been much better if left alone to develop at their own speed.

You mean have them drop into civil war as they did? Or are you trying to say you feel the entire episode was rigged by the US and co.
In which case for Syria specifically I would be grateful if you would explain why the US turned on a long term ally. I refer you back to a previous comment from me where I referenced a CIA officer mentioning how useful Syria were in the renditions etc.
Even Libya had become an ally of sorts so the motivation to oppose him is not immediately obvious (although admittedly i wouldnt discount childish lets get him now motivation i would have thought it would have been kept in check.
At least until it became clear the balance was against him and providing support quickly might cover up previous support and to try and get on the right side of the new bosses (easier than having to launch another war).

> Just "doing something" is not always better than stopping and thinking. This may not have been obvious before, there was an excuse then of ignorance, but now we don't have an excuse.

A lesson you should learn. Again please dont lecture people at least without trying to get a basic understanding of their position.
dissonance - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to andyathome:

> You, possibly, need to review the history of philosophical and scientific development. Around 600 years ago the Islamic world was actually well in advance of the relatively primitive European nations.

and they were busy invading and massacring people. Not sure of your argument here beyond noting that empires rise and empires fall (as do civilisations).
Oh and to be accurate the peak, intellectually rather than militarily, was from about the 800s to 1200s when they took a hammering from the Mongols.

ice.solo - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

f*cking bbc. the single worst thing that can be done is collect all the groups in this conflict - on both sides - into single, convenient groups and try to explain it that way.
its absoulutely moronic to push a story with no details as to which faction did this (or any other incident).

theres dozens of groups, with dozens of agendas, made of people many of whom have straddled which 'side' they are on, along with who in that 'side' they align to.
both sides have elements within themselves and the opposing side they choose to have dialogue with or focus their agression on.

even the bbc's foreign fighter stories are stupid. yep, theres a bunch of teenage brainwashed jihadists over there, but theres some other, very serious players in there as well (i personally know 3 and they are not on anybodys side).
what f*cks me off is how tabloid agencies like the bbc turn scenarios like this into cowboys and indians and fail to report the elements of conflict that are too mundane and/or complex for their readership to want (without actually upsetting the readership by confronting them with how this conflict is not what they think it may be).

as usual, bruce, i agree with your point but am not sure about your agenda.
Rob Exile Ward on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to ice.solo: What's his point? 'Oh why can't we just do nothing?' Because that seems pretty much to be what we are doing.

I don't think the BBC coverage is as bad you say,listening every morning to the Today programme you never get the impression that the conflict in Syria is two sided or, in fact, that anyone much knows what is going on.

FWIW if we were to intervene I think the best we could hope to do is bring Assad to the negotiating table and draw up a roadmap to some sort of democratic future, but i think we committed ourselves - politically at least - too early to regime change. Although ultimately of course he and the butchers he inherited will have to go.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Postmanpat on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:
> (In reply to ice.solo) What's his point? 'Oh why can't we just do nothing?' Because that seems pretty much to be what we are doing.
>
> I don't think the BBC coverage is as bad you say,listening every morning to the Today programme you never get the impression that the conflict in Syria is two sided or, in fact, that anyone much knows what is going on.
>
It was pretty dire "goodies" and "baddies" stuff for the first few months. They try harder now but, to be fair, how do you explain the complexities in a one minute news spot and who wants to hear it anyway?

In reply to ice.solo: The odd thing is this is just one string in a series of reports Bowen has been doing from Syria over the last few days (his piece on the last "From Our Own Correspondent" is worth listen, about taking his mum and daughter there on holiday a couple of years ago and then how it is now). I suspect the shop keeper in the story wouldn't have known which "brigade" held him, and there are plenty of crooks on both sides just stealing from people. Jahbat al-Nusra clearly got a lot of their popular support in Aleppo (IIRC) for guarding the bakeries and stopping the looting of food stocks for re-sale by groups calling themselves FSA. I don't think anyone who has tried to follow the conflict closely would have any doubt about crimes going on in areas with no police control and plenty of people with guns. Bruce normally quotes the BBC as one of the purveyors of propaganda when they report, say, casualty figures for suburbs being shelled by government forces, but here it actually seems the BBC is showing the breakdown of security for all civilians regardless of what side they support. I don't think we, the BBC editors, Bowen or even the shopkeeper himself know who did it, but the guys still got his finger cut off. It happened because neither side in the conflict is in control. About the only thing positive about it seems to be that they did let him go once they go their money and they "only" cut his finger off. I remember heartbreaking stories from Iraq where families paid, losing everything, and still didn't get their loved one back - only finding a dumped body sometime later.
In reply to Postmanpat:

> It was pretty dire "goodies" and "baddies" stuff for the first few months.

But that's because the early months were mainly typified by mass protests and sometimes rioting, followed by security forces shooting down the protestors. The FSA formed originally with defectors from the military who didn't want to shoot unarmed protestors, and then started shooting back at the army to defend those going out on the protests. What the war is now, wasn't what it was a year ago and definitely not what it was two years ago.
Postmanpat on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Postmanpat)
>
> [...]
>
> But that's because the early months were mainly typified by mass protests and sometimes rioting, followed by security forces shooting down the protestors. What the war is now, wasn't what it was a year ago and definitely not what it was two years ago.
>
Point taken but they got behind the curve for a time. It had become obvious when the fighting proper started that the opposition wasn't just a bunch of Moslem Guardian readers but the BBC was slow to acknowledge it.
In reply to Postmanpat:

Maybe. I think everyone's view of the BBC can differ as well - what's on the 6 o'clock news (or is it 7 these days?), but the BBC for me tends to be World Service news and then selected documentary series on podcasts, so I don't think their coverage was too bad. NYT tends to have more indepth stuff though, and then there are the various academic bloggers if you really want to geek out.
Bruce Hooker - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

> in syria and libya, if i'm right, your view is that the opposition was sponsored by western powers.

Being the real world it was certainly a bit of both IMO... exiled Syrians and their children, diaspora communities can generate a lot of energy, and concerning Libya we know that many were "groomed" in and by the USA, before returning to places in the new "government", that in the East old supporters of the previous king, Idris, had been trying to regain influence for years and there were concentrations of Islamic jihadists in the area too.... it only needed the spark.

In Syria the situation is comparable, no one denies now the role played by foreign, or returning, militants - we've been hearing their accents on the tv since it all began, and now even the USA is playing "concerned" about "extremists" in Syria while at the same time their Qatari and Saudi allies are sending money and arms... It's all a bit of a mixture as always.

My point is that this article, which I didn't trawl for it was there on the BBC site this afternoon so I thought I would "share", is simple proof that the story of black and white we've had for months now has got so blatantly far from the truth that even the bbc feels the need to cover it's arse and allow a glimpse of reality to show through - they have to from time to time or they'd lose their credibility altogether.
ice.solo - on 24 Apr 2013
warning: rant below

its gotta be geeked out, its an important conflict. the EIU, NYT, PSB and SBS are amongst the english language agencies that make the bbc look closer to the mail than anything.
ive dealt with the bbc multiple times ranging from the destruction of the buddhas in bamiyan to the kayin matter in myanmar and the tohoku disaster and across that time they are the slimiest teams to work with. ive seen first hand how they dismiss data and entire scenarios because they dont make good 3min bytes for the f*cking website and have nearly come to blows with film crews because of their attitudes in red zones.

'the bbc is cnn with big words' is a common cliche in reporting circles, as is 'nat geo with a 3min time slot'. they are inconsistant and just as bad at towing a party line as any other general broadcast format agency. not bad for a story but their business is not as an international affairs group like they make out they are.
the top people in foreign correspondancy havent gone to the bbc for at least a decade. they are a blend of war horse reporters and crews either on the way up or the way out, either a nursery school or convalescant home for war correspondants.
some very good people, but not working at their best which is too big a compromise for such events.

they are entry level and its to their own failing that they didnt identify the groups in that 'story'. what an absurd hole to have in such a story, but knowing that the finger-cutting element would put it past many viewers.
to claim quality reporting on such an incident without details of the scenario is story telling, not correspndance. they know they have a huge pseudo-liberal, wannabe-intellectual fan base who want to appear they give a shit enough to be informed, so they carefully craft their reports to that end in the same way the mail or the sun edit out any word longer than 2 syllables.

with any story from any agency ya gotta think: whats the agenda of the broadcaster?
dont suspend this just because its the bbc, or just because you like the words they use. thats the same way assad sells himself, the nusra front sell themselves and every faction sells itself.

syria is a huge problem for reporters (and international application groups) because of its fracturedness and the speed of which alliances form and dissolve.
there are western groups in there trying to work shit out, teams with 35 years of specialty in the region behind them who have seen the results of success and error. the majority of these groups are still within a protracted assessment phase, tho many will tell you the only thing thats abnormal isnt the course of the conflict, its the reporting of it. pre-9/11 this scenario wouldnt have got the attention (indeed syria did have nearly 40 years of unrest 'emergency' with 15 of them in war).
like most places the west storms into, theres decades of sectarianism and pro/anti govt fighting before nato generals show up on the behest of transient prime ministers/presidents.

yes, syria is bad, but groups like the bbc are showing it at a convenient level, not in the context such a complex scenario deserves.


dek - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
A cut off finger?

In the last couple of weeks, I've seen videos of a twelve year old kid, slowly slice of a mans head, who was trussed up on the pavement, using a kitchen knife. All to the FSA cries of Allah akbar.
A group of captured Syrian soldiers, who were cowering with tied hands, machine gunned to death.( Allah akbar again)

An alawite man age about sixty, surrounded, by FSA, suddenly shot in the head, and dumped in a roadside ditch.(more Allah akbar!)
Now today, reports from Israel that they have evidence Assad is using poison gas on civvies, and the FSA. I'm sure even Russia will distance themselves from Assad, but probably not the lunatics in Iran.
ice.solo - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to dek:

good post.

whats not being shown effectively is the ultra-nasty propaganda going about in the zone, of which the stuff you describe + the finger thing will be part.
like the bbc being a branch of team-building propaganda, so is that stuff, tho at different points along the spectrum.

the groups in syria are fighting a resource war as much to win the hearts, minds and territory of the population as to spank their enemies. this extends as far into the 'back end' as you want to take it, to foreign governments and foreign backed groups including wealthy expats that may have the ear of parlimentarians on the other side of the world.

to support a bunch of fighters you need resources and the channels for that are hard to define. you also need fighters as well, and slitting the throat of a hostage unfortunately attracts a certain type of wannabe, as does the promise of water, ammunition, prestige and security. the nasties like assad and the jihadists are well resourced, making huge efforts to direct incoming supplies to their channels and to control smaller groups whose territory these channels bypass.
much of what the foreign application teams in syria and along its borders are doing is dealing with this, but its an incredibly subtle game of chess, as detailed as the form of load-bearing gear the groups get supplied with and the frequency of the technology they use.
its not about giving them weapons, its about what sort off weapons.
Timmd on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to ice.solo:Is it actually propaganda by the BBC, or a possibly inevitable fitering/biasing of events to make a story?

I always think of propaganda as untruths or a distortion of the facts with a purpose behiend it, like to rally a population against a minority, or to convince them the regime they live under is the best they could have things, when that isn't true.

Is it propaganda or just shoddy journalism?
ice.solo - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to Timmd:
> (In reply to ice.solo)
> Is it propaganda or just shoddy journalism?

Its not bad journalism as far as the job being done. The bbc is very well crafted from the ground up. But its bad journalism as far as presenting real data.

What makes that propaganda is a matter of scale - how much it effects the audience.
In the case of the bbc id say its low on the scale as the consumer wont do much besides argue on the web about it, whereas the high level stuff inside places like syria has a more executive effect.

dale1968 - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: well I was awake and posted this http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=547349
BigBrother - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to Timmd:

> I always think of propaganda as untruths

The biggest source of propaganda is the selection of what is reported and what isn't. People's vision of what is happening is completely formed by what the mainstream media reports and discussions like this simply come down to swapping links to stories by the BBC and a few other organisations.

Then most news is now the reporting of claims and reports of other groups ie news agencies, NGOs and other privately owned special interest groups. There is very little truly independent reporting anymore by the organisations that present news. Privately funded NGOs and other special interest groups supply the propaganda and organisations like the BBC feed it to the public. Most of the news reported about Syria is being supplied by rebel groups and the NGOs that supported them.

Much of the reporting on the 'Arab spring' was clearly false and misleading but people keep on believing their 'trusted' news networks.
ice.solo - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to BigBrother:

very good post.
MikeTS - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

>
> How long before people wake up to what is really going on in the Middle East?

The problem seems to be that, in Syria at least, no-one knows what the f*ck is going on and there are few, if any, clearly good guys. (Maybe just bad guys and really evil guys.) The Syrian regime you appear to support has done a lot of evil things. E.g rendition in support of the US government. Remember this guy's terrible story? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maher_Arar
redsonja - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to dek: my god. was the kid doing it of his own accord or being made to do it?
off-duty - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to dek:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
> A cut off finger?
>
> In the last couple of weeks, I've seen videos of...(lots of atrocities)...
>

Why?
dek - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to heidi123:
> (In reply to dek) my god. was the kid doing it of his own accord or being made to do it?

Some of the kids are 'boy soldiers' in the FSA.
MikeTS - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to off-duty:
> (In reply to dek)
> [...]
>
> Why?

My question too. I hope, for your peace of mind, you saw an edited version!
MikeTS - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to dek:
> (In reply to heidi123)
> [...]
>
> Some of the kids are 'boy soldiers' in the FSA.

This is seriously illegal under international law.

Mike Highbury - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to MikeTS:
> (In reply to dek)
> [...]
>
> This is seriously illegal under international law.

Is the FSA bound by 'international law'?

How applicable is international law to it?

dek - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to off-duty:
> (In reply to dek)

> Why?

"Why"?
On RT, Al Jazz, and random web news sites about the ME and Syria.
Amongst all the ongoing horror,The Beeb must think an amputated finger would sufficiently horrify its viewers.
MikeTS - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to Mike Highbury:
> (In reply to MikeTS)
> [...]
>
> Is the FSA bound by 'international law'?

probably not, since this laws seems to be mainly about nation state conflicts and properly organised armies. Most conflicts nowadays seem to outside this umbrella.

>
> How applicable is international law to it?

obviously it would be hard to actually do something about it until if/when they come into power. But in Africa and Yugoslavia these kind of acts have eventually caught up with people.
dek - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to MikeTS:
> (In reply to dek)
> [...]
>
> This is seriously illegal under international law.

Seeing images of 12 yr old kids, smoking, with an AK47 in hand, surrounded by co-rebels, who will enforce any Laws?
off-duty - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to dek:
> (In reply to off-duty)
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
> "Why"?
> On RT, Al Jazz, and random web news sites about the ME and Syria.
> Amongst all the ongoing horror,The Beeb must think an amputated finger would sufficiently horrify its viewers.

That's definitely an answer to "where" but it doesn't really explain "why" you needed to click play.

dek - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to Mike Highbury:
> (In reply to MikeTS)
> [...]
>
> Is the FSA bound by 'international law'?
>
> How applicable is international law to it?
Probably zero. How can they catch up with Jihad tourists from all over the world? They detained a NHS doctor who returned to the UK.
A victim was a wounded photographer, who had images of him.
dek - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to off-duty:
> (In reply to dek)
> [...]
>
> That's definitely an answer to "where" but it doesn't really explain "why" you needed to click play.

It's on foreign TV news channels...geddit?
SteveoS - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

Food for thought in this 6 part mini documentary?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CeP81s1KdM

Distressing when government forces target a hospital.
Timmd on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to dek:
> (In reply to off-duty)
> [...]
>
> It's on foreign TV news channels...geddit?

You didn't know that would happen I guess.
off-duty - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to dek:
> (In reply to off-duty)
> [...]
>
> It's on foreign TV news channels...geddit?

Yep. You are actively seeking out atrocities to watch. Fair enough.
ads.ukclimbing.com
dek - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to off-duty:
> (In reply to dek)
> [...]
>
> Yep. You are actively seeking out atrocities to watch. Fair enough.
Oh, grow the feck up!

In reply to dek: You have in the past cited websites that tend to revel in such vids dek, you know the type like Jihadwatch, that then use this as evidence of what all muslims, everywhere are like.

I used to think it was just lame and unpleasant but after Breivik, there are plenty of questions of how those sorts of sites can radicalise just like pro-AQ sites do.
off-duty - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to dek:
> (In reply to off-duty)
> [...]
> Oh, grow the feck up!

I would like to think I am fairly well informed on Syria and the unholy mess that is now ripping it apart, and I have never had to watch a man's head being sawn off.
I haven't even had to view that live in my day job, let alone doing it for "interest".
MikeTS - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> Jihadwatch, that then use this as evidence of what all muslims, everywhere are like.
>
>

I looked at this for the first time following your 'recommendation'. It's almost as nutty and obsessive as the people it reports on. I loved the story of the Islamic preacher who explained that the recent earthquake in Iran near Busher must have been caused by Israel and the West since God causes earthquakes and he presumably approves of Iran's nuclear weapon development.
Timmd on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to TobyA:

> I used to think it was just lame and unpleasant but after Breivik, there are plenty of questions of how those sorts of sites can radicalise just like pro-AQ sites do.

I agree.
drunken monkey - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to MikeTS: How ironic that an Israeli comes on here and chastise International law breaches in Syria.
biped - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to drunken monkey:


Agree, but lets not drag the thread of course and have it revolve around Israel like just about every other thread on almost every subject on here. And Mike has made positive contributions and observations to this thread, irrespective of his usual.
biped - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to dek) You have in the past cited websites that tend to revel in such vids dek, you know the type like Jihadwatch, that then use this as evidence of what all muslims, everywhere are like.
>
> I used to think it was just lame and unpleasant but after Breivik, there are plenty of questions of how those sorts of sites can radicalise just like pro-AQ sites do.

Well said.
Timmd on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to biped:
> (In reply to drunken monkey)
>
>
> Agree, but lets not drag the thread of course and have it revolve around Israel like just about every other thread on almost every subject on here. And Mike has made positive contributions and observations to this thread, irrespective of his usual.

+1!
Bruce Hooker - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to MikeTS:

> there are few, if any, clearly good guys

I can't disagree with that, it's the "Human condition". I don't deny that the Syrian regime has done bad things, and I don't deny that my country of birth has too and, I hope, you wouldn't deny the same of your country. So having agreed on that (if we have) then what's left is a matter of quantitative differences rather than qualitative ones - not good and bad but shades of grey. My point, basically, is that this has to be applied even to regimes like Syria - seen in it's historical context of centuries of Arab history and in a Middle East where "dictators", or authoritarian princes, were, and still are, the norm it is ridiculous to pretend that Assad is so bad as to justify two or more years of civil war and mass destruction to get rid of him, that gradual change was possible, and preferable.

I don't think this is the same as defending the regime, more defending the lives of the Syrian people, of all sorts. For all it's faults Syria wasn't Saddam's Iraq, it hadn't launched wars like Iraq against Iran which left a million dead. It had against Israel but I don't think this is equivalent, although you perhaps won't agree.

So yes what's going on in Syria is complicated, everyone admitting that on this thread would be for me a very encouraging thing, if they could then track back and wonder if the same wasn't true of Libya then that would be even better but best not too ask too much!

dek - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to dek) You have in the past cited websites that tend to revel in such vids dek, you know the type like Jihadwatch, that then use this as evidence of what all muslims, everywhere are like.
>
> I used to think it was just lame and unpleasant but after Breivik, there are plenty of questions of how those sorts of sites can radicalise just like pro-AQ sites do.

It's 'still' on mainstream TV. Something our cyber policeman doesn't seem to get?!
off-duty - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to dek:
> (In reply to TobyA)
> [...]
>
> It's 'still' on mainstream TV. Something our cyber policeman doesn't seem to get?!

If you are suggesting that mainstream tv are showing atrocities like you suggest then perhaps I need to retune my sky.
MG - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: I think you are misreading people. Does anyone think Syria or Libya simple situations.
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

Bruce, the libya thing- i remember much being made of quotes of gaddafi saying something to the effect that he was going to start killing the inhabitants of ? benghazi in large numbers, not sure what the precise quote was, but it had a suitably blood-curdling turn of phrase.

was this an accurate quote, or has it been distorted and (deliberately) misinterpreted, like ahmedinejad's one about israel?

if it was accurate, it was a tactical misjudgement by gaddafi, as at best it allowed the west the opportunity to intervene, it may even have forced the hands of the west when they may not have wanted to

but having seen how the ahmedinejad quote has been used, i'd be interested to know if that was what he *actually* meant,

cheers
gregor
Bruce Hooker - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to drunken monkey:
> (In reply to MikeTS) How ironic that an Israeli comes on here and chastise International law breaches in Syria.

I was thinking that myself but decided not to say so and watch the thread degenerate when it seemed to be on a positive direction :-)

dek - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to off-duty:
> (In reply to dek)
> [...]
>
> If you are suggesting that mainstream tv are showing atrocities like you suggest then perhaps I need to retune my sky.
Bruce's favourite propaganda station, RT, and Al Jazeera show Syria documentaries on 24hr Freeview.
So far, it's not a crime to watch them, unless you know different?

off-duty - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to dek:

And these Al-Jazeera documentaries show Syrians beheading each other?
dek - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to off-duty:
> (In reply to dek)
>
> And these Al-Jazeera documentaries show Syrians beheading each other?
Why don't you view for yourself, and then decide?

ice.solo - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to biped:
> (In reply to drunken monkey)
>
>
> Agree, but lets not drag the thread of course and have it revolve around Israel like just about every other thread on almost every subject on here. And Mike has made positive contributions and observations to this thread, irrespective of his usual.

+2.

mike is one of the less dogmatized contributors hereabouts. his, or anybody elses, nationality isnt central to the argument.
its not like any of our other governments have clean slates in regards to syria either.

off-duty - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to dek:
> (In reply to off-duty)
> [...]
> Why don't you view for yourself, and then decide?

Because from my viewing of both Al-Jazeera and Russia Today (and my knowledge of both of those programmes) I would be very surprised if they showed the atrocities you describe.
I'm happy to be proved wrong though - I'm sure you can provide the links to the documentaries on their easily accessible websites.
dissonance - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker) I think you are misreading people. Does anyone think Syria or Libya simple situations.

the only one who seems to take a simplistic view is Bruce.
For example how he does his best to ignore that both Libya and Syria were either allies or becoming so for the US etc which knackers his western powers plotting to overthrow the governments line. Syria in particular providing some handy outsourcing for torture for the US rendition program.
Morgan Woods - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:
>
> And where would you rather live, any place in Europe vs any place in the Middle East? Where would most Arabs prefer to live (and where do most choose to live, when they have a choice?) QED.

well put....i'm sure the guys burning american flags on the news would quite happily accept a green card if offered.
In reply to dek: I think RT can be pretty terrible at times, but did they really show a beheading video!?

There is lots of terrible footage coming out of Syria. You can watch people die on Youtube everyday, but its really hard for non-Arabic speakers to get any sense of where/when/why from most of clips.

The NYT's Syria video site is very good at trying to do that http://projects.nytimes.com/watching-syrias-war but I'm struck by how much they say they don't know too.

BTW to no one in particular; I watched the Olly Lambert's film today that I think was the one ice.solo was referring to earlier. It went out in the UK on C4 and in the US on PBS. http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/episode-guide/series-126/episode-1

Very worth watching for anyone with an interest.
dek - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to TobyA:
Google is your friend.
Also reported by the independent, and other press.
Btw, I'm not posting a link, as it's disgusting!
off-duty - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to dek:
> (In reply to TobyA)
> Google is your friend.
> Also reported by the independent, and other press.
> Btw, I'm not posting a link, as it's disgusting!

RT and Al-Jazeera DID NOT show this video.
If you choose to click through a link to see a graphic video of an atrocity that is described in detail in text then you are not - as you attempted to suggest - "watching it during a documentary" but you are actively seeking out atrocities to watch.

Fine. Whatever floats your boat.
Bruce Hooker - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to dissonance:
> (In reply to MG)
> [...]

> For example how he does his best to ignore that both Libya and Syria were either allies or becoming so for the US etc which knackers his western powers plotting to overthrow the governments line.

I haven't ignored this at all, especially for Libya. The way the West pretended to have "taken Libya back into the fold" just before shafting them is something I've commented on many times... I think your aptitude at "straw man" arguing is quite remarkable.

I have been arguing constantly for years against the black and white view expressed by many, including yourself, on both Gaddafi and Assad. Anyway, the important thing is that you and others appear to be finally admitting that there are several hues of grey involved... too late for Libya, and pretty late for Syria, but maybe early enough to influence public opinion on Iran if this change of heart reflects public opinion to any extent. I hope so but I'm not convinced, a swallow doesn't make Spring.
dek - on 25 Apr 2013
In reply to off-duty:
Nope, you're wrong again Sherlock. It was shown on TV, despite your disbelief. The telly does not have a 'click through for atrocities' function.
off-duty - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to dek:
> (In reply to off-duty)
> Nope, you're wrong again Sherlock. It was shown on TV, despite your disbelief. The telly does not have a 'click through for atrocities' function.

Fair enough. I am surprised. And fairly confident you aren't going to suggest a link to the "documentary". RT or Al-Jazeera?
And I take it all other atrocities were similarly observed "accidentally" whilst watching TV...
off-duty - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to dek:
> (In reply to off-duty)
> Nope, you're wrong again Sherlock. It was shown on TV, despite your disbelief. The telly does not have a 'click through for atrocities' function.

In fact given that the apologies that have been issued in the past when Al-Jazeera have been accused of showing beheadings - I guess that leaves RT. I'll go with TobyA on this one.
dek - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to off-duty:
> (In reply to dek)
> [...]
>
> Fair enough. I am surprised. And fairly confident you aren't going to suggest a link to the "documentary". RT or Al-Jazeera?
> And I take it all other atrocities were similarly observed "accidentally" whilst watching TV...
Sherlock, I hope your forensics repertoire, amounts to more than 'guilty by association'?
Just how did MI5, miss out on you?


off-duty - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to dek:
> (In reply to off-duty)
> [...]
> Sherlock, I hope your forensics repertoire, amounts to more than 'guilty by association'?
> Just how did MI5, miss out on you?

That doesn't really make sense.
If you don't understand the implications of my last posts - I don't believe you saw it on Al Jazeera TV - as it has previously been falsely accused of showing beheadings, and I don't believe you saw it on RT - supported in part by TobyA's knowledge of that station.
What also suggests that your assertion is untrue is the fact that you initially suggest you saw it in a documentary, however the only reference you can supply is "google it". The only results I can find following a cursory search of those websites are news stories that very clearly do not show graphic details of the atrocities, but in the case of RT might provide a link.

I suggested you were actively seeking o. ut footage of atrocities. Other than your bald assertion the only evidence you can bring to the table is reference to news stories on the web which clearly don't display the detail you would expect of the video you describe if the story was culled from a broadcast.
When that is coupled to the fact that these videos arel/were available on YouTube and on other websites that you have previously referenced in other threads then it does suggest that your source of atrocity footage is the internet, rather than just the repeated bad luck of seeing footage that is significantly worse than the normal level of content on those channels.

As I said, I get paid to see enough horrible stuff in my day job without needing to watch, in my spare time, somebody be horrifically executed in a propaganda video to inform my knowledge of the situation in Syria.
MikeTS - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to biped:
> (In reply to drunken monkey)
>
>Mike has made positive contributions and observations to this thread,


I'm glad I'm being recognised at last as the epitome of reasonable, rational and fact based argument on UKC.

Bruce Hooker - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to thread:

Just as I had the impression that a little more rationality was getting into the way the Syrian situation is treated by the media they seem to have found a loophole to justify intervention - accusations of the use of chemical weapons!

For those who haven't been following this a few weeks ago the Syrian government accused the rebels of using gas filled munitions they had taken from a captured arms stock and invited the UN to come and investigate... The UN wriggled out by insisting that any investigation would have to be nationwide, not just at the one place concerned. As usual the Syrian "Free Army" subsequently claimed that the government forces were responsible, as they do after each car bomb and similar atrocity.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22305444
MG - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to thread)
>
> Just as I had the impression that a little more rationality was getting into the way the Syrian situation is treated by the media they seem to have found a loophole to justify intervention - accusations of the use of chemical weapons!
>

Chemical weapons are a loophole now? I recall many posts from you railing against people wearing poppies as you regarded that as supporting the use of chemical weapons in WW1, which you viewed as utterly terrible. It is difficult to keep up with your views.
ice.solo - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

what i heard was that the rebels used chlorine gas which isnt banned by the geneva convention, whereas the govt has used sarin, which is.

but, yeah, its all a bit sketchy - on every side - and only further deepends the hole.
dissonance - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> I have been arguing constantly for years against the black and white view expressed by many, including yourself, on both Gaddafi and Assad. Anyway, the important thing is that you and others appear to be finally admitting that there are several hues of grey involved

Bruce the only black and white view is yours (since Gudrun doesnt seem to be gracing us with her presence on this thread).

Your ability to project your failings onto others really is impressive.
AJM - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
> [...]
>
> Chemical weapons are a loophole now? I recall many posts from you railing against people wearing poppies as you regarded that as supporting the use of chemical weapons in WW1, which you viewed as utterly terrible. It is difficult to keep up with your views.

Look, obviously if you believe that accusations of chemical weapon use by the security forces are anything other than propaganda cover for their indiscriminate use by the western imperialists and their puppets in the gangs of armed terrorists you are either brainwashed or a warmongering stooge of the western powers.
MG - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to dissonance:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
>
> [...]
>
> Bruce the only black and white view is yours

Yes. The trouble is it's black and white in the sense that a QR code is black and white - random blobs all over the place.


dissonance - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to ice.solo:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
>
> what i heard was that the rebels used chlorine gas which isnt banned by the geneva convention, whereas the govt has used sarin, which is.

Chlorine does have valid uses so isnt banned outright but I thought its use as a weapon would fall under the Geneva convention.
MikeTS - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to thread)
>
accusations of the use of chemical weapons!
>


Big discussions in Israel today about this. Brig Gen Brun said at a Tel Aviv uni conference there had been 2 incidents on March 19, one near Aleppo and one near Damascus. In Jordan they say British agents smuggled out samples of Sarin that had been used.

Whether true of not is very unclear. The question is why make such an announcement? Israel is not going to gain by Assad losing power since a replacement would probably be even worse than the current regime for Israel. Yet this announcement seems to be supporting the case for Western intervention against Assad.

One explanation is that Western intervention would also be a signal to Iran.
In reply to dissonance:

> Chlorine does have valid uses so isnt banned outright but I thought its use as a weapon would fall under the Geneva convention.

I think it is too. I'm pretty certain there was a case where the LTTE tried using it against a Sri Lankan army base back in the 90s (not certain of the date), but the gas rolled back on their own positions so they never tried again. Damaged industrial facilities are another possibility to weapons usage.

In reply to TobyA: OK, this article http://edition.cnn.com/2013/03/24/world/meast/syria-chemical-weapons notes that chlorine is banned under CWC of 1997, but doesn't one of the Geneva conventions outlaw "choking agents" or some term like that?

I know JP Zanders who is cited in the CNN article - he's a proper CBRN geek with a technical background, so when he says you can't put enough chlorine in one rocket to kill that many people, I'd believe it.
ice.solo - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to TobyA:

annoyingly i cant recall the news agency i heard that thru as it was on NHKs world news edition, so i blame myself for a shonky bit of 'info'.
would require more research before becoming reliable, but it may explain the hesitation by the UN to investigate.
In reply to ice.solo: There are lots of agencies reporting the claim of chlorine use from the Syrian govt. I guess that's not in dispute, but the evidence for it is far from clear.
ice.solo - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to TobyA:

my impression was it was chlorine by the rebels then sarin by the govt.
Bruce Hooker - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to MG:

> It is difficult to keep up with your views.

Especially if you invent them as you go along!

PS. Read again, the loophole is accusing the government of using chemical weapons, the famous Obama "red line" (for the USA to speak of red lines after what they have done is quite rich too), at a time when the press is turning to a more nuanced view of the situation and admitting that the "rebels" might not be the nice guys they were built up to be beforehand.

Clearly some crew-cut wiz-kid has noticed the swing, scraped around for a counter measure and noticed the weeks old controversy of someone using, or accused of using, rockets with chemical war-heads. Who did this matters not a jot as the evidence is long gone and witnesses can always be found.
Bruce Hooker - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to dissonance:

> Bruce the only black and white view is yours

If you can honestly read what I've posted on this thread and say that is shows a black and white view then either we have a different idea of "black and white" or "honestly".
In reply to Bruce Hooker: Bruce, as ever, you have your rather, ahem, "unique" way of seeing things. Here we see the US administration further avoiding getting involved. The Israelis claimed chemical weapons have been used, whilst the Obama admin. is briefing that the there is a "low degree of certainty" on the intelligence - i.e. "the spies can't agree, so we're not going to do anything". Already some on the right in US are denouncing Obama for again being 'weak' for his unwillingness to start pounding someone, somewhere in Syria.
Bruce Hooker - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to TobyA:

I hope you are right but as your record regarding Syria (not being next in line after Libya - I predicted it would be) I am not totally reassured. The chemical weapons red line smells very much like the WMD one.

Time will tell!

While we are waiting we can only muse about what a difference the change of attitude of Russia and China made - the Western block may be weaker than it's mathematical military strength makes it appear, which is encouraging amongst so much human tragedy.
Bruce Hooker - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

More confirmation of US training of Syrian rebels in Jordan, and of salafist efforts in parallel, although for most this may be old hat:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22285555

ice.solo - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
>
> More confirmation of US training of Syrian rebels in Jordan, and of salafist efforts in parallel, although for most this may be old hat:
>
> http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22285555

not just the US providing services. similar reports of the same thing happening in adana, turkey. tho they seem a bit more impressed with the quality of it.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19124810
Gudrun - on 27 Apr 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

> It may even have forced the hands of the west when they may not have wanted to

No!!!!!!...Extreme nonsense ALERT and purile niavity warning!!!

We could intervene in many places that are **not** on behalf of our *pals* so don't give us the "forced " BS,because your peddling your papers again now NMSG !
Gudrun - on 27 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

My hopes are with the secular Syrian anti-western imperialists as well as Iran,China, Russia and all the other allies in their war against the Arab Dictatorships supported by the disgusting war criminals of the NATO alliance.

Now Hague that walking lollipop is saying Bashar is using chemical weapons....i wonder if Dubya told him about the WMD hoax success in fooling practically everyone, because the government/corporations/military/media is what we are constantly brainwashed to believe.Who else is there? oh yeah thank god for Telesur,SANA,Press TV and RT
ice.solo - on 27 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

and of course dont forget those sons-of-bitches on the other side of iran who give us a good idea of what its like when the wrong team gets power.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22311036
In reply to ice.solo: But they are anti-imperialists so OK I guess for Gudrun at least.
off-duty - on 27 Apr 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to ice.solo) But they are anti-imperialists so OK I guess for Gudrun at least.

To be fair, she did say "secular". A few commas might have helped because I assume she isn't supporting the imperialists ;-)
Still it's a nice black and white view from our comrade in the North ;-)
Bruce Hooker - on 27 Apr 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to ice.solo) But they are anti-imperialists so OK I guess for Gudrun at least.

Come on now, no need to sink so low, you know very well she doesn't support the Taliban or islamist extremists.
MikeTS - on 27 Apr 2013
In reply to Gudrun:
(In reply to Bruce Hooker)
>
> My hopes are with the secular Syrian anti-western imperialists as well as Iran,China, Russia

Interesting that all your heroes are 'anti-western imperialists' and 'anti dictatorships', but themselves are dictatorships and imperialist powers. Syria has a history of aspirations to take over Jordan, Israel and Lebanon, Iran to 'regain' Shiite areas like Bahrain, China of course conquered Tibet and tried for Vietnam, and Russia (under the Tsar and Communism) has a long imperialist history.
Simon4 - on 27 Apr 2013
In reply to BigBrother:

> The biggest source of propaganda is the selection of what is reported and what isn't. People's vision of what is happening is completely formed by what the mainstream media reports and discussions like this simply come down to swapping links to stories by the BBC and a few other organisations.

Don't for a moment disagree with this, in addition to what is reported, the tone and intensity of reporting varies widely with what one might think was its objective importance. In reality, most people either lack the time or inclination to hunt down the objective data, even when that is freely available. A good example of this is the current moral panic over MMR, where it is clear that a real though comparatively trivial epidemic, with genuine but minor adverse effects is being inflated into something resembling the black death, while a low risk but needlessly overloaded vaccine is having drops in morbidity and mortality attributed to it that it was clearly not responsible for, given that all these improvements came well before the triple existed. Emphasis and slant is all, the MMR panic fits certain agendas.

>
> Then most news is now the reporting of claims and reports of other groups ie news agencies, NGOs and other privately owned special interest groups. There is very little truly independent reporting anymore by the organisations that present news. Privately funded NGOs and other special interest groups supply the propaganda and organisations like the BBC feed it to the public.

It is tempting to suspect that the level and accuracy of reporting has to do with :

1) quantities of 5 star hotels for journalists to stay in within the relevant region, while fiddling their expenses (not necessarily too close - here is our special correspondent reporting about Syria from his room in Istanbul "the local media are reporting"
2) how genuinely dangerous/easy/escapable it is for media persons to operate in the country concerned
3) if the crisis/castastrophe/war fits into some pre-existing agenda, so matches the expectations of particular audiences
4) how similar the people involved are to us, so how much we really identify with their plight, rather than tokenistic mouthings about populations we have little in common with and don't really care much about

> Much of the reporting on the 'Arab spring' was clearly false and misleading but people keep on believing their 'trusted' news networks.

There certainly does seem to have been quite a frost in Spring! But quite why anyone expected much different is not clear, obviously the old stale, brutal, heavy-handed dictatorships imposed stability of a sort, while allowing no opposition if they could possibly suppress it, so "apres moi la deluge" was more or less guaranteed. There was no coherent opposition, because none was allowed, while those who were opposed were more concerned with staying alive/out of brutal jails than thinking of how they would actually like their societies to run. The concept of "her majesties loyal opposition" does not seem to have made it to Arab societies (no matter what we might think of our own "loyal opposition").

Quite apart from the demographic and other real, hard-to-solve challenges to most Arab mediterranean littoral countries more or less guaranteed that the most intelligent, most far-sighted, best organised governments in the world would be very hard put to manage things, let alone the ones they had or any that they are likely to get, so why anyone imagined (if they did - Bruce's introduction is clearly a massive straw-man), that a successful, prosperous, pluralist liberal democracy would follow is a mystery.

Despite your general point, however, the only sources of information about a such a bitter brutal conflict are likely to be of this sort, fragmentary, agenda-loaded with large amounts of rumour and hearsay. But with massive and destructive conflicts like that going on in Syria currently, what alternative do we have to be somewhat informed about them, other than ignoring them more or less completely (which does seem to have "worked" with for example the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka, which is now as little mentioned as the Armenian genocide, and attracted far less attention than that at the time).

History may in the past have been "a self-serving account of events written by the victors", and now "a rapidly and widely distributed collection of emotionally loaded manipulation supplied by the media savvy", but what else is there?
Bruce Hooker - on 27 Apr 2013
In reply to MikeTS:

I don't think you can put the sins of the fathers on Russia, at present most of the old empire is independent. As for China, where it's frontiers end is a historical debate which doesn't only concern Tibet, vast other areas have been part of or China or not over the centuries, thousands, of years that China has existed and the same can be said of Iran/Persia so today they are no more imperialist than France, Germany, Italy and others, and don't even have distant possessions like Britain, France, the USA etc.

Concerning Syria itself, this was all part of the Ottoman Empire until WW1 and the area referred to as Syria once went right down to much of Palestine. I just re-read The Seven Pillars of Wisdom in which Lawrence give a long detailed description of what was called Syria at that time - Damascus was still the capital but it was a far larger area (Israel didn't exist and he hardly mentions any Jewish presence BTW, there were so few) so to call Syria "imperialist" seems to stretch the meaning of the word quite a bit - Israel still holds part of the modern, much reduced, country called Syria so they are colonised more than colonisers.

To say Gudrun's "heroes" are more imperialists than Western countries, in particular the USA, is unreasonable... Just look at the enormous US military presence in the area, thousands of miles from it's frontiers, none of the countries you mention have even the tiniest fraction of such overseas offensive military power.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Rob Exile Ward on 27 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: 'To say Gudrun's "heroes" are more imperialists than Western countries, '

Nobody did. Why don't you read posts before replying to them?
MikeTS - on 27 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to MikeTS)
>
>o to call Syria "imperialist" seems to stretch the meaning of the word quite a bit

It's interesting that you seem to somewhat approve of old lines on the map as justifying later national aspirations.
MikeTS - on 27 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to MikeTS)
>
he hardly mentions any Jewish presence BTW, there were so few)

In Jerusalem, by mid-19th Jews were the largest group and about the time he was there they were becoming the majority. And also Lawrence came via Jordan - Allenby and his army came up the coastal plain where the Jewish centres were like Tel Aviv

So Jews were there. He just didn't report them, for whatever reason..
Bruce Hooker - on 27 Apr 2013
In reply to MikeTS:

Before the Zionist movement got stared there were about 30 to 50000 Jews in all of Palestine, according to which source you take, but if we get into this we will spoil the thread.

Concerning the borders in the region until it's demise all of this was under the Ottoman Empire, spilt into administrative units which changed over the centuries, in size and position and even the name given to them so they are only of historic interest. Their population was also spilt up according to religion in it's relationship with the Imperial power, so talking in terms of nation states in the modern sense is not very useful.

The notion of a greater Syria is of no more modern day value than that of greater Israel, even if some demagogues try to use both. The Arabs that Lawrence helped to lead were heading for Damascus, which they saw as their capital, even if Mecca was where the revolt started from. Jerusalem was a side issue but Mesopotamia fell within what they saw as their world.

More restrictive national boundaries came later and were the inventions of British and French governments, set out in the infamous Sykes/Picot agreement, with the later imposition of the Israeli borders superimposed on these largely artificial borders. Syrian is just one of the nation states that emerged and is probably as good as any other - I can't see what could be gained by changing borders in the midst the present turmoil anyway.
Bruce Hooker - on 27 Apr 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

> Nobody did. Why don't you read posts before replying to them?


MikeTS - 10:53 Sat
Rob Exile Ward on 27 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: No Bruce, what he said at 10:53 Sat was that other powers were imperialists as well - he didn't say that they were more imperialist, which is what you said he said and rather different.

You either do this misquoting because you're stupid, and simply don't understand words very well, or you're lying, to make a point. Which is it?
Bruce Hooker - on 27 Apr 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

You really are a bit of a boring pedant these days! I remember when you posted interesting things... digestive problems?

Why not let Mike complain for himself if he is upset? His meaning is clear enough, as was my reply. He is comparingthese countries, none of which can be classified as imperialist, with countries that really are, have bases and armaments all over the planet. It's not at all reasonable to do this, so I'll stick with what I said and if you want to change "more" for "as" then do so, it won't change the very obvious point I was making.
MikeTS - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to Simon4:

Great post!!!
MikeTS - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to Rob Exile Ward)

> Why not let Mike complain for himself if he is upset?

As the new rational, reasonable, and fact-based MikeTS, I meant that Syria, Iran, Russia and China ALSO have imperialistic histories and aspirations.

To expand, imperialism seems to comes in many flavour. Russian and Chinese imperialism was/is expansion at the periphery to take in other cultures and nationalities. Syrian and Iranian to recapture 'past glories'. French and American to spread a culture (French and Gauloise / democracy and capitalism). British imperialism was basically mercantile: more markets and resources.
Bruce Hooker - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to MikeTS:

> I meant that Syria, Iran, Russia and China ALSO have imperialistic histories and aspirations.

Fair enough on the histories but do they still have aspirations? I'd say that both China an Russia are on the defensive in territorial terms, China in particular feels and is menaced on it's Western frontiers and has trouble stabilising not only Tibet but also other provinces nearby. It doubtless blames Western efforts behind it's problems there, both from islamists financed and encouraged by Arabian states, all close allies of the USA, and in Tibet by the exiled feudal relics who surround the Dali Lama, again with USA encouragement that went as far as armed rebellion in the past.

Russia is still pulling itself together from the fall of the USSR, I don't know if they have even regained the population they lost at that time and I can't see them as any offensive threat to the West or their neighbours, even though they clearly feel able to take a more independent line than a few years ago - as in Syria today.

Both obviously strive to obtain access to world markets of raw materials but have, over recent years, done this by peaceful means - I don't think either have the will or the power to revert to open imperialist tactics - even setting up military bases in friendly countries. Compare this with the enormous spread of Western (mostly US) military power outside their frontiers and marine zones and it's objectively pretty obvious which block is imperialist and which may have been historically but isn't today.

NB. I haven't mentioned Israel to avoid destroying the thread but that doesn't mean I've changed my views on the colonial nature of your country, alas, but I wll try, like you, to be reasonable.
MikeTS - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

I think I have broader view of imperialism. It doesn't only include military action, in my view. And aspirations I agree is a bit vague.

But in Russia, for example, there is a word that apparently translates as 'near abroad', which includes aspirations to get countries like Belarus which are 'really' Russia back in the fold. And China's economic policy in Africa would definitely be called 'neo-colonialism' if a Western country did it.
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to MikeTS:
> (In reply to Simon4)
>
> Great post!!!

Well, apart from the conflation of the political situation in the Middle East with one of his hobby horses, MMR.

Never mind the emotive language deployed to create a skewed picture of the reality, a post that tries to suggest there are some parallels between an outbreak of an infectious disease in Wales and e disintegration of a sovereign state into violent anarchy 2000 miles away is deeply flawed, and really tells us more about the poster than the subjects being discussed

Cheers
Gregor
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

The view of empire as one of military boots on ground and governors running large parts of the world on behalf of the imperial power is a very 19th century one.

There are ways of projecting power that are much more flexible, cheaper and effective in the 21st century than sending 10s of thousands of soldiers to a country. Controlling energy resources, water resources and financial resources are the 21 st century approach, and in those Russia and china have resumed Their historical status as superpowers.

The fact that they have no bases in Ukraine will come as scant consolation to Ukrainians when Putin decides to turn off the gas supplies again, and chinas massive investment in Africa isn't a purely humanitarian venture,

This isn't to claim that they are better, or worse than the west, just that empire is what people do, and always have done,

Cheers

Gregor
MikeTS - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:
> (In reply to MikeTS)
> [...]
>
> Well, apart from the conflation of the political situation in the Middle East with one of his hobby horses, MMR.
>


Well I thought it was funny! Sorry, won't laugh next time.
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to MikeTS:

Sorry- reading it back, my post was a bit humourless and blunt.

And, I actually think simons analysis of Syria was very interesting and rang true.

Cheers

Gregor
Bruce Hooker - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

> cheaper and effective in the 21st century than sending 10s of thousands of soldiers to a country.

And yet that's exactly what the USA and it's lap-dogs are doing at this very minute! If you google "USA military bases", for example, you'll find 119 000 000 results in (0.21 seconds).

Although nice people prefer to speak of neo-colonialism, the plain vanilla form of colonialism is still alive and kicking, albeit in a slightly modernised form.
Dan_S - on 29 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> And yet that's exactly what the USA and it's lap-dogs are doing at this very minute! If you google "USA military bases", for example, you'll find 119 000 000 results in (0.21 seconds).
>

And your point is? That number refers to the number of web pages using your search phrase, not the actual number of bases.....

no_more_scotch_eggs - on 29 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

And if you Google '911 conspiracy' you get 48 800 000 hits, but that doesn't mean that the twin towers were downed by shape shifting lizards with space lasers...

Suggest you also Google 'non sequitur'...

;-)

Anyway, that's beside the point, I'm not disagreeing with you, just suggesting a broader perspective. There have been people building empires for as long as there have been people. The urge to control more resources for 'your' people, or prevent rivals depriving 'your' people of them, is part of human nature. And the means this is accomplished will depend on the tools available and the wider political context.

America has lots of high tech weapons, and money, and so takes one approach. Russia is rich in hydrocarbons and surrounded by states that depend on them (including us now...), so takes another. China has vast reserves of money, so chooses a third way.

That doesn't make any better or worse, but don't mistake a lack of military bases for benevolence and absence of ambition to project influence and secure access to resources,

Best wishes

Gregor
Rob Exile Ward on 29 Apr 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs: 'And, I actually think simons analysis of Syria was very interesting and rang true.'

...even if the conclusion did have a bit of the Sybil Fawlty about it:-)

Bruce Hooker - on 29 Apr 2013
In reply to Dan_S:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
>
> [...]
>
> And your point is? That number refers to the number of web pages using your search phrase, not the actual number of bases.....

Of course not but it does show there is not much excuse for not knowing about the gigantic world wide implantation of machinery of death and intimidation which exists today, infinitely more powerful than in the days of the real physical empires of Britain, France etc.

I can assure you that few, if any of these hits, are to articles saying that the rumours of such bases are greatly exaggerated :-)

Bruce Hooker - on 29 Apr 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

> America has lots of high tech weapons, and money, and so takes one approach. Russia is rich in hydrocarbons and surrounded by states that depend on them (including us now...), so takes another. China has vast reserves of money, so chooses a third way.

It's not only Russia that has hydrocarbons, are Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Venezuela etc imperialists too.

China has vast amounts of our money, earned by selling us their products - does that make them imperialists? Should they refuse to sell us their goods to avoid criticism?

Come on now, these arguments are pathetic, based on an inability to see wrong at home and right abroad... and once again this is pulling a thread off it's subject - ie. The greater and greater proof that those our governments are supporting in Syria may not be people we should be supporting.
dissonance - on 29 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> Fair enough on the histories but do they still have aspirations? I'd say that both China an Russia are on the defensive in territorial terms, China in particular feels and is menaced on it's Western frontiers and has trouble stabilising not only Tibet but also other provinces nearby.

yes strange that. Take over places based on flimsy pretext and the locals get upset. Now where have we seen that before?

Oh and as for defensive not sure Vietnam, Japan, Phillipines and Malaysia would agree.
dissonance - on 29 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> And yet that's exactly what the USA and it's lap-dogs are doing at this very minute! If you google "USA military bases", for example, you'll find 119 000 000 results in (0.21 seconds).

since i mistyped here it is rewritten.

probably not. Since the search results will be modified on your past history and also your location.
However lets try, using Russia as the comparison and also with and without quotes.
USA Military Bases - 247,000,000
"USA Military Bases" - 2,390,000
Russia Military Bases - 4,090,000
"Russian Military Bases' - 2,080,000

So there we have it with the most accurate variant, using quotes (without it just means are in the same document), are competitive.
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 29 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

I guess in large part this comes down to the definition you take of 'imperialist', Bruce. I'd say it involves projecting power onto other states, such that the choices they take are altered or constrained by the 'imperial' power, for the benefit of the 'imperial' power.

That has always been done by a combination of diplomacy and the threat of, or actual use of, force. The increasing financial interconnected ness and energy reliant world offers other levers for 'imperial' nations to pull.

By that measure, Saudi Arabia clearly is, as it is active in shaping the politics of other countries in the region, as is Iran- but then it always has been, back to the time of darius.

And china is clearly putting its fabulous wealth to good use with good works in the developing world, which will come with strings attached and obligations to be honoured.

these are just observations of the way the world is, not value judgements. A multipolar world with a strong china and russia, and a strong Europe, and soon a strong india and brazil, is arguably a better place than one where one nation has hegemony. As long as they are able to solve their differences through compromise and diplomacy of course.

There is right, and wrong, at home and abroad, and no nation has a monopoly on virtue or vice. Im sure youre perfectly aware of this, and wouldnt suggest that there was. Framing the debate in terms that suggest that that's what others are suggesting isn't very useful.

I think the broader definition of 'imperialism' is helpful, as it helps show that this is something that all major powers do, and moves the debate on from good guys vs bad guys to a more rational assessment of the ranges of things that states do to get their way and stack the deck in their favour. The projection of power is never very pretty to look at whoever is doing it, but it's what people do, and needs to be coldly assessed in that light irrespective of who I'd doing the projecting.

As for Syria, I've said what I think already, and don't disagree with you. It's a miserable situation with no good guys, and the worlds major powers are all intent on playing out their games of influence with each other using the people of the country as pawns. A thoroughly depressing situation, from every angle, with no good outcome in sight


Best wishes

Gregor
Bruce Hooker - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to dissonance:

How many external Russian military bases are there throughout the world? I can think of one, and it's only really port facilities.
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to dissonance)
>
> How many external Russian military bases are there throughout the world? I can think of one, and it's only really port facilities.

There are various in former USSR states, like Sevastopol (UKR) and various airbases in central Asia. The more problematic ones are in disputed territories like Transnistria and those breakaway bits of Georgia.
Bruce Hooker - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to TobyA:

And outside the ex-USSR? How many are there at equivalent distances to those of the USA?

Back to the subject, here's an article from the New York Times which says much the same as I've been saying about who the rebels really are:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/28/world/middleeast/islamist-rebels-gains-in-syria-create-dilemma-for...

"Across Syria, rebel-held areas are dotted with Islamic courts staffed by lawyers and clerics, and by fighting brigades led by extremists. Even the Supreme Military Council, the umbrella rebel organization whose formation the West had hoped would sideline radical groups, is stocked with commanders who want to infuse Islamic law into a future Syrian government.

Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of."

My underlining.
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

Hi Bruce,

once again, you appear to wish to play the role of humpty dumpty-

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to ..."

so imperialism is what America does, but as Russia's bases and bullying of neighbours is largely (give or take a polonium based assassination) confined to its former actual empire, then that's not imperialism. or something. to be fair, its not entirely clear what you are trying to argue...

and re: syria- who is it on the thread that *is* arguing that the rebels are some sort of saintly freedom fighters, led by a latter day luke skywalker, using the force to defeat the dastardly darth bashar...?

pretty much everyone seems to think they are a heterogeneous bunch, including some genuinely unpleasant pieces of work, and is pessimistic about the chances of syria being anything other than a protracted bloodbath with atrocities being committed by all sides.

but aside from creating straw men to spar with, what is *your* prescription for the future of syria? how do they rescue such a grim situation and put back together some sort of functioning nation?

best wishes
gregor

Bruce Hooker - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

> so imperialism is what America does, but as Russia's bases and bullying of neighbours is largely (give or take a polonium based assassination) confined to its former actual empire, then that's not imperialism.

It's a question of degree, have a look at the relative economic size of Russia and the USA, it's quite minor country since the fall of the Communist system... it is incapable of being imperialist on the same level as the USA even if it wanted to be. The USA, on the other hand, is the most powerful economy in the world and has by far the most powerful armed forces, high-tech logistic and information support and exerts its colossal power to defend its selfish interests to an extent that others can only dream of.

I can see that you are nigh on hard wired to only be able to see one version of reality but the facts are there if you can bring yourself to see them, hundreds of thousands of troops spread throughout the world, a navy and air force that just blows all the others off and bases imposed in every corner of the planet to house them. Add to that the power of US companies and the power of it's client states, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the other oil tyrannies, Britain, Turkey, NATO... etc etc and you end up with something that is an order of magnitude beyond any other country. You don't see that though.

> and re: Syria- who is it on the thread that *is* arguing that the rebels are some sort of saintly freedom fighters, led by a latter day luke skywalker, using the force to defeat the dastardly darth bashar...?

Given the clip that starts of the thread it would be hard for that, and I am quite pleased to see the truth gradually sinking in, even though I'm sure it is only temporary till another angle is worked out to bring people back in line, but this is new, in previous discussions I don't recall it being the same.

Just as for the destruction of Libya when NATO bombed the place into submission and left the country in the present mess the average view expressed on ukc was not exactly any more pro-Gaddafi than pro-government in Syria. There wasn't quite the level of near unanimity as over British colonial power in the South Atlantic but not far off.

> what is *your* prescription for the future of syria?

Just as an African friend said to me once, "All we want is for France and the others to leave us alone and let us sort out our own problems." I'd say for Syria, leave them alone to sort out their own problems, stop propping up tyrannies in the Middle East, including Israel, take all the troops out, take all the bases out, take NATO out, stop arming and organising "rebel" groups and inventing them where they don't exist... "Yanks go home!" in other words.

That would be a start, I'll give you the next steps once these first ones have been implemented.
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

Your are creating straw men again Bruce- i've never argued for america being anything other than an imperialist power- indeed see my post of 13.14 yesterday, my case is that pretty much all nations seek to exert influence, and if possible control, over events in other countries, to their advantage and very often to the detriment of the influenced. america, by virtue of its wealth and military power over the last 50 years, is preeminent in this. it is the arch-imperialist, if you like.

but as you have pointed out, china will soon surpass america in economic terms, and russia, far from being the "minor country" you claim is the 8th-10th biggest economy in the world and is sitting on by far the largest natural gas reserves. there are other forms of power than military, and both russia and china are richly endowed with these. currently they may not be able to match the US in military reach, but one could argue that china's policy of "buying up" much of africa may well prove more effective in securing access to key resources in the future. russia is moving into a position to control the energy supplies of much of europe, unless we find a way to reduce our dependency on gas. all those tanks poised on the plains of eastern europe, rendered obsolete, by a big tap on the pipeline that makes the lights go out if putin turns it off. that's power, and i'm sure putin knows it.

again, the point i was making above was that drawing up a league table of imperialists is a meaningless exercise. all countries project power insomuch as they are able to. indeed, their leaders would be failing in their duty if they did not. that's not to say its commendable, or ethical, or pleasant to see, but its the reality of the world. iran interfering in the internal politics of iraq is no better, or worse than america doing so, both are playing the game to their advantage, and the fate of ordinary iraqis is not a significant part of their calculus.


as to your prescription for syria- well, its broader than that, its for the whole middle east isnt it? and it amounts to, yankee go home... well, for a start, that's not realistic, for the reasons alluded to above- just as it was in the 19th century, the great game is being played out by the major powers of the world, and to do what you suggest would mean conceding the region to other players.

again- i make no value judgements on whether that's a good or bad thing; but it is the real world, and wishing the world was different to how it actually is doesnt change it, sadly.

and i think you underestimate the agency of local people in the region. it dont think its any more reasonable to expect people to put up with living under a russian backed dictator than and american one, and its dismissive of the syrian people to suggest that the uprising has been entirely manufactured by western interests.

sadly, the choice for syrians appears to have been to live in a repressive police state, with no access to the freedoms we take for granted (like having this debate without the fear that we will be spirited away in the night by thugs to some hellish facility); or to live in the midst of chaos and horror. some choice.

i'll let the falklands reference slide, for the sake of keeping to topic, though in many ways that is another example of what i'm talking about- two powers, one global and one regional, vying for influence over a strategically important region, i'm not sure the interests of those that live there are in the front of either sides considerations,

anyhow, interesting debate,

best wishes
gregor

ice.solo - on 30 Apr 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

of course theres no secular groups - there never was. every group had a degree of religious agenda along a spectrum of mere identity (some kurdish groups) to jihadi bullshit.

whats happened is exactly what was forseen: the larger and/or most powerful groups absorb/align/overpower/displace smaller groups. nothing new in that, the history of conflict.
no different to what assads government had acheived over decades before of having different religious groups align within it, some by force, some willingly for the protection it offered.

Graeme Alderson on 01 May 2013
In reply to Postmanpat: Right wing nut jobs, doncha just luv 'em.....-)
Postmanpat on 01 May 2013
In reply to Graeme Alderson:
> (In reply to Postmanpat) Right wing nut jobs, doncha just luv 'em.....-)

Que????

climber666 on 01 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
>
Just as an African friend said to me once, "All we want is for France and the others to leave us alone and let us sort out our own problems." I'd say for Syria, leave them alone to sort out their own problems, stop propping up tyrannies in the Middle East, including Israel, take all the troops out, take all the bases out, take NATO out, stop arming and organising "rebel" groups and inventing them where they don't exist... "Yanks go home!" in other words.
>
> That would be a start, I'll give you the next steps once these first ones have been implemented.

That is exactly more or less what British MP Rory Stewart was saying on Newsnight last night. He was interviewed alongside the Syrian film-maker (critic of Assad) and a Syrian academic.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01s9bd2/Newsnight_30_04_2013/

They were jointly suggesting outside influences should not be arming factions in Syria. These people were also very authoritative.
Bruce Hooker - on 01 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

> and to do what you suggest would mean conceding the region to other players.

Like the local peoples, for example? That would be tragic, wouldn't it?

> sadly, the choice for syrians appears to have been to live in a repressive police state, with no access to the freedoms we take for granted

But at least the freedom to live their lives in comparative peace, as opposed to eternal war... not everybody adheres to the "Better dead than red (or green)" philosophy. Looking at Libya, objectively the average Libyans are far worse off now and have suffered enormous hardship over the last few years - what have they gained? Here's an interesting answer:

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-war-on-libya-a-grand-display-of-natos-lynch-mob-mentality/5332517

MG - on 01 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs)
>
> [...]
>
> Like the local peoples, for example? That would be tragic, wouldn't it?
>

Or China, Russia, Iran and whoever else takes an interest. I agree with you in broad terms that meddling in other countries is undesirable but since this is the real world, it's not very practical to always take no action, unfortunatly. It also implies ignoring whatever horrors take place when it might be possible to help prevent them or reduce their impact
Bruce Hooker - on 01 May 2013
In reply to MG:

What serious "horrors" were going on in Libya or Syria until the "rebellions" got under way? I realise that the political and economic systems there were not as open as in Western Europe but compared to Africa or the Middle East I don't think the term "horrors" applied.

They have had their dose of them since though.

PS. If anyone says would I like to live there, I would answer yes, without hesitation, until the violence started.
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 01 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs)
>
> [...]
>
> Like the local peoples, for example? That would be tragic, wouldn't it?
>
> [...]
>
> But at least the freedom to live their lives in comparative peace, as opposed to eternal war... not everybody adheres to the "Better dead than red (or green)" philosophy. Looking at Libya, objectively the average Libyans are far worse off now and have suffered enormous hardship over the last few years - what have they gained? Here's an interesting answer:
>
> http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-war-on-libya-a-grand-display-of-natos-lynch-mob-mentality/5332517


What MG said

i'm not encouraging the position of intervention in other countries internal affairs, Bruce. It would be great if we lived in a world where more powerful nations didn't seek to exert influence and control over other less powerful nations.

however, that's not the world that we live in. projection of power, the assimilation of weaker peoples to take advantage of their resources, these have been features of all civilisations on all continents since the dawn of time. if america and europe didnt do it, it wouldnt suddenly stop, with everyone left in peace minding their own business.

also- it would leave us in the uncomfortable position of sitting by watching horrors unfold that we could potentially stop. of course, intervening opens up all sorts of issues, which situations do you intervene in, what course do you take in intervention- and every choice opens accusations of hypocrisy and imperialism. there appears to be no intervention that is so clearly the right thing to do that someone will not object to it. which is not the same as saying all interventions are right, and i agree with you, sometimes there are dreadful situations that can be made worse still by meddling. libya, iraq and afghanistan clearly stand out as cases where this arguably has happened. it would be tragic if syria went the same way.

having agreed with you in part above, i would disagree on your second point though. i dont think its for me, or you to tell anyone in another country that they are better off living in relative security, provided that they dont do anything to bring themselves to the attention of the machinery their state uses to suppress internal dissent. history shows us that many people are willing to trade freedom for security, but that many are not. i'm not saying who is right or wrong, but i do feel very priviledged to live in a time and a place where that isnt a choice i have to make. and i wouldnt dream of telling someone brave enough to challenge their government, at the risk of their life, that my views formed in the comfort and safety of my western home are right and they are wrong.

anyway, like ive said above, i'm not arguing the point you seem to think i am.... i'm not supporting any "team" in this, just pointing out a perspective from human psychology, politics and history that suggests there is an inevitability about this. meddling and empire building is what people do, and always have done. a view that the "wrong side" are in charge, and it would all be better if the "other team" won is naive at best. the conclusion to "animal farm" is relevant here, orwell understood human nature well,

best wishes
gregor
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 01 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to MG)
>
> What serious "horrors" were going on in Libya or Syria until the "rebellions" got under way? I realise that the political and economic systems there were not as open as in Western Europe but compared to Africa or the Middle East I don't think the term "horrors" applied.
>
> They have had their dose of them since though.
>
> PS. If anyone says would I like to live there, I would answer yes, without hesitation, until the violence started.

http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/syria/report-2009

http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/libya/report-2010

yes, there were worse places. that doesnt excuse the activities documented in these reports predating the uprisings, and security forces acting with impunity, arbitrary detentions, torture and murder count as horrors in my book

i entirely agree though, things are much worse since the uprisings

will they improve? will it be "worth it"? i just dont know. these are difficult situations with no easy answers, Bruce,

cheers
gregor


Bruce Hooker - on 01 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

> it would leave us in the uncomfortable position of sitting by watching horrors unfold that we could potentially stop...

But never do... we nearly always make it worse, for the people concerned, that is, but we usually make it better for the interests who pushed for the pseudo-humanitarian intervention, which is why we do it. You say this is just the way of the world, I think this is a copout, the way of the world was slavery and 12 hour working day, children down the mines, it isn't now.

> i dont think its for me, or you to tell anyone in another country that they are better off living in relative security, provided that they don't do anything to bring themselves to the attention of the machinery their state uses to suppress internal dissent.

I'm not saying that to anybody, but it has to come from them and take into account their real possibilities of winning and survival if they lose: I've seen so many cases of leftist movements pushing naïve people to "revolt" in situations in which victory was impossible, leaving them totally in the shit while those who encouraged them returned to their comfortable live.

I'm not just thinking of war situations, but also, for example, those who push illegal immigrants to openly take hard-line actins to improve their situation but which often ends with them all being deported. Pushing people to "die on the barricades" to create martyrs doesn't seem to be a very moral thing to do.
Bruce Hooker - on 01 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

> orwell understood human nature well,

Orwell was a upper class drop-out who played at being a revolutionary and slumming it for a few years before returning to the comfort that his birth assured him, even if he wrote a few good things he's hardly a reference for this debate IMO.
Bruce Hooker - on 01 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
> [...]
>
> http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/syria/report-2009
>
> http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/libya/report-2010
>
> yes, there were worse places. that doesnt excuse the activities documented in these reports predating the uprisings, and security forces acting with impunity, arbitrary detentions, torture and murder count as horrors in my book

These fibs are covered in the article I linked to above, they are part of the campaign to justify attacking a country which stood in the way of Western interests.

MG - on 01 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs)
> [...]
>
> These fibs are covered in the article I linked to above, they are part of the campaign to justify attacking a country which stood in the way of Western interests.


In your view Ammenty International is part of this campaign you see?
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 01 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs)
>
> [...]
>
> But never do... we nearly always make it worse, for the people concerned, that is, but we usually make it better for the interests who pushed for the pseudo-humanitarian intervention, which is why we do it. You say this is just the way of the world, I think this is a copout, the way of the world was slavery and 12 hour working day, children down the mines, it isn't now.
>

Isn't it? We may have outlawed such practices in the developed world, but we seem by and large happy to purchase products made by people working in conditions like that elsewhere in the world. i think we've largely just pushed the problems out of sight.

and re: imperialism, we *have* moved on, in many ways. forcibly annexing a country, systematic direct abuse of its inhabitants, and wholesale theft of the country's wealth, the model used by european powers from spain and portugal in the 16th century, to belgium in the 19th, is outlawed and no longer takes place. the american model of installing compliant puppets, encouraing coups d'etat and funding terrorist groups to destabilise governments is largely frowned upon. some might frame the iraq and afghanistan campaigns as a new form of colonialism, but its not been a very successful experiment if it was, and there seems to be little appetite from the electorate in the US or UK to extend this model.

we have moved a long way from a situation where the powers of the day could invade with impunity, and that has to be a good thing. its far from perfect, and maybe we can evolve our international relations and politics further to reduce game playing that goes on. but in the end, i do think there are limits- as countries are collections of people, and human nature includes traits such as greed, aggression, suspicion and ambition- and those that obtain positions of power and the ability to influence world events may have an overrepresentation of such traits. i suspect there will always be leaders willing to try to enrich their country and themselves at the expense of others, and while such people may be present, game theory would dictate that other countries, even if they dont want to engage in that themselves, have to take steps to protect themselves against the likelihood someone else will.

sorry if that's a bit negative, like i say we *have* come a long way, but like outsourcing our unacceptable working practices to distant sweatshops, imperialism has in some ways just become cleverer any less directly reliant on military measures.
>
>" I'm not saying that to anybody, but it has to come from them and take into account their real possibilities of winning and survival if they lose: I've seen so many cases of leftist movements pushing naïve people to "revolt" in situations in which victory was impossible, leaving them totally in the shit while those who encouraged them returned to their comfortable live.
>
> I'm not just thinking of war situations, but also, for example, those who push illegal immigrants to openly take hard-line actins to improve their situation but which often ends with them all being deported. Pushing people to "die on the barricades" to create martyrs doesn't seem to be a very moral thing to do."

all fair comment. though some people will always come to a decision to challenge the status quo without anyone having to groom them. courage, vision, idealism, and a sense of injustice needing to be challenged are part of human nature too, thank god.

i dont buy your implication that the amnesty reports are the product of a campaign to create the conditions for military action, or that they are 'willing idiots', manipulated into spreading the hawk's message, though!

best wishes
gregor

Rob Exile Ward on 01 May 2013
In reply to MG: Amnesty International = Capitalist lackeys.

Unless they're investigating UK or US human rights abuses in which case they're acceptable.

Everyone knows that don't they?
Bruce Hooker - on 01 May 2013
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
> [...]
>
>
> In your view Ammenty International is part of this campaign you see?

The person who wrote the article I linked to and the book presented in the said article do, maybe if you read it then we could discuss what was written there about Amnesty. Personally I've always had mixed feelings about the organisation, as many of these NGO,s. Criticism of Amnesty is nothing new, I first heard it over 30 years ago.

Pretty well all agents involved in international affairs are both manipulated and manipulators, none are entirely neutral and none are groups of people who all have the same objectives and motivations... How could it be otherwise? Even if it is unintentional it could hardly be and, given the number of people who take Amnesty, Medecins sans Frontiers, the Red Cross etc. as organisations whose views can be taken as gospel truth it is obvious that any world power would have every interest in doing what was required to influence these statements.

I doubt that any get their marching orders directly from Obama, Putin, Cameron or Xi Jinping but I think it would be naïve to imagine that they escape human defaults anymore than you or me.
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 01 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

Hi Bruce,

its been an interesting thread this, and i note your balanced and reasonable critique of Amnesty international in your reply to MG.

However, your link left me underwhelmed. I don;t know enough about the region to be able to confirm or deny the allegations- and indeed, the central thrust, which is that china's growing influence over africa has led to the west taking underhand action to try to counter this is entirely believable in the context of the arguments i've been making above-

but: i can recognise a polemic when i see one, and all the signs of someone taking another person's work and using convenient bits of it to back up their preconceived views were there. it made interesting reading, for sure; but the tone left me unable to trust that the journalist wasn't distorting the picture to fit the story he wanted to tell.

i certainly wouldnt use it as evidence against amnesty international- the author can't even decide within the article what he thinks about them, and clearly hasnt proof read his own copy! see these two quotes from the article you linked:

"The ‘African mercenary’ myth was thus created to justify these pogroms, as the Western media near-universally referred to their victims as ‘mercenaries’ – or ‘alleged mercenaries’ in the more circumspect and highbrow outlets – and thus as aggressors and legitimate targets. The myth was completely discredited by both Amnesty International – whose exasperated researcher told a TV interviewer that “We examined this issue in depth and found no evidence: the rebels spread these rumors everywhere [with] terrible consequences for African guest workers” "

and then a few paras on:

"Forte goes on to expose the role of groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, who helped perpetuate some of the worst lies about what was happening in Libya, such as the fictitious ‘African mercenaries’ and ‘mass rape’, and who in the case of Amnesty, “mere days into the uprising and well before it had a chance to ascertain, corroborate or confirm any facts on the ground…began launching public accusations against Libya, the African Union and the UNSC for failing to take action”. "

so amnesty are both responsible for spreading lies, and for dispelling myths about the same allegations! maybe they did, but that's not what the article claims, the two passages appear unaware of the others' existence

so: i can buy your characterisation of amnesty as run by fallible humans who make mistakes at times. i can even accept that the underlying thesis of the link may have some truth- i have been claiming throughout that *all* nations engage in imperialism, just not as you define it.

but i dont accept that the link discredits amnesty to the extent you claim- as i've shown, the article has been poorly proofread and contradicts itself. and even though amnesty make mistakes at times, the links i provided did not refer to one single incident, but were overall reports summarising patterns of behaviour of the regimes over years. they would need to be wrong on an industrial scale across many years, many events and many countries, and i dont find that credible, not do i think the evidence you provided supports that contention.

assad and gaddafi are/were unpleasant, ruthless autocratic rulers of regimes which do not/did not tolerate dissent and use/used violent means to suppress it. i dont think there is serious dispute over that- even Assad appears to admit as much, but supplies a justification for it.

the debate is surely over whether overthrowing them was justified, or causes more harm than good. and thats one i dont pretend to know the answer to, and i suspect no one will for 10+ years,

anyhow, best wishes,

gregor
Gudrun - on 01 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:
> the debate is surely over whether overthrowing them was justified, or causes more harm than good. and thats one i dont pretend to know the answer to, and i suspect no one will for 10+ years.

I do and so do 22 million Syrians! i don't need 10 years!
Nothing could warrant this barbarity by backward Islamist fundamentalists.
And nohing can warrant our barbarity in organizing,funding and all the covert shit!
I have still received no reply from that<insert appropriate offensive name>Cameron,i want to know WhyThe_ my tax money is still going to maniac Islamic fundamentalists who are destroying Syria.

It is absolutely disgusting and i hate this country's imperialism.
dek - on 01 May 2013
In reply to Gudrun:
> (In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs)
> [...]
>
> It is absolutely disgusting and i hate this country's imperialism.
Happy May Day comrade!

Gudrun - on 01 May 2013
Bruce Hooker - on 02 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

> so amnesty are both responsible for spreading lies, and for dispelling myths about the same allegations!

Well done, you've got it at last!

Concerning China, on this post and further up the thread you show your inbuilt prejudice against China. What the West reproaches against China is that they are trading with African countries - something the West has been doing for centuries! So seeing China as a threat just because they are trading, signing contracts, sending many of their own nationals to carry out these projects all over the world, like our own companies, is unjustified.

Again it's also a question of degree, and as you learnt at school like I did, when quantitative changes reach a certain level they become qualitative - something many have enormous difficulty with on ukc. An ambassador contacting a government to defend one of their citizens, or a company having difficulties in the host country is not imperialism. When the scale is such that a major power can influence the same government to an extent that becomes prejudicial to the host country then it's well on the way to at least neo-colonialism. A difference of degree becomes a difference of nature at a certain point - the actual point being a subjective judgement.

All countries are not imperialist, they lack the power, possibly the will too but we can't prove that. I really can't see how looking at the troops on the ground, on the sea, and in bases all over the world (including the Malvinas!) you can deny that there is a difference of nature between the legitimate acts of defending its interests of, say, Iceland or Jamaica, for example, and the bellicose acts of USA or Britain... today, of course, Iceland had it's colonial moment with the Vikings but today I really don't think they can be accused of imperialism.

In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> Concerning China, on this post and further up the thread you show your inbuilt prejudice against China.

I was listening to World Service earlier this week and they had a long section of the organ trade from executed prisoners in China - partly sparked by efforts in an Australian university to revoke an honourary degree given to a Chinese professor who has since said he removed organs from executed prisoners for sale to transplant recipients. A Canadian MP has also written a book about it. Did you hear it? I'm against the death penalty anywhere; but I can kinda of see the logic of taking organs from prisoners once executed; but what was horrific here was that they executed prisoners to order, if they were a tissue match with patients who could pay. Did you hear it?
Bruce Hooker - on 02 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:

No, but what is the relevance to this discussion?

Here's something that is a bit - especially since Obama has started suggesting that the Syrian government may have used chemical weapons - he is on record as saying if they did the USA would intervene:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/20/world/middleeast/syria-developments.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&a...

Again the New York Times, not my favourite but I know you will dismiss any isn't US mainline :-)
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 02 May 2013
In reply to Bruce :

Re amnesty and the link you provided- your sarcasm is just deflecting attention from the reality of the situation- it was an incoherent rant, and the author hasn't noticed that he making directly contradictory claims only a few paras apart. I suspect it may have been a poorly proof read cut and paste job from previously written material.

It certainly goes nowhere near invalidating the annual reports amnesty provide, cited in my links.

Re china, as is often the case you are misreading me, as you do on Argentina. I guess it's a form of ad hominem, designed to undermine my argument by undermining me. But I can assure you I've nothing against either china, Russia, or Argentina. I consider they are just human beings, identical to us, with the usual spread of strengths, shortcomings, aspirations, and prejudices. And their leaders play the same games, by the same rules as western ones do.

I'll reiterate, you seem to want to turn the debate into a matter of sides, and allocate people to one or other of these. I don't accept that conceptualisation of the issue. I don't have a 'side' in this. I think that helps me see more clearly than those that do...

;-)

I'm 100% with you on your second para though- its precisely what I've been arguing. And I think that chinas level of investment in many countries does cross the line into influencing host countries, and is neo imperialism (or neo-neo-imperialism...?). That's not a criticism by the way, just a description. Indeed, I would confess admiration, it's excellent strategic thinking, and shows that Americas model of doing colonialism is possibly outdated.

As to your contention that power is needed, it's true, but you can be Imperialist on a regional level as well as a global one. As ive said, I consider it an inherent part of the business of being a state, that you seek to improve the lot of your citizens, and that means engaging with neighbours in interactions that can be mutually beneficial, but often aren't, or at least where the benifits are asymmetric. The inherent power at your disposal changes the level you play the game at, but everyone is in the game at some level, and always has been.

A remarkably civil and interesting thread, long may it continue in this vein...!

Best wishes Bruce,

Gregor
pneame on 02 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:
The issue of neo-colonialism and improving one's citizens lot is an interesting one.

Aren't all market transactions a bit one sided? The degree of one-sidedness defines whether its is a "civilized" transaction or not.

For example, seller A has something that buyer B wants. However, A cannot do anything at all with what they are selling and has no prospect of doing so. So they will sell it for whatever they can get for it. B can do a lot with what they are buying, but they know that A can't use it. So they buy it for much less than it is "really" worth, thus exploiting A. This is not a civilized transaction and would be colonialism.

Conversely, A can use what they are selling, but they have an excess, so they sell it to B at slightly less than it's fair value, allowing B to benefit a bit, but not too much, from the transaction. This is a civilized transaction and is typically found between business entities (or nations) in the developed world.

Even within a set of civilized transactions, there will be those that are fair and balanced and those that are clearly exploitive, often taking advantage of desires for apparent security, knowledge gaps, etc.

Another form of apparently civilized transaction would be for buyer B in the first example to supply infrastructure to A (as part of the price) so that they could eventually use what they are selling (and also become a market for B and also a place that one can move excess population to, if necessary). This is neo-colonialism and is a bit exploitive, but not egregiously so. I suspect that this is what China is doing. There are, of course, all sorts of shades in between.
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> No, but what is the relevance to this discussion?

Not much, but you keep bringing up China. I wondered how things like this fit in your with us or against us view of things?

Have you not noticed how it the US is edging back from its "red line"? It's quite clear that at least significant parts of the administration don't want to act, or no more overtly than currently, despite having said they would.
Rob Exile Ward on 02 May 2013
In reply to TobyA: I noticed that too. The US administration has been bending over backwards to give itself more wiggle room.

Under the neocons they'd have been boots on the ground by now, and worry about the consquences later.
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 02 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:

Yes, it's looking more like a pale pink line.... I really don't think the US want to get involved in another military situation, the last couple haven't exactly gone well, and whatever the underlying agenda is, politicians have to get elected, and going against the grain of public opinion on a topic like this is likely to be harmful to that objective...

Cheers
Gregor
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 02 May 2013
In reply to pneame:

Yes, interesting analysis, and I agree

There is also the political effect on A of being supplied with the infrastructure, over how much leverage it gives B in shaping future policy decisions that A takes. And also the darker side, when the administration in A may not have the highest ethical standards, and may see some of the investment as investment in them personally and not their country, and may then have an even greater interest in adapting policy priorities to suit B

Not suggesting this is anything new or anything that the US hasn't in all likelihood been doing. Sharp practices and flexible morality are not the exclusive to any one state or region, people are people the world over,

Cheers
Gregor
pneame on 02 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:
I'd missed out on the kleptocracy option! Absolutely true.

To get on-topic with Syria; after the rearrangement of the middle east between the mid-19th century and mid-20th century I've always been quite impressed by how the powers that be managed to leverage their oil resources into generally improving the lot of their populations.

The current problems arise to a large extent (IMHO) from (1) the horrendous rearrangement of borders in the early part of the 20th century that completely ignored ethnic boundaries and (2) the fact that absolute monarchies do not sit well with developed countries (and the populations of newly developed countries).

It's a puzzle to me why so-called democracies (US, UK) can't deal with the absolute monarchies very well, even when they placed the monarchs in power. Although Saudi Arabia seems to keep it's head down pretty well.

I suppose it's a challenge making a good profit and providing development resources at the same time, as we see in the US and UK with decaying infrastructure!
Bruce Hooker - on 02 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

> But I can assure you I've nothing against either china, Russia, or Argentina.

Then why do you appear to have different yardsticks for some countries than for others - China simply trading in Africa is not colonialism any more than other Western countries doing the same is in itself - just tell me where do you see Chinese military bases, aircraft carriers, drones being deployed around Africa or elsewhere? Look as I may I can't see any... simply because they don't exist.

At present there is only one power block that dominates the world - the Western one, which to all extents and purposes means the USA. It dominates the world and thinks it has not just the right to do this but an obligation. It is unique, and that's an objective fact.
Bruce Hooker - on 02 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
>
> [...]
>
> Not much, but you keep bringing up China. I wondered how things like this fit in your with us or against us view of things?

So it's just another red herring, I thought it was but who knows it could have been relevant in some mysterious way that I hadn't understood.

>
> Have you not noticed how it the US is edging back from its "red line"? It's quite clear that at least significant parts of the administration don't want to act, or no more overtly than currently, despite having said they would.

This page goes into that, it's not your favourite site but it is precisely on the subject of division within the Obama administration - apparently it is the military who are less hawkish than the civil, maybe for obvious reasons!.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/should-we-invade-syria-obama-and-u-s-military-divided-over-syria/533334...



In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> I thought it was but who knows it could have been relevant in some mysterious way that I hadn't understood.

Well do stories like that not make you question your affection for the Chinese government at all? It maybe a digression, but I just thought of you when I heard the story and wondered how you would fit it into your worldview.


I read it; I think he over simplifies the divisions with the US and makes a number of mistakes. The idea that a no-fly-zone is the same as an invasion is very silly. There was NFZ over Northern Iraq for a decade with no invasion. Obama seems to be particularly reticent about doing anything more; but now seems to have support from Kerry and the CIA. Last year Clinton and Petraeus were both more hawkish. The interventionists are now mainly Senate republicans around McCain, but even with the GOP there are lots like Rand Paul who are very sceptical on Libertarian grounds.

no_more_scotch_eggs - on 02 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs)
>
> [...]
>
> Then why do you appear to have different yardsticks for some countries than for others - China simply trading in Africa is not colonialism any more than other Western countries doing the same is in itself - just tell me where do you see Chinese military bases, aircraft carriers, drones being deployed around Africa or elsewhere? Look as I may I can't see any... simply because they don't exist.
>
> At present there is only one power block that dominates the world - the Western one, which to all extents and purposes means the USA. It dominates the world and thinks it has not just the right to do this but an obligation. It is unique, and that's an objective fact.

But of course China is doing more than simply trading- its investing on a vast scale in infrastructure across large parts of the world. this of course is a good thing- having a country's transport network developed is potentially a lot more useful to it than having a foreign military base installed behind a heavily fortified perimeter. but money equals power, and it would be naive to think that this investment is entirely pro bono. one only has to look at the euro zone to see that germany's gifts of cash to stop the greek and cypriot economies imploding came with instructions that had to be followed. the investment is expanding china's influence to parts of the world that others may have previously been the sphere of influence of other powers, all without needing to fire a shot or install a military base. its very clever, and that isnt intended as a criticism- i'm just saying it should be seen for what it is.

indeed i really dont know why you persist with the allegations i'm somehow against china- quite the opposite. i hold all countries to the same yardstick, and i'm happy to express admiration, or criticism, wherever it seems due. unlike some, who seem blind to the shortcomings of "their team"... your lack of condemnation of the practises Toby highlights, attempts to discredit amnesty international rather than repudiating the wrongdoings of assad and gaddafi, and silence on putin's bullying of neighbours using energy supply as a weapon do you no favours.

your globalresearch link was again interesting, and not so obviously incoherent as the last one, but its still a polemic. the choice of language suggests an author with his mind made up, and who is liable to fit events to a pre-existing narrative they hold. its not that they are necessarily wrong, but its such a clearly biased perspective that i dont feel i can trust the conclusions reached. fine for preaching to the converted, but surely the journalist should have more ambition than that?

none of which alters the reasonably accurate picture you paint of the US. while in general it accords a high degree of freedom to its citizen, its history of interventions in other places is at best patchy, and includes some inexcusable and shameful episodes. again, i think at times you mistake me for a cheerleader for US/UK government policy- far from it. its as if the idea that someone can have an independent view, and be prepared to criticise all governments rather than picking a side and claiming blindness to its flaws, just doesnt compute with you...!

;-)

anyhow, lets assume your plan A for syria- all american bases in the region are closed, and all policies to influence the middle east are scrapped- is unlikely to come about. do you have a plan B? how does the country get back to some sort of normal functioning from where it is now? my fear is that, in fact, it doesnt, and that it becomes another iraq, where 10 years on the government still cant assure even basic security and the main agenda is a proxy war between the US and iran played out in terms of terrorist attacks and counterterrorist security operations.

best wishes

gregor
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 02 May 2013
In reply to pneame:
> (In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs)
>
The current problems arise to a large extent (IMHO) from (1) the horrendous rearrangement of borders in the early part of the 20th century that completely ignored ethnic boundaries and (2) the fact that absolute monarchies do not sit well with developed countries (and the populations of newly developed countries).
>
> It's a puzzle to me why so-called democracies (US, UK) can't deal with the absolute monarchies very well, even when they placed the monarchs in power. Although Saudi Arabia seems to keep it's head down pretty well.

I think they are fine dealing with absolute monarchies that largely do what the west wishes, and they are prepared to turn a blind eye to human rights issues in places that are "on message", to a point

but they are less keen on ones that prefer to deal with other major powers, such as russia, especially when such places go down the route of repression and systematic human rights violations to shore up their regime

now, 'we' seem prepared to offer a degree of latitude to 'our' repressive monarchies, but if they take it too far, there are limits, as hosni mubarak found. voters like to be able to maintain the pretence that the governments they elect behave ethically, and when demonstrators are being killed too often, and the crowd suppression equipment we like to pretend we dont sell to dictators is used too enthusiastically, that pretence gets hard to sustain, and voters get angry. and the last thing a government wants is its voters to be angry at it, as tony blair found out...

cheers
gregor
Eric9Points - on 02 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
>
> [...]
>

>
> I read it; I think he over simplifies the divisions with the US and makes a number of mistakes. The idea that a no-fly-zone is the same as an invasion is very silly. There was NFZ over Northern Iraq for a decade with no invasion. Obama seems to be particularly reticent about doing anything more; but now seems to have support from Kerry and the CIA. Last year Clinton and Petraeus were both more hawkish. The interventionists are now mainly Senate republicans around McCain, but even with the GOP there are lots like Rand Paul who are very sceptical on Libertarian grounds.

I saw a discussion on Al Jazeera yesterday among three "experts" from the region, a professor from Quatar, a US government advisor and someone who ran the Ma'an news agency. Much talk about the US bending over backwards not to get involved, proxy wars and the threat of a major war kicking off between Iran and the rest if there were direct intervention.

I guess what I'm left with is a feeling I really need to get an idea of the Iranian perspective on all this.

There was also a discussion about Hezbollah's support for the Syrian government (despite having fought them some years ago). Opinion was that they'd lost a fair a bit of support in the ME by doing this but were probably ordered to do it by Iran. Again they're warning of a major war if others get more involved.
Bruce Hooker - on 02 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

> the choice of language suggests an author with his mind made up, and who is liable to fit events to a pre-existing narrative they hold...

This describes your post to a tee! Really there's little point in continuing, if you don't realise just how biased and un-objective your long post is then there's nothing more to be said. I'll just beg to differ.

For example:

> and the main agenda is a proxy war between the US and iran played out in terms of terrorist attacks and counterterrorist security operations.

Which are the terrorists, those who had several Iranian scientists murdered, impose crippling sanctions on Iran and generally do all they can to create suffering for the Iranian people or those who do their best to survive?

no_more_scotch_eggs - on 02 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

you didnt read my post did you...? else you'd have noticed the bit where i said i agree with you... so no need to beg to differ, or create false divisions in order to argue..

in response to the point about who the terrorists are, i'd say they were both the ones letting off the bombs killing hundreds in iraq, and the counter terrorists who have been only too ready to use torture on those they detain

you're projecting your bipolar view of the world onto everyone else again bruce, but not everyone sees it that way...

cheers

gregor
Rob Exile Ward on 02 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs: I have a plan A for Syria.

It involves recognising realities. Assad cannot stay, nor can he go. His country is tearing itself apart and he and his family will most likely ultimately lose their lives, as Bruce will enjoy re-telling in pretty unpleasant ways.

The various powers - Russia, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the US, NATO/EU should broker peace talks dedicated to developing a road map to a democratic future, with maybe a 5 - 10 year span. There are plenty of carrots available to offer the competing parties, - everything from significant salaries for representatives and financial support to political parties, to aid and facilities for besieged areas - without any need of sticks other than the immediate withdrawal of support for those who don't sign up and would immediately wither as a result.

All it requires is for politicians from all sectors to withdraw from previously entrenched positions that in all cases have turned sour and unsustainable.
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 02 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

Ps not sure you really understand 'polemic', perhaps you've been reading them so often you're desensitised to them and can't see the signs? Or maybe think it just means 'opinions I disagree with'....

;-)

Gregor
dek - on 02 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
Well Bruce according to irans head nutter...
Must've been, Dat Old Jewish Black Magic?
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/167631#.UYLPi4l5nTo

no_more_scotch_eggs - on 02 May 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

Sounds like a start...

But compromise and flexibility don't seem to be high on anyone's agenda at present.

Like you, I don't see much of a future for assad. Maybe he prefers death to the prospect of exile? I guess he really believes he is acting in the country's best interests, and that 'desperate times call for desperate measures'.

Gregor
Bruce Hooker - on 02 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

> else you'd have noticed the bit where i said i agree with you

You said you agreed but I don't agree at all with most of what you type, and certainly not the basic slant you express. I think I can judge what I think better than you.

BTW, the US imposed sanctions on Iran, which are causing enormous damage to the economy are nothing to do with military action by various groups in Iraq... and I don't think I should have to remind you who destabilised Iraq and left it in the mess it is in, after imposing even worse sanctions on the country, causing even worse suffering than they are causing in Iran today, hundreds of thousands of deaths... and this after the USA and it's accomplices in crime encouraged Iraq to attack Iran resulting in over 1 million deaths.

I just wonder which level of reality you live in, it seems to be a different one to mine so discussion seems useless.
Eric9Points - on 02 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:
> (In reply to Rob Exile Ward)
>

> Like you, I don't see much of a future for assad. Maybe he prefers death to the prospect of exile? I guess he really believes he is acting in the country's best interests, and that 'desperate times call for desperate measures'.
>

Alternatively he could be acting that way because he knows his generals will murder him if he does anything else. Something Saddam Hussein said about himself once. More charitably, if he got onto a plane to Tehran with his family and Government he knows that retribution on thousands of his supporters who couldn't run away will be swift and harsh. He's their chief and maybe he's going to stick with them until the bitter end.
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 02 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

yet again you seem to be confusing me with someone who is a supporter of US foreign policy..!

yet, oddly, i'm given to believe that you supported the invasion of iraq whereas i was vehemently against it, and never believed the lie about WMD from the moment it was spun...

and- i find the most stimulating debates are with people who see the world in a different way from me, it opens up new perspectives that i may not have considered... its a shame you seem to consider that debate with someone who has a different perspective from you is pointless- which always seems to be how you end these things...

i *am* interested in what you think on this, though i may not agree with all the points you make (and if you post links to shoddy journalism i will point it out...!)- as i asked above, do you have a suggestion for a plan B, if your preferred solution to the syria situation proves to be impractical..?

best wishes

gregor
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 02 May 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:

yes- that sounds believable, sadly

gregor
Bruce Hooker - on 03 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

> yet again you seem to be confusing me with someone who is a supporter of US foreign policy..!

Maybe because this is the general impression you give, just as you support British imperialist foreign policy so fanatically in the South Atlantic. I'm sorry but I can only judge by what you post, I have no access to your inner self.

> yet, oddly, i'm given to believe that you supported the invasion of iraq

But did you read what I posted at the time or are you repeating the caricature of my views as portrayed by my stalker?

> i asked above, do you have a suggestion for a plan B, if your preferred solution to the syria situation proves to be impractical..?

This isn't debating, you know, or should know, that none of us here have enough information or on the ground long term experience with Syria to be able to provide a serious "solution" to the problems in one of the more complex regions of the world. All we can do honestly is make a few general suggestions and criticize what we see as grossly bad policies of governments.

The parallel with Libya is so flagrant that this provides a good basis. Overall should governments interfere in sovereign states to defend their interests? The UN charter used to say they shouldn't, it has been "improved" since the USA achieved world hegemony but I prefer the old version which may just have been written for good reasons.

PS. The article was not a gospel, what was interesting was the references and some of the comments - what you referred to as poor journalism was maybe just a reflection of the complexity of reality - things can be both good and bad at the same time, that's a truth you seem to have difficulty with.
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 03 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

Hmmm. So last night at 20.28, when I said that the history of US foreign policy included 'inexcusable and shameful episodes', that was me supporting the US...? Or in my next post where I point out the hypocrisy of the west in its dealings with the Middle East, that was me supporting imperialist foreign policy? What about Wednesday, at 15.05, where I said,

"the american model of installing compliant puppets, encouraing coups d'etat and funding terrorist groups to destabilise governments is largely frowned upon"

I guess most people reading that would be unlikely to take it as a message of support for the way America does things! Or how about Tuesday, 23.33, where I call America the 'arch imperialist'- that is hardly a compliment...

The evidence is there in black and white to anyone reading the thread that I have been openly critical of the US throughout. The only way to get from that, to your impression that I give a 'general impression' of supporting the US, would be to not have actually read what I've posted, or to be so blinded by preconceptions of what you assume I am thinking that my open criticism of the US is subconsciously edited out by you because it doesn't fit with what you expect to see... You don't need access to my 'inner self', just a good pair of reading glasses...!

;-)

And of course the Falklands issue is one we have done extensively before- suffice to say your criticism of my 'support of British imperialism' is matched by my criticism of your support of its Argentinian counterpart, and the baffling weight you give to 15th century papal edicts in resolving 21st century territorial disputes...

Apologies if I've misrepresented your views on Iraq, you're right, I've not read your actual posts on the subject. Though that doesn't alter the fact I was entirely at odds with the US and UK governments on the issue, and considered the 45 min claim was allowed to be publicised knowing it was incorrect.

Re the articles- again, it was their tone, they were clear polemics, written from a point of view and seeing the world through a particular lens. That's not a problem, polemicism is an art with long tradition, and it doesn't necessarily invalidate what is being said. But polemics do tend not to be the best tool to persuade the unconvinced in complex situations, and need to be taken as part of a wider spectrum of reading on a subject.

And I agree, of course we can't solve the problems of Syria or anywhere else... Climbers can't even sort out our own ethical issues going by recent threads never mind those of the wider world! So I'm not asking you for The Solution, and won't hold you to it if it fails at the implementation stage...

;-)

Just looking to explore your thoughts on possible ways forward, accepting that there never will be a day where the great powers of the world, on all sides, renounce policies of interfering in the affairs of strategically important parts of the world...

Cheers
Gregor
Rob Exile Ward on 03 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs: I note that Bruce hasn't responded to my Plan A, above. I'm not sure that constructive comments about ways forward are his bag.
Bruce Hooker - on 03 May 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

I didn't reply because I have the impression that you aren't interested in my views, as suggested by the odd reference to me in the post and numerous other disobliging references in the past, but also because your suggestion doesn't mean much - at least you are not suggesting bombing Syria into submission as in Libya but just saying "broker a deal" without saying what that deal is doesn't go very far... Not to mention the contestable suggestion that it is up to "various powers" to sort out problems in Syria, especially as several in your list have been active in supporting the hostilities in the country right from the beginning.

The opposite is IMO (if you really are interested after all) the answer - all these powers should STOP interfering and leave Syria alone - the mercenary groups which at last most seem to be agreeing are causing most of the fighting will stop fighting once their cash stops coming, especially if they run out of bullets and explosives to kill and maim too.

Alas the latest is that "Obama is moving more and more towards arming the rebels" (ie. these very same groups) according to the radio this morning. The "ever increasing talk of the use of chemical weapons by government forces" is pushing the poor reluctant pacifist into doing this (as if the USA hadn't already started) - again according to the French radio this morning - notice they don't actually say any chemical weapons were used, they have no evidence, it's enough to say someone somewhere is saying they may have been used!

Thus democracy marches toward yet another triumph for humanity.
Bruce Hooker - on 03 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

You like to add a little remark about how the USA has been bad in the past, without too much precision, but that's a little like a National Front leader saying "not all blacks are lazy ignorant rapists, some of my best friends are black", what counts is what the same fascist says and does in his day to day political action.

For you I don't recall any clear and frank condemnation of the NATO attacks on Libya which lead to the overthrow of the government, nor of the pressures used against Iran, going as far as targeted assassination and forcing other countries to take part in the trade sanctions, nor have I read a post by you which condemns Israel and the support that the USA has given them for decades, without which the genocide of the Palestinian people could not continue... to give three examples.

It's all very well claiming you don't support Western policies in a general way but if you support them in substance on such critical issues as these it's not very convincing. It might not satisfy your "well meaning nice liberal middle of the road stance" but there are sides in the world and sitting in the middle is equivalent to supporting the dominant one.
tony on 03 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
>
> The opposite is IMO (if you really are interested after all) the answer - all these powers should STOP interfering and leave Syria alone - the mercenary groups which at last most seem to be agreeing are causing most of the fighting will stop fighting once their cash stops coming, especially if they run out of bullets and explosives to kill and maim too.

And Assad's government will be able to carry on with its oppression and dictatorship. Not quite sure what kind of progress that represents.
Sir Chasm - on 03 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: There are sides in the world? So which "side" are you on in Syria?
MikeTS - on 03 May 2013
In reply to dek:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
> Well Bruce according to irans head nutter...
> Must've been, Dat Old Jewish Black Magic?
> http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/167631#.UYLPi4l5nTo

no-one taught me. where do i go for my lessons?

MikeTS - on 03 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> Which are the terrorists, those who had several Iranian scientists murdered, impose


Terrorism uses killing of innocents to achieve a political goal.

So terrorism in this context would be to send a suicide bomber into the Tehran bazaar to blow up women and children, in order to persuade the Iranian government not to employ scientists to develop nuclear weapons.
Bruce Hooker - on 03 May 2013
In reply to Sir Chasm:

On the side of those who are in favour of progressive changes in the context of a secular state respecting all the ethnic and religious groups that make up the country - those in favour of peace and compromise.
Bruce Hooker - on 03 May 2013
In reply to MikeTS:

Or killers on motor bikes bombing the car of scientists in the street, with collateral damage, or blowing up a whole building and all those within it to slow down Iran's nuclear development.

These are terrorists too.
Sir Chasm - on 03 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: That's quite a nebulous and hard to identify "side" isn't it?
tony on 03 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to Sir Chasm)
>
> On the side of those who are in favour of progressive changes in the context of a secular state respecting all the ethnic and religious groups that make up the country - those in favour of peace and compromise.

peace and compromise - there's not a lot of that going with any of the combatants, so that doesn't really translate to anything meaningful.
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 03 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

Well, I have stated that the invasion of Iraq was based on lies, that's pretty precise. And if you look back through my posting history you will find posts condemning israels actions in regard to Palestine, and the US support of this, though I tend to avoid the Israel threads as they become pretty unpleasant. Also, some of us have lives away from this place, and have to choose which threads we will give time to...

;-)

I reluctantly supported action against Libya but accept I may have been wrong on that. And gave no hesitation in condemning assassinations, drone strikes and guantanamo bay.

Is that all specific enough for you...?

I would draw the contrast with your silence on the shameful events in tobys link, on russias hydrocarbon bullying, and on the human rights abuses of Libya, Syria and Iran over the years. Your 'with me or against me' approach appears to
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 03 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

Continued...

Lead to a position where there is no horror you will not repudiate, as that would be letting down 'your' side

In the end, we have a difference of opinion here; I don't think it is a world with only 2 sides, and where picking one dictates what you have to think about everything else in international relations. That is clearly a gross oversimplification of the massive complexity of the world.

If you let your dogma tell you how to respond to situations, its no surprise that sometimes it leads you astray. Better to judge each situation on its merits, even if that means admitting you don't know what the right course of action is- and that is the case for me with Syria.

Cheers

Gregor
Bruce Hooker - on 03 May 2013
In reply to Sir Chasm:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker) That's quite a nebulous and hard to identify "side" isn't it?

Yes.

What did you expect, a list of names? As well as being hard to identify I fear they are getting harder and harder to find, life is hard for such people in civil wars.

Bruce Hooker - on 03 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

> I would draw the contrast with your silence on the shameful events in tobys link, on russias hydrocarbon bullying, and on the human rights abuses of Libya, Syria and Iran over the years.

That seems to define which side you are on fairly well, not so much by the direct information as by the words you use to describe situations. Choice of language says a lot.

no_more_scotch_eggs - on 03 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs)
>
> [...]
>
> That seems to define which side you are on fairly well, not so much by the direct information as by the words you use to describe situations. Choice of language says a lot.

I'm sure you're right. And your choice not to express even the mildest of disapproval of the activities of those that you seem to consider on 'your' side speaks volumes.

Contrast to the explicit, detailed and robust criticism I make of those that you appear to believe i think are on 'my' side.

Of course they are no such thing. I have no 'side' in this, and consider boiling the vast complexity of history and international relations into a binary system of good guys/bad guys, with me/against me, is flawed at the most fundamental level as a world view.

But that's what's great about these threads, you get an insight into.the way people think about the world, and come across viewpoints that are completely different and thought provoking.

Always a pleasure debating things with you Bruce,

Cheers
Gregor
Bruce Hooker - on 03 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

> Contrast to the explicit, detailed and robust criticism I make of those that you appear to believe i think are on 'my' side.

Well if it's "robust" that's all right then!

> I have no 'side' in this,

Pull the other one, it's got hammers and sickles on it.
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 03 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

It's funny Bruce, upthread you made the point, quite rightly, that you know what you think about something better than anyone else does

Now it turns out you know what other people are thinking better than they do too...!

Actually, its impressive how tenaciously you cling to your preconceptions about people, and resist reevaluating your position in the light of new evidence. And given your views on bolting and dry tooling, I just can't resist coining a phrase I think you might use: "u turn if you want to, the luddite's not for turning"...

;-D

(Actually I tend to agree with you up to a point on bolting and DT...)

Cheers

Gregor
ice.solo - on 03 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-22398831

lets hope this is all lies then.
ice.solo - on 03 May 2013
Eric9Points - on 03 May 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

Oh I don't know about that.

I read it as another piece of whinging by the US right in an attempt to goad the US into war by branding the President weak if he doesn't do more to back the rebels.

If I were Obama I think I'd reflect that apart from Assad, Achmajinadad [sp] and Putin, I was the only one that didn't want the US to get involved in a war in Syria.

Gudrun - on 04 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

> Like you, I don't see much of a future for assad. Maybe he prefers death to the prospect of exile? I guess he really believes he is acting in the country's best interests, and that 'desperate times call for desperate measures'.

Or perhaps it is because the vast majority of the Syrian people support Bashar-Al-Assad?have you ever given this a thought in amongst your pointless screeds of so called "unbaised" waffle?
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 04 May 2013
In reply to Gudrun:

reference please

and its all pointless waffle on here shona, though i reckon my screeds are less biased than most...

cheers
gregor
Gudrun - on 04 May 2013
In reply to Gudrun:

I don't have time these days to read through all the shit on this thread like i used to but did some crypto-fascist or other want to compare the Communist Bloc with the US/UK fascist empire?
Gudrun - on 04 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:
> (In reply to Gudrun)
>
> reference please

This shit is from some biased Qatari scum so is obviously massively skewed in their favour but still states..
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/17/syrians-support-assad-western-propaganda

In the first "Day of rage" organized from the WEst ..no one turned up and your Al Jazeera said it was down to he popularity of Bashar.

A few weeks later many hundreds of thousands came on to the streets to show their support to Bashar.

> and its all pointless waffle on here shona, though i reckon my screeds are less biased than most...

Well you are not only trying to kid everyone else but are kidding yourself into the bargain!
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 04 May 2013
In reply to Gudrun:

you'd think thatg conducting opinion polls in the midst of a civil war must be difficult

and indeed, it would seem that it was: the finding you quote was based on a sample size of 98

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17155349

doesnt mean its necessarily wrong

but the 95% confidence intervals on that figure must be pretty wide, and the methodology would be worth close analysis

and: in 1983 and 1987 13 million came out to express support for maggie thatcher. doesnt mean that was a good outcome for the country, and i'm sure you wouldn't take that show of support as validating the natural justice of her policies...

cheers
gregor
Gudrun - on 04 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:


> and: in 1983 and 1987 13 million came out to express support for maggie thatcher. doesnt mean that was a good outcome for the country, and i'm sure you wouldn't take that show of support as validating the natural justice of her policies...

Is 13 million 55% of the population of 60 million though....?

Eh.....oh look no where near it!
Gudrun - on 04 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

That was me plucking one example out of the web but what of the fact that in the beginning no one cared about protesting out of 22 million people happily going about their business,and even the handful that after a while eventually did were protesting about the ancient emergency law.Until certain armed protesters stared killing police officers and burning down government buildings in Homs.
off-duty - on 04 May 2013
In reply to Gudrun:
> (In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs)
>
> That was me plucking one example out of the web but what of the fact that in the beginning no one cared about protesting out of 22 million people happily going about their business,and even the handful that after a while eventually did were protesting about the ancient emergency law.Until certain armed protesters stared killing police officers and burning down government buildings in Homs.

Good to see that you condemn minority groups that resort to violence to try and achieve their ends having failed to gain popular support, Gudrun, err Ensslin ;-)
Gudrun - on 04 May 2013
In reply to off-duty:

Massive support in W.Ger for those ie. RAF who acted rathr than postured about what they believed in, remember tactics are flexible,principles are ridgid !
MJ - on 04 May 2013
In reply to Gudrun:

Is 13 million 55% of the population of 60 million though....?
Eh.....oh look no where near it!


You do know that the 60 million is for the entire populous of the UK and will therefore include people who are ineligible to vote?


off-duty - on 04 May 2013
In reply to Gudrun:
> (In reply to off-duty)
>
> A minority of the youth of West Germany expressed some sympathy for the RAF beliefs if not their actions, remember tactics are flexible,principles are ridgid !

Corrected that for you.
Still, I'm glad to see that your sympathies are with that plucky minority keen to take extreme action against an oppressive state that they felt unable to change through democratic means...
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 04 May 2013
In reply to Gudrun:
> (In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs)
>
> That was me plucking one example out of the web but what of the fact that in the beginning no one cared about protesting out of 22 million people happily going about their business,and even the handful that after a while eventually did were protesting about the ancient emergency law.Until certain armed protesters stared killing police officers and burning down government buildings in Homs.

and i guess shows the danger of plucking examples off the web without checking the details of them, just because it happens to fit your narrative...

but even if it had been a robust finding, what of it? That argument would seem to suggest that if a majority supported a government, then repression of a minority would be ok.

I see what you've done there to try to avoid that accusation- create a time point zero, before which any bad behaviour of the side you support is ignored, so that the initial escalation is attributed to the group you are opposed to. Well, you may have missed my links to the amnesty internation annual reports, so here is the one to syria:

http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/syria

clearly the syrian govt had been prepared to use inhumane tactics against opponents for many years before the current conflict started- so in essence you are resorting to that old standby, "blame the victim"

since then, it has clearly got very nasty indeed with all sides prepared to commit atrocities, and it defies any simple "good guy v bad guy" analysis. there are legitimate questions over how far a state can go to stop its government being overthrown, and in far less jeopardy the british and US governments have been prepared to take unpalatable and to my mind, indefensible, steps. but to most reasonable people, assad has gone too far; though if he is driven from power, those waiting to take over look no better, and possibly worse. its a grim situation, i cant see any way of it improving for a long time, and blame is shared out all round

best wishes

gregor
Bruce Hooker - on 05 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

You appear to be rewriting history again, although Assad's father had had violent moments (who started then though?), the present fighting resulted from an opposition movement that turned violent. The government replied to violence, it didn't start it, and this after many years of stability. The moves towards more democracy by Assad have been boycotted by the opposition who have shown that they are only interested in regime change, not reform.

This is why Assad still has so much support.

Coming back to earth, no one has mentioned that Israel has bombed Damascus again, they did two days ago as well, I wonder when the UN will be seized by our democratic governments to table a motion condemning such this unilateral aggression on a sovereign state? I would not advise holding one's breath!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22417482

You won't condemn this either, or will you prove that your claim to be unbiased is even a little bit true?
dissonance - on 05 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> You appear to be rewriting history again, although Assad's father had had violent moments (who started then though?),

violent moments? FFS your ability to ignore or trivialise anything which doesnt suit your ideological blinkers is astounding.

> the present fighting resulted from an opposition movement that turned violent. The government replied to violence, it didn't start it

fascinating. Care to provide the sources you have for the exact sequence of events?

> The moves towards more democracy by Assad have been boycotted by the opposition who have shown that they are only interested in regime change, not reform.

ah yes these moves. So how many of them have actually been implemented?

> This is why Assad still has so much support.

and so much opposition.
Bruce Hooker - on 05 May 2013
In reply to dissonance:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
>
> violent moments? FFS your ability to ignore or trivialise anything which doesnt suit your ideological blinkers is astounding.

Compare it with other Middle Eastern countries, not the Home Counties.

> fascinating. Care to provide the sources you have for the exact sequence of events?
>
I read newspapers, watch the TV news and listen to the radio, you should do the same. If not have a google, there were demos, than some turned a bit rough, a bit of tear gas then provocations, snipers, policemen murdered and off it went. The classic destabilisation methods we have seen in Kosovo, Chechnya, Libya and so on. Once a police station or control point is torched and those inside murdered, just ordinary fuzz like the Syrian equivalents of off-duty, then there's no stopping it, especially in this part of the world where ethnic tensions have often been strong - precisely why the Assad family has managed to stay in power for so long, the Syrians want stability and even many sunnites don't want a sunnite Islamic republic.

> ah yes these moves. So how many of them have actually been implemented?

Again inform yourself, there have even been elections and referendums held even during the civil war, a new constitution has been voted... no telly in your house?

> and so much opposition.

Of course there is opposition, that's why the violence was deliberately escalated, it is mostly Sunnite and very much pushed by Sunnite mercenaries from all over the muslim world, even a few from W Europe who have been enrolled by these fanatics. Plane loads have been shipped from Libya to Turkey then after training and arming they just walk across the border into Syria. Others come from the Sunnite militias in Iraq, others from training bases in Jordan... It's not a secret anymore.

no_more_scotch_eggs - on 05 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

Hi Bruce,

thought you'd gone! the thread's been quiet for a bit. been off doing anything interesting..?

firstly, re: your link, yes i condemn it- unequivocally, without hesistation. along with just about every other foreign policy decision israel has made for as long as i can remember.

i'm sure you will find some way now of saying i dont really mean it, and that i am an imperialist yankee stooge, but really, i dont know how much clearer i can make it! just because you conceptualise the world and international political relations in one way, that doesnt mean that the rest of us do, and it certainly doesnt mean its the only way- indeed, its surely a remarkable exercise in hubris for someone to think that they have worked out The Truth of how the world works... i claim no such special insight, and am happy to accept uncertainty in my views, and that at times i will turn out to be plain wrong...

"although Assad's father had had violent moments"...

"Compare it with other Middle Eastern countries, not the Home Counties."

now, contrast my absolute clarity in condemning my "side", with your denial and minimisation of atrocity- you are perfectly aware human rights are universal, and "a little bit" of torture, and "the odd few" extra-judicial killings by the state are still entirely unacceptable.

you should be condemning wrongs wherever you find them, no matter how uncomfortable they are for your "cause", and it does you no favours when you fail to- it undermines the many valid and strong points you make, and allows you to be dismissed in the same category as the 9-11 denialists. you have many good arguments that should stop and make people questions themselves, this blatant partisanship makes it too easy for people to dismiss you and the points you are making,

anyhow, here's hoping that you can at long last start to read my posts for what they are, rather than what you expect them to be...!

best wishes,

gregor
MikeTS - on 05 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs)
>
> You appear to be rewriting history again, although Assad's father had had violent moments

He killed (estimated) between 10,000 and 40,000 of his own people in Homs in 3 weeks in 1970. A 'violent moment'?
You can't be serious!
Bruce Hooker - on 05 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

> firstly, re: your link, yes i condemn it- unequivocally, without hesistation. along with just about every other foreign policy decision israel has made for as long as i can remember

That's clear enough. We agree on one thing.

> you should be condemning wrongs wherever you find them,

If only life were so simple.
Bruce Hooker - on 05 May 2013
In reply to MikeTS:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
> [...]

> You can't be serious!

Neither can you, an Israeli! you are responsible for the deaths of so many more Palestinians as well as occupying their country and driving millions out. Assad, father and son, are like a pair of nuns compared to Israelis.

Rob Exile Ward on 05 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: I truly hope that no one will dignify your pathetic and mindless comment with any sort of response other than this: you are a disgrace.
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 05 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to MikeTS)
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
> Neither can you, an Israeli! you are responsible for the deaths of so many more Palestinians as well as occupying their country and driving millions out. Assad, father and son, are like a pair of nuns compared to Israelis.

no he's not. any more than you are for the extraordinary renditions the british government has been party to. you dont need to make comments like that.

gregor
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Bruce Hooker - on 05 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

He is because he supports all the acts of Israel, he lives on the land stolen from Palestinians, neither of which are true for me. I've been discussing Palestine with Mike long enough to know his views, alas.

Your objectivity on Israel didn't last long! Back on the fence again.
Bruce Hooker - on 05 May 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

I'd say that you and any other supporters of the genocide of the Palestinian people are a disgrace to humanity... Living in the comfort of Europe and wishing death on a whole people. I can't think of much that is more disgraceful than that.
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 05 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

That's clear enough. We agree on one thing.

> you should be condemning wrongs wherever you find them,

If only life were so simple.

i think we probably agree on a lot more that you expect, Bruce. though obviously not on climate change and the falklands... we just dont tend to get into lengthy debates on things that we agree on.

and it *is* that simple- you undermine your own position by failing to be even handed in how you distribute your criticism. you have a valuable viewpoint, Bruce, and a critical voice on the wests foreign policy is important to hear. but when it looks like you are prepared to condone torture and murder just because the perpetrators oppose your 'enemies', you lose peoples' attention.

and to clarify on israel- i have nothing against the existence of the country, once again we are where we are. but presumably israelis plan on being there for a while, and currently their security depends on maintaining economic and military superiority over every other country in the region. can they be sure this will last 100 years? 300 years? 500 years? people in that region have long memories. i think that it would be strategically smarter to do more to maintain better relations with their neighbours.

anyhow, thats been about a week i've been contributing to this thread, that'll do for now, got a trip to scotland to plan for...

best wishes,

gregor
Bruce Hooker - on 05 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

> but when it looks like you are prepared to condone torture and murder just because the perpetrators oppose your 'enemies', you lose peoples' attention.

You really don't get this, do you? I don't "condone" I just look objectively at what they do and realise that their "crimes", if the information is true, which mostly it isn't, have to be seen in the context of what we, their enemies and previous oppressors do, have done and will do. Just continually harping on about the negative aspects of the country being targeted, without having an equally critical attitude to the country being supported is the commonest form of dishonest propaganda... You, Toby and others do it all the time... as on this thread. China wasn't the subject, but in comes Toby with some negative story about China... why? Red herrings, diversion, propaganda.

Being serious and "grown up" about the way we look at the world is to look at the origins of nations, of conflicts, of social systems and realities, to see where they came from an where they are headed. Then to judge what other possibilities there are and what could happen according to all sorts of eventualities, none of which are usually perfect. Then make a compromise decision and do your best to support it if you have any feeling for the people concerned. When they are attacked you defend them, not condoning any possible errors but not being harsher with them than yourself.

To quote a famous economist, "Hitherto, philosophers have sought to understand the world; the point, however, is to change it." ... or alternatively, you can decide to sit on the fence and die with a clear conscience.

> and to clarify on israel- i have nothing against the existence of the country

So you've changed your mind, earlier on you claimed you didn't support Israel. I'm watching the news on the telly showing the Israeli bombing of Damascus, the Israeli government admitting they flew a series of flights over in Syrian air space and bombed Syrian building killing a number of people the images were graphic. Then Obama comes on, not to condemn this totally illegal aggression on a sovereign country but to approve it!

Now go on, tell me that alleged Chinese methods of administering the death penalty (a penalty which still exists in the USA and many Middle Eastern US allied countries BTW) fits in with this discussion and how it compares against this blatant Israeli aggression?
MikeTS - on 06 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs)
>this blatant Israeli aggression?

It was to destroy a shipment of Iranian missiles to Hezbullah. To quote from an Israeli newspaper.

'The Iranian-developed missiles have a 250-300 kilometer range, carry a 500-600 kilogram warhead — depending on the model — and, significantly, have a relatively advanced guidance system, making them more precise than the heavier and more lethal Scud D.

The most advanced model, exhibited last year, has an accuracy range of 100 meters. That, along with the fact that it is propelled by solid fuel and frequently mounted on a Mercedes truck platform, means it can be fired quickly.'

To allow these into Lebanon would be to support the large-scale killing of Israelis. You want this then?

Bruce Hooker - on 06 May 2013
In reply to MikeTS:

The point is nice people don't bomb other countries and give themselves the right to fly in their airspace without permission. That you find all this normal and legitimate shows just how brain-washed you have become, maybe auto-brainwashed but still washed.

You, and most of those living in Palestine like you by the right of arms alone, have now reached a level of dehumanisation that you think it is quite legitimate to kill your neighbours on suspicion, and kill those whose land you are squatting as a matter of course. Maybe you should think a bit about what situation this creates if others took the same attitude against you? And yes, I know this was done in the past, it's strange that you don't seem to have drawn any lessons from it.
Bruce Hooker - on 06 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

Now it seems even UN inspectors in Syria are coming out against the Obama/Cameron version of chemical weapons use in Syria:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22424188

To quote:

"Syria crisis: UN's del Ponte says evidence rebels 'used sarin'
Carla del Ponte Carla del Ponte says there are 'strong, concrete suspicions'

Testimony from victims of the Syrian conflict suggests rebels have used the nerve agent sarin, according to a leading United Nations investigator."


What a shame, Obama may have to draw a new red line... those convenient "government massacres" and Israeli bombs over the weekend and the chemical weapons gambit may have been all for nothing. The heat is on again under the crew cuts, what will they come up with next?



BigBrother - on 06 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: Interesting to see that the BBC give the story such low prominence.
ice.solo - on 06 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

the bbc prefer their headlines to be more cowboys and indians. other agencies are more comfortable with the blurredness.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/pomegranate/2013/05/syria-and-israel
dissonance - on 06 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> Compare it with other Middle Eastern countries, not the Home Counties.

they aint particularly pleasant by any standards. Still its typical for you I guess.

> I read newspapers, watch the TV news and listen to the radio, you should do the same.

ermm yes I do. However I was asking you for a clear cut set of sources since news stories aint really the best sources. Although it is amusing to see you switching positions on them as a propaganda tool to being accurate depending on your need.
Now stop being a condescending muppet.

> If not have a google, there were demos, than some turned a bit rough, a bit of tear gas then provocations, snipers, policemen murdered and off it went.

Ah so its all the protesters fault. The police were innocent?

> The classic destabilisation methods we have seen in Kosovo, Chechnya, Libya and so on.

ohh really.

> Once a police station or control point is torched and those inside murdered, just ordinary fuzz like the Syrian equivalents of off-duty

Well apart from their habit of torturing people and firing into crowds yes I guess they would be equivalent. Minor difference mind.

> Again inform yourself

Again stop being a condescending muppet. Your superiority complex is only matched by your ideological blinkers.

> there have even been elections and referendums held even during the civil war, a new constitution has been voted...

yes those changes would they be the ones Dmitry Medvedev criticised them for being to slow to implement. Or dont you have a tv in your house?
MikeTS - on 06 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to MikeTS)
>
> The point is nice people don't bomb other countries and give themselves the right to fly in their airspace without permission.

On 15 May 1948, Syria (unprovoked) declared war on Israel and invaded it. It has not made peace. If you invade countries, you have to expect that they might fight back!
MikeTS - on 06 May 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
>
>
> and to clarify on israel- i have nothing against the existence of the country, ...................i think that it would be strategically smarter to do more to maintain better relations with their neighbours.
>

Have a good trip. Thank you for letting Israel live.

As someone pointed out, this is not the Home Counties but the ME. Where 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend'. So regarding strategically better relations with their neighbours, Israel's strike in Damascus last night is interesting:
1. Assad has less to trade Iran with, since anything significant they send for shipment Hezbullah will it seems be destroyed
2. Israel has demonstrated to the West that Syria has no defense against modern missiles and planes
3. The explosions were so big that Assad has probably lost important resources

I suspect that Qatar et al are not so unhappy with what happened.

(Although Bruce of course would argue that it is OK for one fundamentalist group (Hezbullah) to be allowed to receive advanced weapons) but that another (the Syrian rebels) be prevented.)

Bruce Hooker - on 06 May 2013
In reply to dissonance:

> Ah so its all the protesters fault. The police were innocent?

The dead ones ore the ones who avenged them? Again you seem to want to apply Home counties standards to a civil war in the Middle East.

As for "condescending", coming from you that is pretty rich, Mr Condescension incarnate!

> yes those changes would they be the ones Dmitry Medvedev criticised them for being to slow to implement.

So no you are claiming you knew about these changes but chose to lie and say there weren't any? When in a hole stop digging.
Bruce Hooker - on 06 May 2013
In reply to MikeTS:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
> [...]
>
> On 15 May 1948, Syria (unprovoked) declared war on Israel and invaded it. It has not made peace. If you invade countries, you have to expect that they might fight back!

I know this is what you choose to believe but the historical fact is that in 1948 the Jewish minority in Palestine, mostly settlers, took the country over by force, killing many of the local population and driving many more from their homes. Neighbouring nations attempted to fight against this brutal aggression but lost the war that ensued.

That's the problem, in Israel even educated people like yourself are brought up to believe a totally twisted version of history.
dissonance - on 06 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:


> The dead ones ore the ones who avenged them? Again you seem to want to apply Home counties standards to a civil war in the Middle East.

ah so you are in favour of the crowds attacking the police stations. It gets very hard to keep up with your special logic.

> As for "condescending", coming from you that is pretty rich, Mr Condescension incarnate!

to you yes but then you deserve it as we see in.

> So no you are claiming you knew about these changes but chose to lie and say there weren't any? When in a hole stop digging.

You seem to be having trouble reading again. Try reading my comment again.
It says something that you cant even beat a straw man effectively.
Gudrun - on 06 May 2013
In reply to MikeTS:
> It was to destroy a shipment of Iranian missiles to Hezbullah. To quote from an Israeli newspaper.

Is this the same Israeli's who constantly lie and make up stories about people who have the temerity to fight back against invaders who steal their land?

why on earth would anyone believe what Israeli sources say about their own governments behaviour when they will lie about anything?

Was this shipment being transported in a factory with big wheels attached to it?

What the ......! Are the Israelis doing bombing Syria,it's another Israeli war crime but nothing is done!!!

I was not sure about Israels part in his conflict,i knew of the push for war by very influential Jewish people in France but i don't know if that is from an Israeli influence but now we see that they are prepared to bomb the Syrian Government.Without a peep from the evil empire.

USA,their rich Arab Dictators,NATO's Turkey,colonialists of UK/France and the Israelis.

A bunch of anti-democratic,backward religious fundamentalist dictators propped up by democratic Western warmongering imperialists and their "Loyal little Jewish Ulster".

Bruce,you my friend are correct once more,the list is endless and now the true axis of evil focus on Syria.

Gudrun - on 06 May 2013
In reply to MikeTS:
> Israel's strike in Damascus last night is interesting

Choice!
"Interesting"

Are suicide bombings against Israeli targets interesting?

Jesus ,Joseph and Mary !

"Interesting" no what is interesting is your word choice!

Your post shows how you think,ie. you want Bashar to fall just like all
the other israeli's and your government!
1. This time in English!
2. Come on NATO imperialists what are you waiting for !!!!!
3. Yeah many Syrian people were killed by your government,you must be so proud!

> suspect that Qatar et al are not so unhappy with what happened.

Yeah your Qatari pals will be just raging that your government have scored a massive hit against the people they are trying to kill.

YOU OBVIOUSLY THINK THAT EVERYONE ON UKC IS REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY STOOOOPID !
Gudrun - on 06 May 2013
In reply to Gudrun:

Long live Bashar-Al-Assad !

To hell with your NATO Jihadi terrorist invaders!

Long live Syria!
dek - on 06 May 2013
In reply to Gudrun:
Just remind us again Mary Doll.....why Bashar's Iranian missiles, should be allowed to kill Joos, Christians ,and arab Muslims in Israel?!
Bruce Hooker - on 06 May 2013
In reply to dek:
> (In reply to Gudrun)
> Just remind us again Mary Doll.....why Bashar's Iranian missiles, should be allowed to kill Joos, Christians ,and arab Muslims in Israel?!

How many missiles has Syria fired at Israel of late? I think you'll find that Israel comes out tops on that, the score being "quite a lot" to zero.

In the same game Lebanon lost too, "even more" to zero. I don't see why you think that Israel has the right to bomb it's neighbours then get all hot under the collar that sometimes they react in an unfriendly way. Do you think such a foreign policy is sustainable?

dek - on 07 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to dek)
> [...]
>
> How many missiles has Syria fired at Israel of late? I think you'll find that Israel comes out tops on that, the score being "quite a lot" to zero.
Thousands of Iranian missiles fired from gaza Bruce. It's only a war crime when the Israelis retaliate.
>
> In the same game Lebanon lost too, "even more" to zero. I don't see why you think that Israel has the right to bomb it's neighbours then get all hot under the collar that sometimes they react in an unfriendly way. Do you think such a foreign policy is sustainable?
Same old shit in the Lebanon, hezbollah boast of thousands more aimed at Israeli cities. Why should the israelis just wait to be bombed?
The only apparent 'foreign policy' in the ME is to kill each other. We know by now that when they say, it they mean it.
Even you must've laughed at the syrian claim, the Jews are colluding with the Sunni Islamists to bring about the downfall of Assad? I suppose AQ now have an office in Tel Aviv?
You don't know any more than the rest of us about the internecine slaughter going on, no wonder obama is trying to keep out of it as long as possible.

aln - on 07 May 2013
In reply to dek:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
> [...]
> Thousands of Iranian missiles fired from gaza Bruce. It's only a war crime when the Israelis retaliate.
> [...]
Why should the israelis just wait to be bombed?

Do you agree with preemptive strikes?
sphagnum - on 07 May 2013
In reply to any:

The US authorised Israeli strikes on Syria are about much more than targeting shipments bound for Hezbollah. They are designed to create more conflict and increase the chance of out and out war in the region, thus weakening Iran.

Carla Del Ponte 'we have no indication at all that the Syrian Government has used chemical weapons'.

WMD lies spun by the US once again.
tony on 07 May 2013
In reply to Gudrun:
>
> To hell with your NATO Jihadi terrorist invaders!

That's a sentence you don't see very often.
Bruce Hooker - on 07 May 2013
In reply to tony:

> > To hell with your NATO Jihadi terrorist invaders!

> That's a sentence you don't see very often.

And yet it applied to Libya and would have applied to Syria if Russia and China hadn't blocked it in the UN.
ice.solo - on 07 May 2013
Bruce Hooker - on 07 May 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

I'll see your link and raise you an "Asia Times" :-)

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MID-01-070513.html

I don't rate the Economist article as very objective, it starts ok then switches to the US narrative at the end. It's pretty clear that the West has been involved in Syria right from the beginning, as they were in Libya, just waiting for the right opportunity.
ice.solo - on 07 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

i dont think either article is very good, for different reasons.

just wanted to keep the thread kicking.
off-duty - on 08 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to ice.solo)
>
> I'll see your link and raise you an "Asia Times" :-)
>
> http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MID-01-070513.html
>
> I don't rate the Economist article as very objective, it starts ok then switches to the US narrative at the end. It's pretty clear that the West has been involved in Syria right from the beginning, as they were in Libya, just waiting for the right opportunity.


"It's pretty clear" to you perhaps, (assuming by "involved" you are suggesting "actively instigating at governmental level", rather than "involved" as in "harbouring a large number of the Syrian diaspora".)

It does seem strange that if the US have (as you suggest) been itching to get an excuse to get stuck in, then despite the crossing of the "red line" they still appear to be trying to avoid any action, despite the political capital that Obama's opponents are making out of this failure.

For what little it's probably worth in suggesting anything contrary to your decided opinion, I was a little surprised at Del Ponte's use of the phrase "strong concrete suspicions", a phrase which as an experienced prosecutor she will know doesn't really mean an awful lot.
Gudrun - on 08 May 2013
In reply to dek:
> (In reply to Gudrun)
> Just remind us again Mary Doll.....why Bashar's Iranian missiles, should be allowed to kill Joos, Christians ,and arab Muslims in Israel?!

They could be used as a deterrent against Israeli state terrorism and war crimes as well as Israeli invasion,or perhaps as retaliation for all of the above and much much more.

> Same old shit in the Lebanon, hezbollah boast of thousands more aimed at Israeli cities. Why should the israelis just wait to be bombed?

There are still Hizbollah missiles pointing at Israeli cities and they haven't fired them,even now after being attacked.

Arthur Schlesinger Jr.: “The president [Bush] has adopted a policy of ‘anticipatory self-defense’ that is alarmingly similar to the policy that imperial Japan employed at Pearl Harbor on a date which, as an earlier American president said it would, lives in infamy. Franklin D. Roosevelt was right, but today it is we Americans who live in infamy.”

But hey when has International law or committing war crimes stopped USA/israeli state terrorism?
> Even you must've laughed at the syrian claim, the Jews are colluding with the Sunni Islamists to bring about the downfall of Assad?

Do you in your innocent wee mind believe that there is no passing of information and much collusion between the anti-Assad belligerents?

> no wonder obama is trying to keep out of it as long as possible.

It is not Libya Dek!The Russians and Chinese won't be fooled by the axis of evil so readily,if the imperialists get invade then there is the not too small matter of Iran,Russia,china and who knows
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Gudrun - on 08 May 2013
In reply to off-duty:

You will be believing the US government when they said

“We find it highly likely that chemical weapons, if they were in fact used in Syria - and there is certainly evidence that they were - that the Assad regime was responsible,” spokesman Jay Carney said.

Did you believe in WMD in Iraq Off-duty?

Carla Del Ponte, a member of the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said that testimony gathered from casualties and medical staff indicated that the nerve agent sarin was used by rebel fighters.

“Our investigators have been in neighbouring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals and, according to their report of last week which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated,” Ms Del Ponte said in an interview broadcast on Swiss-Italian television on Sunday.

“This was used on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities,” she added.

So they are on the ground gathering evidence which points to the terrorists using chemical weapons(poisoning Syrians just like they promised they would)but the hillbillies and gangsters immediately pipe up with "no it mus have been the guy we want to kill"

pathetic but some people will believe anything....eh?
off-duty - on 08 May 2013
In reply to Gudrun:
> (In reply to off-duty)
>
> You will be believing the US government when they said
>
> “We find it highly likely that chemical weapons, if they were in fact used in Syria - and there is certainly evidence that they were - that the Assad regime was responsible,” spokesman Jay Carney said.
>
> Did you believe in WMD in Iraq Off-duty?
>
> Carla Del Ponte, a member of the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said that testimony gathered from casualties and medical staff indicated that the nerve agent sarin was used by rebel fighters.
>
> “Our investigators have been in neighbouring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals and, according to their report of last week which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated,” Ms Del Ponte said in an interview broadcast on Swiss-Italian television on Sunday.
>
> “This was used on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities,” she added.
>
> So they are on the ground gathering evidence which points to the terrorists using chemical weapons(poisoning Syrians just like they promised they would)but the hillbillies and gangsters immediately pipe up with "no it mus have been the guy we want to kill"
>

Your leaps of logic are as amazing as they are predictable. Perhaps you might be interested in Al-Jazeera :-
"A UN team of investigators has said it has not reached "conclusive findings" that chemical weapons have been used by any parties in the Syrian conflict, distancing itself from an earlier statement from one of its members that suggested the likely use of sarin gas by rebels."

> pathetic but some people will believe anything....eh?

Indeed they will.
Bruce Hooker - on 08 May 2013
In reply to off-duty:

> "It's pretty clear" to you perhaps, (assuming by "involved" you are suggesting "actively instigating at governmental level", rather than "involved" as in "harbouring a large number of the Syrian diaspora".)

Both, and you can add arming and training Sunni islamist mercenaries to fight the government, set off car bombs and so on, encourage, at least give the ok as they don't need much encouraging, their Gulf allies to do the same, as well as supply arms including sophisticated anti-aircraft missile systems to Turkey in return for harbouring, organising and then returning more Syrian rebels to the battlefield that was a comparatively peaceful country until a couple of years ago...

Oh, I nearly forgot flying islamist mercenaries that they had used in Libya to this new war zone in Syria some time ago. I have certainly missed a few... People like you, simply trying to do their jobs as policemen in Syria are dying by hundreds in Syria at the hands of these "rebels"... no professional solidarity?

As for why the USA hasn't gone the whole hog yet like in Libya, it's quite simple - Russia and China blocked them in the UN security council... remember how furious Clinton was about that, they still feel they need at least a varnish of legality.

I saw Del Ponte's interview on the TV, she didn't seem to have much doubt to me, she said the UN commission had no evidence of government use of chemical weapons but they were pretty sure the rebels had. Why she said this I don't know, but it certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons - maybe she just had a career deception or something? I've seen her before and she didn't strike me as a very sympathetic sort of person... all this reminded me of the Arab League commission report at the beginning of the civil war - it said things of a similar ilk - that the massacres reported by rebels were often false and that both sides were responsible etc so like Del Ponte's report the whole thing was covered up - the report was never acted on and is only available to read because it was leaked and published on internet.

Gudrun - on 08 May 2013
In reply to off-duty:

Yes i am well aware of this but can you show me these leaps of logic Off-Duty.
Gudrun - on 08 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> I saw Del Ponte's interview on the TV, she didn't seem to have much doubt to me, she said the UN commission had no evidence of government use of chemical weapons but they were pretty sure the rebels had.

Concerning the Syrian government using chemical weapons Charles Blair
Writing for Foreign Policy commented:

'The regime would risk losing Russian and Chinese support, legitimising foreign military intervention, and, ultimately, hastening its own end. As one Syrian official said, "We would not commit suicide."'
IainRUK - on 08 May 2013
In reply to Gudrun: Well thats OK..
dek - on 08 May 2013
In reply to Gudrun:
Been Reading Galloway again comrade?

Did you see the photos of the 20women and kids slaughtered by knife wielding Hezbollah scum? They just stab them to death now, when they come across them. They must make an ideologue like you really proud!
Ps Mary Doll
Using UKC as a soapbox, just to post your interminable, propaganda shite, proves brainwashing works. It's a shame you missed out on the GDR.
IainRUK - on 08 May 2013
In reply to Gudrun: How the hell can you defend assad? The sooner NATO/UN gets involved the better.. we need in. like we did in Kosovo.. but we need brave leaders to step up..
Bruce Hooker - on 08 May 2013
In reply to off-duty:

Come on now, you must have seen things like this before, someone in a middle position in a commission lets the cat out of the bag deliberately for a some reason, then the head of the commission get a call saying "What the hells going on?" and they backpedal?

What she said was quite clear, I read somewhere that she lost her job at the International Court, perhaps this explains her "un-cooperative" attitude?, now a cover up is going on. The exact same happened to the Arab League enquiry, the army officer in charge was recalled and wrote a report that told the truth that they had actually seen on the ground in Syria but this wasn't what his bosses wanted him to find so his report was disowned.
Gudrun - on 08 May 2013
In reply to dek:
> (In reply to Gudrun)
> Been Reading Galloway again comrade?
No i think for myself you should try it sometime.

This-
> Did you see the photos of the 20women and kids slaughtered by knife wielding Hezbollah scum? They just stab them to death now, when they come across them. They must make an ideologue like you really proud!

Then this-
> Ps Mary Doll
> Using UKC as a soapbox, just to post your interminable, propaganda shite, proves brainwashing works. It's a shame you missed out on the GDR.

Irony overload.
Bruce Hooker - on 08 May 2013
In reply to IainRUK:
> (In reply to Gudrun) How the hell can you defend assad? The sooner NATO/UN gets involved the better.. we need in. like we did in Kosovo.. but we need brave leaders to step up..

No need for another troll, do you know what happened in Kosovo? How many civilians NATO killed? Or in Libya, tens of thousands died but still, years later, NATO refuses to publish any figures of how many died under their bombs and missiles.

And you want the same again, or worse rather as Syria is so much bigger? What have the Syrians ever done to you?

Gudrun - on 08 May 2013
In reply to IainRUK:
> (In reply to Gudrun) How the hell can you defend assad? The sooner NATO/UN gets involved the better.. we need in. like we did in Kosovo.. but we need brave leaders to step up..

Because he stands up to US imperialism,Israeli occupation and war crimes as well as being a secular and moderately socialist leader who will allow Communists in his government.
Why must Nato be involved here iain ?
Do you know anything about Kosovo and what we conspired?

dek - on 08 May 2013
In reply to Gudrun:
No comments about the murders then? You must've seen the pics.
I laughed at Irans press TVs 'Zionist Wahabbi' alliance, did you send that one in?
ice.solo - on 08 May 2013
i wouldnt put a huge amount of steed as yet in the UN report as what came out was just the prelim to decide if there was any call for an actual investigation.

as it goes, its decided there WAS, the team heads have been nominated and in true UN form it will take another interminable period to actually arrange the investigative unit (you wanna see real redtape...?).

whats come out re sarin is based on anecdotal evidence, but enough to warrent more interest - it appears SOMEONE is using it - but despite all the media attention no one knows how or why or by who. jumping to conclusions doesnt help and even worse citing this as being the same story as iraq is simply moronic.
aside from the mention of chemical weapons the process is very different, any fool can see that who chooses to.

what is a major f*cker tho is that the syrian govt is unlikely to allow the UN team in to investigate - part of whats made them a highly dubious regime for decades and a signature of rights violating authorities. it speaks volumes if they wont allow them in, choosing to risk condemnation and action for it when they can so easily show otherwise (if thats the case). using sarin is suicide - so is not allowing it be shown otherwise.

its worth noting too that with the official military fractured, with defecting officers and the locations of stockpiles shifting, that unauthorized use of munitions is possible (something common to govts falling apart, notable in the tajik war and now in myanmar where ethnic officers attempt to use govt resources to bolster their own ethnic struggle - something syria is perfect for after decades of ethnic leveraging by the govt). personally i think this is the most likely scenario.

its also worth considering that the UN has ways around that sort of thing: invesitigation will go ahead regardless, albeit by different groups along different channels, and the data will be used differently. that is a murky process (and formed a significant element of what eventuated in korea, vietnam, recently in afghanistan and sudan).

as always, playing into this good guys-bad guys bullshit ignores the exact thing that makes this conflict what it is.
ice.solo - on 09 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

just to stoke the fires:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-22460627
ice.solo - on 09 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

tho i usually regard the bbc with a tongue in cheek, this is as good as ive seen it get in the popular press (ie it says what i too believe):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22456875
Bruce Hooker - on 09 May 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

> what is a major f*cker tho is that the syrian govt is unlikely to allow the UN team in to investigate

Funny because the French press amongst other reported that the Syrian government asked for a UN enquiry to the recent use of chemical weapons but it was blocked by the UN refusing to investigate just the event and place requested by the Syrians and insisting on a nation wide investigation. It is easy to see why the government would refuse a blank cheque to the UN with their past record and hard to find an honest reason for the UN refusal to investigate the specific event reported by both sides. Obviously the delay enables anyone who was responsible getting rid of proof.

This usage of chemicals followed a report of rebels capturing a Syrian government arms stock which was said to include rockets with gas warheads a couple of weeks prior.

It seems obvious to me the the Syrian government have absolutely no interest to use chemical weapons, even assuming they are the evil beings that most in the West (and on ukc) seem to think as this would provide the excuse that Obama, Israel et al have been waiting for in frustrated anger. It's like the "snipers shooting up funeral processions" accusations that sparked off the start of the open armed rebellion, what on earth would the Syrian government have to gain by using hidden, hence unidentifiable, snipers to kill women and children burying their dead? It was clearly the last thing to do to calm things down - just as in Libya and Kosovo it's not hard to see who stood to gain by such provocations.

And yet people believe what they are served up by Murdoch, Cameron and Obama... they "need to believe" apparently.
Bruce Hooker - on 09 May 2013
In reply to ice.solo:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
>
> just to stoke the fires:
>
> http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-22460627

I liked:

"BBC Europe correspondent Chris Morris, in Brussels, says the British argue that strengthening moderate opposition forces would increase the pressure for a political solution."

Just when all reports are saying that there are hardly any "moderate opposition forces" now!
Bruce Hooker - on 09 May 2013
In reply to ice.solo:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
>
> tho i usually regard the bbc with a tongue in cheek, this is as good as ive seen it get in the popular press (ie it says what i too believe):
>
> http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22456875

Yes, very good article, I hope people following this thread read it, but in case they don't some quotes:

"The situation in Syria is complicated. If you are not confused by what is going on there, then you do not understand it."

"But to start to understand why this crisis is so intractable, two things must first be understood.

'Men with guns'

Firstly, the FSA - that you have been hearing so much about - does not exist.

A better title would be MWG, or men with guns, because having guns and firing them in the same direction is the only thing that unites them.

The word "army" suggests a cohesive force with a command structure. Almost two years after the FSA was created, that remains illusive.

The situation has been further complicated by the introduction into the arena of al-Qaeda-linked jihadists and armed criminal gangs.

Secondly, the Syrian opposition's political leadership - which wanders around international capitals attending conferences and making grand speeches - is not leading anyone. It barely has control of the delegates in the room with it, let alone the fighters in the field.

These two things can help explain why this crisis has so far shown no sign of being resolved politically."

MargieB - on 10 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: The new development in relations between US/Europe and Russia are revealing. Russia can't see Assad winning overally but the ensuing chaos in the wake of his failure, has united Us/Europe and Russsia because of fear what will happen to weapons. Russia fears them going into eastern Europe via Turkey and Western Europe fears weapons moving our way. Afterall, Russia knows what is in there, as it sold them the weapons {1980s arsenal sold off when they upgraded} and it could now return to haunt them. Hence only concern, not outrage, when Israel went in- notewothy for its understatement. Now they are united in theory to bringing Alawite and Others to the table. Whether this resolves it??
Rob Exile Ward on 10 May 2013
In reply to MargieB: From what you're saying it rather sounds as though past Russian foreign policy may have unintended negative consequences - hmm, now that DOES sound familiar...

Also, contrary to what other posters here seem to think, it does seem that Kerry has NOT been beating Putins door down in favour of military action on one side or another, instead there does seem to be a consensus emerging that a solution will have to involve many parties, including the current regime. We can but hope.
ice.solo - on 12 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

interesting piece on somalia

http://www.economist.com/blogs/baobab/2013/05/somalias-future

different in many ways, but enough parallels with syria to be interesting; former colony with a seemingly progressive government that got nasty in the face of confrontation, collapsing into chaos with renegade regional backers supporting a wide range of ethnic groups that eventually became hijacked by extremists.
good examples of the failings that can occur when the world either gets involved, or stands back and lets them 'sort it out themselves'.
Bruce Hooker - on 12 May 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

The Economist journalist was quite something! but apart from that it doesn't sound very optimistic to me - there is a lull in the fighting due to fatigue of the players but beyond that any optimism sounds like wishful thinking.

I don't see that Syria is comparable really - there's a civil war and quite a breakdown of central authority by surely Syria has more solid state system than Somalia? Also being central in the power struggle between the West/Israel block and Iran/Asia I don't think Syria will be allowed to descend into total melt down as Somalia was.

Somalia is a one off area, Syria is slap bang in the middle of the most strategic area of the world, not a by water. Both show the power of destabilisation though, how misery can be created by people who should know better, fairly sickening.
Timmd on 12 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to ice.solo)
>

> I don't see that Syria is comparable really - there's a civil war and quite a breakdown of central authority by surely Syria has more solid state system than Somalia? Also being central in the power struggle between the West/Israel block and Iran/Asia I don't think Syria will be allowed to descend into total melt down as Somalia was.

Why should what outside countries want have anything to do with any chaos which happens inside Syria? Life can still become hell within Syria. Any state system can become weak given long enough, or given enough conflict and a lack of money supporting it.



Bruce Hooker - on 12 May 2013
In reply to Timmd:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)

>
> Why should what outside countries want have anything to do with any chaos which happens inside Syria? Life can still become hell within Syria. Any state system can become weak given long enough, or given enough conflict and a lack of money supporting it.

No one denies that there are outside influences involved in the Syrian civil war - the press of all sides has been full of it for months, surely you must have noticed? Even the Murdoch press admits that the most active fighters against the government now are foreign Islamic mercenaries, that they equate to Al Qaeda, and that the rebels are financed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Other media also inform us about more hidden help from Western governments which you may choose not to believe but it's hard to see how don't accept the role of outside influences.

As for lack of money, Syria didn't lack money, it produces oil itself which was enough until the present crisis. As they have been victims of sanctions too I imagine there is a financial problem now but it is one that has been created by Syria's enemies, that is to say "us"!
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> I imagine there is a financial problem now but it is one that has been created by Syria's enemies, that is to say "us"!

You should try learning rather than imagining then Bruce.
Bruce Hooker - on 12 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:

So who did set up economic sanctions on Syria? Or are they a figment of my imagination?

http://www.marketplace.org/topics/world/how-economic-sanctions-affect-syria

Sometimes you get so deep in your forest world you lose sight of the trees. Syria is a real place, there are real people there who are suffering and dying, it's not just an intellectual game to post smart lines about.
In reply to Bruce Hooker: Blah blah blah. You're consistently supporting a corrupt autocratic elite and even if you ignore their monarchical passing of power, human rights abuses (that you seem happy to do with your trite and unpleasant little references to "its not the home counties you know...") and mass killing of civilians to stay in power, you could at least try understanding how they ripped off their own country for private profit for the last three decades. And you call yourself a socialist! I hope your young self would be embarrassed of your bizarre current pimping for the rich and powerful overlords of Damascus.
Rob Exile Ward on 12 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: 'Syria is a real place, there are real people there who are suffering and dying' I have the distinct impression that you have these rent-a-quotes on a hotkey, which you press whenever you don't have something useful to say.

There may be people other than you who have feelings too, extraordinary though that may seem. Unfortunately some of us aren't quite as convinced by simple solutions as you are.
Timmd on 12 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to Timmd)
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
> No one denies that there are outside influences involved in the Syrian civil war - the press of all sides has been full of it for months, surely you must have noticed? Even the Murdoch press admits that the most active fighters against the government now are foreign Islamic mercenaries, that they equate to Al Qaeda, and that the rebels are financed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Other media also inform us about more hidden help from Western governments which you may choose not to believe but it's hard to see how don't accept the role of outside influences.

Who? What? Huh? I never said anything about me thinking there are not outside influences. Perhaps I wasn't clear, I was wondering why things wouldn't get any worse simply because people outside of Syria don't want it to incase it impacts on other countries. It wasn't that important, just my internet musings.





ads.ukclimbing.com
Bruce Hooker - on 12 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker) Blah blah blah. ...

> .../...

> .... bizarre current pimping for the rich and powerful overlords of Damascus.

I bet that's what you say to all the boys!

So you have no real arguments to justify Syria being destroyed, because that's what's going on, after wittering in an identical way during the destruction of Libya and, although it's too long ago for me to remember, I bet you said the same sort of stuff to justify Western bombing of Serbia and the ethnic cleaning of Kosovo to set up a puppet state and one of the biggest US military bases in the world?

BTW I don't call myself a socialist, you are imagining that because I don't repeat yankee and Israeli propaganda as you do... Try to get out of your "all in little boxes" view of the world. You haven't called me a "tanky" for a while, I suppose no one knew what that little box meant.

Meanwhile how many have died in Syria since your plucky democrats started killing wicked policemen there? You never answered this question for Libya, will you for Syria?
Bruce Hooker - on 12 May 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

> Unfortunately some of us aren't quite as convinced by simple solutions as you are.

Yes you are, you think Assad should go and all will be fine, or whatever your hero Obama says.

I don't suppose you have anything to say about your Israeli pals bombing Syria several times the others day? Do you agree with them murdering several dozen Syrians when they did this? Do you approve or do you disapprove?

Simple question but I bet you won't give "rent-a-quotes" answer, like yes or no?
ice.solo - on 12 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to ice.solo)
>
>
> I don't see that Syria is comparable really - there's a civil war and quite a breakdown of central authority by surely Syria has more solid state system than Somalia? Also being central in the power struggle between the West/Israel block and Iran/Asia I don't think Syria will be allowed to descend into total melt down as Somalia was.

really? its been allowed to collapse for 2 years now, and even then the best anyones got to is the possibility of talks between the big players, neither of whom seem too seriously interested. talks that are more about NOT doing anything than intervening.
somalia started as a reasonable state (indeed part of it still is), but this is the point - it degenerated - in some ways because of exactly the the ideas floating around on syria at the moment.
the timeline of somalias demise aligns with syria far more than any other recent conflict, to ignore that is to ignore one of the few functional tools anyone has for viewing the syrian scenario.
>
> Somalia is a one off area, Syria is slap bang in the middle of the most strategic area of the world, not a by water. Both show the power of destabilisation though, how misery can be created by people who should know better, fairly sickening.

eh??
look back at the era - somalia was one of the key strategic areas for the region in its day. yet another comparison with syria is how its also strategically easily by-passed - a big part of why it and maybe syria could be allowed to go to hell.

somalia sits at the entrance to the red sea and therefore suez - hence the brits valuing it for so long (along with colonies on the other side of the straigghts). id also argue that somalia, for its era, was as potent a point of leverage as syria is now (ie peripheral, but of interest as yet another state clutching at forms dictatorship in a guise that would attract international condonement.theres an argument that somalia was even more regionally potent for its time, with the largest regional military and it being an era when international players had a keen interest (russia, the US, libya, egypt, ethiopia).

it may be relevant that both processes of collapse occured during democrat presidencies in the US...

somalia s a prime example of how seemingly strategic locations can fall; sat between a major shipping route and africas most functional states. id actually argue over how strategic syria really is - other than for shia munitions, its been marginal since partition, only becoming more so as the nations to the east slipped further into sanctions, introversion and orientation towards other horizons. for a long time syria has been on the road to and from nowhere - if it mattered as being stable those who buy oil would be more interested.

the point here is that most examples flying about are not that useful. afghanistan, slightly (another bygone strategic area bypassed, but never central for at least 1000 years), with much more international manipulation.
the balkans, again only slightly, with much more intervention and a wholly different religious complex.
iraqs only real parrallels are perhaps the internal ethnic mix and a strangle-hold by previous sanctions, but as far as the conflict goes very little.

no ones saying somalia and syria are the same - the differences are as startling as the similarities, but where the only things that can be agreed upon are the complexity and the pros and cons of doing nothing, its stupid to dismiss the parrallels.
Rob Exile Ward on 13 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: 'it does seem that Kerry has NOT been beating Putins door down in favour of military action on one side or another, instead there does seem to be a consensus emerging that a solution will have to involve many parties, including the current regime. We can but hope...'

Which part of this do you find difficult to understand? This is probably the 2nd or 3rd post I've made where I've clearly stated that (regrettably) involving Assad in peace talks is the least worst option.
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> So you have no real arguments to justify Syria being destroyed,

What do you mean "arguments"? What's happening in Syria is what we've seen far too many times before when undemocratic oppressive regimes start to collapse under their own self-contradiction. I just find it bizarre that you support them so much, regardless of who is fighting against the regime. The world isn't a football match where you have to pick a team, but I'm glad you note that you don't call yourself a socialist because it seems very silly when you are supporting a corrupt, sectarian regime that was too busy enriching itself to notice the massive tensions it had created in the people it ruled over.
MikeTS - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to TobyA)
> [...]
> because I don't repeat yankee and Israeli propaganda as you do...


If only......................
Oliiver - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: if Assad falls, great instability will be caused and people will be vulnerable to terrorist regimes
ice.solo - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Oliiver:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker) if Assad falls, great instability will be caused and people will be vulnerable to terrorist regimes

and if he doesnt?
Bruce Hooker - on 13 May 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

> but where the only things that can be agreed upon are the complexity and the pros and cons of doing nothing,

I don't think many are interested in doing nothing concerning Syria, a lot of countries are actively doing all sorts of "somethings" - what is being resisted is a direct Western military intervention as in Libya and before that Yugoslavia.

We'll have to beg to differ on Somalia, I don't see how this has been other than a side issue (for us, not the poor sods living there) for quite a while. Even now if it wasn't for the pirates Somalis would have been left to stew in their own juice once it was shown to be not an easy place to "sort out".

As far as the Western world is concerned countries which pose no threat and/or no significant wealth to be extracted are left to subsist, places to send white Landcruisers to. Places like Iraq and Afghanistan will be left to their misery as long as they pose no threat. Libya and Syria were seen as a threat, hence what's happening, and Iran is too... all "cases to be solved" - Iraq is done and dusted in geopolitical terms, a wasteland whose oil will be brought back online as and when it becomes necessary.
Bruce Hooker - on 13 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
>
> What do you mean "arguments"? What's happening in Syria is what we've seen far too many times before when undemocratic oppressive regimes start to collapse under their own self-contradiction. I just find it bizarre that you support them so much, regardless of who is fighting against the regime. The world isn't a football match where you have to pick a team, but I'm glad you note that you don't call yourself a socialist because it seems very silly when you are supporting a corrupt, sectarian regime that was too busy enriching itself to notice the massive tensions it had created in the people it ruled over.


I don't "call myself" anything, when I was an active member of the communist party I could have said I was a communist, being a communist or socialist means being active to me, not just having vague opinions. Being is doing.

As for the rest of the paragraph it shows just how little you have bothered to inform yourself about Syria. Anyone familiar with the region would have explained to you how stability in this complex area is based on forming an equilibrium between the various population groups involved, which is what the Syrian government has managed for decades. It wasn't paradise but it was better than what's going on now. Lebanon is another similar case - not perfect, hardly "democracy" in the European sense, but an equilibrium that after the most atrocious periods of civil wars people accept to live with... the important word being "live".

From the comfort of stable rich countries it all very well to criticize but frankly someone like you who cheer leads any rebel group which appears to want to stir things up has objectively far more blood on their hands than I have. Especially when you couple it with active support of the most dangerous entity in the region - Israel. I still remember when you were trying to persuade me to go there on holiday to see what a nice place it was!
Bruce Hooker - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

Ok, so you imply that you can "accept" Assad being involved in negotiations, which is very big of you, but this is a change compared to only a few months ago when US policy as screamed out by Clinton was Assad must go, just like Gaddafi.

Which of the fun loving democrats fighting their election campaigns with car bombs in crowded markets do you propose should take his place when he kindly steps down?
dissonance - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> Libya and Syria were seen as a threat, hence what's happening

well apart from Syria being a strong US ally including some rather handy outsourcing of torture.
However lets not let the fact the US really had no motivation to get rid of him and only went against him when public opinion seemed that way (not really wanting another Iran) get in the way.
In reply to Bruce Hooker: Don't lie about things I haven't said; why not try engaging with what people say rather than pretending they said something else and then criticizing that?

I haven't cheer-led for anyone; I have said that the people of Syria deserve to have their basic human rights respected and protected. I also understand why people living under repressive regimes revolt against them, even if personally I don't like some of the ways in which that happens or the groups that might emerge as a result.
MG - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> Which of the fun loving democrats fighting their election campaigns with car bombs in crowded markets do you propose should take his place when he kindly steps down?

I though your view was we should let them get on with it? Why do you care, if so?
Bruce Hooker - on 13 May 2013
In reply to dissonance:

> well apart from Syria being a strong US ally including some rather handy outsourcing of torture.

As was Gaddafi for a few years, just before he was taken out! Syria has been considered a rogue state by the USA for ages, many even accused the regime of being behind the Lockerbie bombing for example, so really to say they were "a strong US ally, is pushing credibility a bit - how many wars did they fight against Israel, chief US proxy in the ME?

The proof of the pudding being in the eating we now know that the "reconciliation" with Libya was bullshit, short term lulling into a sense of security while also taking advantage of any opportunities that could be used, but both countries were on the hit list... which is why they are being hit! When Clinton was having rage fits because the Russians and the Chinese blocked her UN resolutions aimed at doing to Syria what she had done to Libya are you really saying this was because Syria was a "strong ally"? She was clearly pissed off she couldn't say "We saw, we came, he died!" of Assad as she had of Gaddafi.

The motivation is the same as US policy has always been - defending it's own interests, that of it's dominant cliques anyway, by any means and since it's victory against the communist block, to mop up absolutely all zones of resistance, either by placing friendly regimes or reducing states to meltdown and impotence. Just look at the evolution on a map over the last two or three decades.... it would make a perfect Encarta style historical animation, a steady movement with ner a hic for quite a while.

Persia, here we come... and after that?
Bruce Hooker - on 13 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:

> I haven't cheer-led for anyone

Of course you have, have you already forgotten your posts about Benghazi and the way things started there? You kept accusing me of dissing the fine young men who, according to you, were fighting for their freedom then! I'm not suggesting you put on a mini-skirt and jump up and down like the cheerleaders on US-soaps, you cheer-lead from the comfort of your chair.

On Syria you are obliged, as the truth becomes harder and harder to deny, to fall back on criticizing the government, even you can't really justify the car bombs and Israeli air-raids (you don't appear to feel the need to denounce them though)... but once things get back on route and the plucky patriots are winning in their crusade for democracy once again, backed up by a hail of US bombs and missiles, you'll be up there cheering, I bet. (£5?)
dissonance - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> As was Gaddafi for a few years, just before he was taken out!

he was still getting back into the fold though unlike Syria who had been making "peace" for a lot longer (peace in quotes since the peace between USA and Syria wasnt necessarily peace for others).

> Syria has been considered a rogue state by the USA for ages, many even accused the regime of being behind the Lockerbie bombing for example, so really to say they were "a strong US ally, is pushing credibility a bit

You would need to provide evidence for that rogue state and for ages. Correct they were in the 80s but they then started looking to make friends with their rather controversial decision to support the US in the first Gulf war and then fairly consistently after that.

> The proof of the pudding being in the eating we now know that the "reconciliation" with Libya was bullshit, short term lulling into a sense of security while also taking advantage of any opportunities that could be used, but both countries were on the hit list

no, no, no. You cant state that you know unless you can back it up with evidence. For Gadaffi I personally think there was a certain element of revenge in it once they saw the opportunity. I doubt it was planned though since after all it would be a risky as hell approach.
Even governments tend to learn that lesson after a while and they just had two good case studies.

> which is why they are being hit! When Clinton was having rage fits because the Russians and the Chinese blocked her UN resolutions aimed at doing to Syria what she had done to Libya are you really saying this was because Syria was a "strong ally"?

They were an ally, then it looks like the odds were against him at which stage they jumped ship. After all once a rebellion starts you really have a choice of backing them from the beginning (and hope they forget your earlier friendship) or back the regime no matter how far they go.
However you seem to be suggesting it was all part of a masterplan thought out in advance, thats what i dispute.

> The motivation is the same as US policy has always been - defending it's own interests, that of it's dominant cliques anyway

and this is opposed to other countries policies, how exactly?
Dont get me wrong it would be nice if otherwise but unfortunately not the case.

> by any means and since it's victory against the communist block, to mop up absolutely all zones of resistance, either by placing friendly regimes or reducing states to meltdown and impotence.

So this doesnt deal with Syria and Libya being friendly regimes (in the last few years) or indeed the risk of destablising a country. A neutral country would be preferable in most cases, otherwise you end up with high insurance expenses like Somalia.

In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> Of course you have, have you already forgotten your posts about Benghazi and the way things started there? You kept accusing me of dissing the fine young men who, according to you, were fighting for their freedom then!

Well they were, weren't they? They've had elections since, something Gaddafi never allowed. And please show me where I've called anyone "fine young men" - you're making stuff up again.

> On Syria you are obliged, as the truth becomes harder and harder to deny, to fall back on criticizing the government,

I'm not falling back on anything; I've criticized the Syrian government for as long as I've cared about people having their human rights respected, thank you.

> even you can't really justify the car bombs

I haven't tried to, nor would I - all attacks on non-combatants are wrong be that Jihadi car bombs or govt. militias massacring the families of Bayda last week. What about the bombings two days ago in Turkey just across the border; are you condemning them?
Bruce Hooker - on 13 May 2013
In reply to dissonance:

> no, no, no. You cant state that you know unless you can back it up with evidence.

Come on now, you know I can't produce evidence of such things... there are reports and "leaks" floating around on internet but they aren't evidence either - and the "hit list" I mentioned isn't on a bit of A4 filled in the "To do" basket. There are doubtless any number of such lists, in people's heads, possibly memos of some sort but generally such things won't be left lying around, or lost in a briefcase on a train.

I agree that Assad has been trying to keep in with the West for a while, as he has with Israel and it's only the last few days that journalists are starting to say that Israel is trying to provoke retaliation because they want to get rid of him, until then pundits were saying Israel was more concerned by the rebels winning than Assad staying. The "moderate" stance of the present regime of late is another reason not to strive for his fall, as Clinton most certainly was, not the opposite.

> However you seem to be suggesting it was all part of a masterplan thought out in advance, thats what i dispute.

An overall long term policy or a masterplan, what's the difference? There's a clear fairly consistent line which hasn't changed much when presidents change - who the actual masterplanner is is another question. Plus such overall plans are obviously backed by contingency plans, there was even one for war with Britain ad Canada IIRC, all kept on hold and used as opportunities arise, or can be made to arise.

To put it another way, can you name many (any?) regimes who have consistently opposed the USA, and taken leadership roles concerning other countries, and are still in the land of the living? I can't, something is starting in S America, the continent has been abandoned a bit of late as the USA has been tied up elsewhere, but for how long?

Elsewhere, like gangsters, most of the old debts have been "settled". Syria, and Iran remain - Algeria is running scared but really keeping its neck in, anyway it's more a French antagonism than a US one... and China is too big for a quick fix. Obama has said clearly though that for him the future of US policy is "pivoting" to the Pacific (made possible by the USA's coming energy independence - they won't need the Middle East anymore) though so maybe he has ambitions that way, or maybe this will be for the next president or the one after. Wouldn't you call that a "masterplan" of sorts?

Bruce Hooker - on 13 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:

> Well they were, weren't they?

The black immigrant workers they massacred - a whole town emptied - might not see things like you, nor the US ambassador who died, nor any of the others terrorised by the armed gangs in the suddenly media abandoned country. Under Gadhafi there were many elections anyway, except the candidates hadn't been educated in US universities, if that's what you mean. If present day Libya is your idea of a living, thriving democracy then I can see why we disagree so much!

> What about the bombings two days ago in Turkey just across the border; are you condemning them?

Well yes, of course, why wouldn't I? Another clumsy attempt to justify or provoke military intervention in Syria - like the Israeli bombings which I notice you don't feel the need to comment. Is this so obviously ok for you, along with the constant Israeli presence in Lebanese air space, that you think it's not worth mentioning?
MG - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
There are doubtless any number of such lists, in people's heads,

OK, so any large country's direction results partly from a messy summation of lots of people's ideas and priorities. What countries do results from this and external events. No problem with that....

>
There's a clear fairly consistent line which hasn't changed much when presidents change - who the actual masterplanner is is another question.

...and then you go all consipracy bonkers again!
Timmd on 13 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to TobyA)
>
> [...]
> Another clumsy attempt to justify or provoke military intervention in Syria

How do you reach that conclusion?
dissonance - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> Come on now, you know I can't produce evidence of such things

then you dont know. You are merely speculating.

> The "moderate" stance of the present regime of late is another reason not to strive for his fall, as Clinton most certainly was, not the opposite.

or because they calculated he would fall eventually and hence it was in their best interests to get rid of him as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Since a)it would hopefully make the rebels forget the previous support for the regime and b)if quick stop it ending up with the psychotic nutters in charge of the new government.

> Plus such overall plans are obviously backed by contingency plans, there was even one for war with Britain ad Canada IIRC, all kept on hold and used as opportunities arise, or can be made to arise.

Thats not the same thing at all as a policy. Military commanders come up with plans for lots of things, apart from anything else it is good training for mid level officers.
You seem to be implying though that the US was actively involved from the outset, and before, in causing unrest.

> To put it another way, can you name many (any?) regimes who have consistently opposed the USA, and taken leadership roles concerning other countries, and are still in the land of the living?

Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba, Russia, China to name just a handful.

> Elsewhere, like gangsters, most of the old debts have been "settled". Syria, and Iran remain

well apart from all the others.
However again you seem to be implying the US would prefer an Islamist failed state, with all the training and capabilities for anti US action that would include, versus Syria as it was who were happy to help out on the war on terror by torturing any one the US sent across. Sorry it just doesnt make sense strategically and, unlike Iraq, there isnt any obvious personal issues.

> Wouldn't you call that a "masterplan" of sorts?

No I would call it a texan sharpshooter.
Bruce Hooker - on 13 May 2013
In reply to MG:

> ...and then you go all conspiracy bonkers again!

That's in your eye as a beholder... I don't think that decisions leading to the future of a country as big as the USA are taken by a small group of elected "representatives of the people", or even by the President himself, they are the result of long term actions of all sorts of people and institutions, some honourable and honest and some not so - the influence of organised crime in the USA is not minor - just as in Italy. In Britain the mafia may be less influential but landed interests aren't, the Norman aristocracy still own massive amounts of land and property.

You don't think that anything as ephemeral as a general election makes much difference to these mechanisms of power, do you? Or that there is anything "theoretical" about them.

PS. I forgot the church(es) too.
Bruce Hooker - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Timmd:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
> [...]
>
> How do you reach that conclusion?

It's not just me, it's one of the more common explanations mentioned in the media... that's how terrorism functions, the killing is to shock and revolt in order to provoke the reaction desired by the terrorists. In this case the most active terrorists in Syria are Sunni muslims and of late the government is containing them, some say progressing against them, so they desperately want direct outside intervention to swing the balance in their favour - just as they had from NATO in Libya.

Hence the chemical weapons stories, the massacres by unidentifiable killers, the Israeli air attacks, and now, very conveniently, these car bomb attacks in Turkey. The only such attacks of late have been by Sunni rebels in Syria itself, so is it really likely that the Syrian government would choose this moment to blow up a load of civilians in Turkey when the last thing they want is for a country a powerful as Turkey to intervene against them?

It's a sign of desperation on the anti-Assad side, they thought he'd go as easily as Gadhafi, and so he probably would have done if NATO bombs and cruise missiles had been rained down on Syria as they were in Libya.

In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> The only such attacks of late have been by Sunni rebels in Syria itself,

So you're not counting the Syrian air force dropping bombs on Syrian citizens on a near daily basis then? What about Aleppo hospital being bombed eight times? Who do you think did that - the Israelis maybe? The US mafia-industrial complex?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2013/apr/11/syria-human-rights-watch-video

I hope Bruce does watch the video, but everyone should know it shows harrowing footage of the aftermath of air attacks on civilians.
MG - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to MG)
>
> [...]
>
> That's in your eye as a beholder... I don't think that decisions leading to the future of a country as big as the USA are taken by a small group of elected "representatives of the people", or even by the President himself, they are the result of long term actions of all sorts of people and institutions, some honourable and honest and some not so

Well yes.


- the influence of organised crime in the USA is not minor - just as in Italy. In Britain the mafia may be less influential but landed interests aren't, the Norman aristocracy still own massive amounts of land and property.

The Syrian situation is down to Norman aristocracy!?


> You don't think that anything as ephemeral as a general election makes much difference to these mechanisms of power, do you?

Mechanisms of power? Possibly not that often. They certainly affect what decisions are made, if you don't accept this I can't really help.
mayhematic - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: It's horrible really... tbh I don't really see the point of the war.
In reply to mayhematic:
> tbh I don't really see the point of the war.

Huh! Yeah! Absolutely nothing, say it again.
Bruce Hooker - on 14 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:

> So you're not counting the Syrian air force dropping bombs on Syrian citizens on a near daily basis then?

I was talking about car bombs against civilians - that's what has just happened in Turkey. Maybe it hasn't reached the Finnish media yet?
Bruce Hooker - on 14 May 2013
In reply to MG:

> The Syrian situation is down to Norman aristocracy!?

Did you learn to read with the same teacher as Toby?

> They certainly affect what decisions are made, if you don't accept this I can't really help.

You appear to be somewhat naive (or disingenuous?) - can you really see much change in basic US policy over many decades, despite the changes of President and elected assemblies?
In reply to Bruce Hooker: Yes, so you are simply ignoring bombs dropped from Syrian air force planes on civilians - close to daily. Why is that?
Bruce Hooker - on 14 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:

Must be the same reason you haven't replied about the Israeli air-raids, dozens of Syrians killed and continual Israeli intrusions in the airspaces of neighbouring countries?

I repeat, the point was about the recent two major car bomb attacks in Turkey - they follow a similar MO to many in Syria by rebel forces.

As for the civil war that's going on at present in Syria, it's funny how you don't seem to think that those who started it, and then all those outside agencies pouring oil on the flames and the foreign mercenaries who are at present doing most of the killing are in any way to blame. The victims are guilty, is that it?
Cú Chullain - on 14 May 2013
The following is an interesting read:

From NSFWCORP.com

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The war in Syria has been picked over from nearly every angle except the most obvious one — simple tactics: who’s doing what, and how. There’s something like class snobbery in the way people cover this war. Print and TV focus on geopolitics or the inhumanity; but there’s a whole youtube industry of Syrian videos, which, if you watch enough of them carefully enough, can give you a good sense of what’s happening in the thousand tiny streetfights that make up this war.

When you look at this war strictly as a military struggle, you notice something weird: over two years of fighting, the lines are almost totally static. The Alawites, Assad’s Shi’ia-ish people, have withdrawn from most of inland Syria — the flat, dry country where the Sunni dominate. But Assad’s troops and militias are still fighting for Aleppo, the biggest city in the Sunni inland region, and they’re holding on strong in their coastal home region. The Kurds have assumed control of their enclaves in the north and northeast with some help from their PKK friends in Turkey. Roughly speaking, the Alawites, who always looked like sure losers, have held their own and even pushed back, despite being only about 10% of the population, and having a tradition of being considered weird hicks by other Syrians.

If you look at a map of sectarian demographics in Syria, and superimpose it on a map showing areas of Assad control and rebel-held regions, you’ll see that the two maps are almost identical. And the front lines haven’t changed much since the Sunni grabbed control of their neighborhoods two years ago. Syria makes the Western Front of WWI look like the Paris-Dakar Rally by comparison. The lines held by the Sunni, Shi’ia and Kurds barely move.

And by the way, I’m going to talk about Sunni, Alawite, Shi’ia, and Kurds, because that’s what matters in Syria. This is a sectarian war, and pretending it isn’t is just pious nonsense. As long as you keep in mind that in the Levant, "sect" means an ethnic group as much as a religion. And if that seems weird, try thinking of a classic Levantine sectarian outpost you may have heard of, the one called "Israel." Are Israeli Jews a religion or an ethnic group, a people? Both, more or less -- a very sloppy, leaky Venn diagram. Religion works as an ethnic marker for most groups in the Levant, not just the Israelis. And the fact that there are always outliers, people too noble or crazy or sophisticated to be defined by their sect, doesn’t change the fact that for most people, the sect is what defines you.

Once you see how deeply this sectarian identity works, you can start to understand why this war is so static. In urban sectarian warfare, most fights are about the neighborhood, keeping the neighborhood in your sect’s hands, away from the heretics two streets over. You grow up fighting the kids from over there, first with words, then with rocks, then with whatever firearms you can borrow from your cousins. For Anglos, the paradigm for this kind of war is Belfast and Derry. The war there started with neighborhood defenders in places like the Short Strand trying to hold their little block of row houses against the other sect.

Americans have a hard time imagining how tiny this kind of war can be. In this country you can drive for 14 hours and pull over to the same intersection, with exactly the same McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Denny’s, Day’s Inn, Starbucks, Super 8 and Motel 6. The accents’d be the same, the burgers’d be the same, the price of gas’d might change by a penny or two.

In a place like Aleppo (or Belfast), every street takes a side. The name of the street tells you which side it’s on (which is why those whiny choir boys, U2, came up with the song about a wonderful place "where the streets have no name"). It’s not just the streets, either; the birds in Beirut or Belfast chirp "Death to heretics!" Blindfold somebody from a city like that, walk them around a few times, and when you let them look, they could tell you in a second which (sectarian) side of town they’re on.

This encourages people to "think local." Which means they’re very good when they fight to hold their neighborhoods, but useless in big offensives. Even raw irregulars can do very well fighting on their own turf. But they’re useless when you try to get them to organize into an offensive army. Why risk the neighborhood’s crop of young men on somebody else’s neighborhood? Not only could you lose half your cousins, but while you and the cuzzies are out there grandstanding, somebody could be invading your neighborhood. You just don’t leave your neighborhood unmanned in a sectarian war, ever. Not if you have living female relatives. In ugly wars like this, you’re not afraid of what the enemy will do to you but to your kin —the really sick people are encouraged to get creative in horrible ways; merely murdering your neighbor gets old fast.

So most of the locals in this war only want to hold their block of houses, basically as far as kin and sectarian ties hold. Ask them to form up and move out for bigger operations, and they’ll fade away. Lots of promises — and then the quiet skedaddle.

This is why Aleppo is still a divided city. Aleppo should have been in Sunni hands two years ago. It’s ridiculous, in conventional military terms, that the Alawite army still holds half of it. Aleppo is 80% Sunni, and most of the other 20% is Christian. The only Alawites in town are the occupiers, Assad’s officer corps and bureaucrats.


Cú Chullain - on 14 May 2013
(cont.)

But in two years of fighting, the Sunni still can’t take the airport. It’s not that the Sunni militias are cowardly or incompetent. They’re not; they’re just locals. I wrote about what you can learn from the home videos these militias make, and if you want to get a really good look at how a neighborhood-defense militia group thinks and fights, watch the whole of this French documentary I discussed in that article, "One Week with the FSA."

The title of the documentary tells you a lot about what’s wrong with the way we report on Syria, because if you watch this thing it’s obvious these fighters aren’t the FSA, or "Free Syrian Army." They’re the neighborhood, and they think in terms of corners and streets. Their military horizon is the effective range of a Dragunov — about half a kilometer. They’re good guys, seems like, but they have zero interest in leaving their homes to go expel the heretics from other towns. With neighborhoods like this walling themselves off in every Syrian town, you get something that’s not really one war but hundreds of neighborhood stalemates. If Syria was in a world of its own, the war might freeze like that, into a thousand Free Derrys.

But that’s not going to happen because the Syrian sectarian war fits into a bigger Sunni-Shi’ia fight in a way that the war in Belfast never did. Belfast never made sense to the bigger Euro-Western world that was watching it. Europe dropped religion, after OD’ing on it for about 1,500 years, in favor of dance music and small cars. Nobody in DC or Paris cared which sect won, give or take a bar or two in Boston and the people who invited Ian Paisley to Bob Jones University.

The Muslim world hasn’t dropped religion, to put it mildly. You are living through a Muslim revival that may turn out to be what they teach the kiddies about the early 21st century, a hundred years from now. Even states like Turkey, founded on secularism, are aggressively Islamic now. The big-money Gulf monarchies were never anything but Islamic, and Wahhabi at that. So what happens in Syria matters to a whole lot of places with a big footprint in the current Sunni revival: Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia.

And it matters even more to the one powerful Shi’ia state, Iran. Iran has been on a winning streak lately, taking most of Iraq without sacrificing a single soldier (well, officially anyway) and tweaking the Hell out of Israel via Hezbollah and the long striptease called "Haz We Got Nukes?"

So the neighborhood wars are taking place as a fractal of a much bigger sectarian fight.

There’s an interesting point of comparison here: petty sectarian feuds that ended up setting off a continent-wide slaughter by a religion-obsessed civilization. It was called the Thirty Years War, and it was pretty unpleasant for all concerned. I don’t actually think 21st-century Muslims are anywhere near as crazy, warlike and lethal as 17th-century Europeans, but there’s something old-time Catholic about the Shi’ia, and sort of Lutheran about those rule-bound, legalistic Sunni. Could get interesting, like way too interesting.

At the moment, most of the bigger Shi’a and Sunni powers are contributing money, intel and volunteers. That’s where multi-national fighting forces become so important in the Syrian war. If most of your troop strength consists of local men, fighters tied to one neighborhood, then you’re going to be very weak offensively — which the Sunni have shown themselves to be in this war.

To go back to the Thirty Years War: one of the reasons the Swedes were so scary and effective in Germany was that they were marching over alien territory, so they had no attachment to any part of the Central European theater. Without local loyalties to obsess on, and without vulnerable families in the war zone, they went where they were needed. And they killed, tortured and burned whatever they found. That made them much more flexible and effective than the hundreds of local militias that were tied to home turf, or the mercenary companies, weak and disloyal.

Syria — stuck in local, defensive warfare — is prime territory for that sort of ruthless ’n’ rootless foreign contingent. And both sides have brought their ringers into the fight. On the Sunni side, most of the foreign volunteers have joined Jabhat al Nusra, a foreign legion mostly recruited from surviving members of Al Quaeda in Iraq. Al Nusra, with only about 5,000 fighters, has taken the lead in most offensive operations, but at the same time, it’s a huge liability for the "Free Syrian Army" umbrella group that’s busy trying to look all Western and moderate so as to get offensive weapons from the CIA. So the front men of the FSA have been trying to pat the jihadis with one hand and dissociate themselves from jihadism with the other. It’s been like watching a lab experiment in the relative value of combat effectiveness vs. good PR. And the results came down in favor of pure combat effectiveness; the FSA decided not to disown Al Nusra, even after al Nusra’s leader publicly declared allegiance to Al Quaeda. This was kind of a relief for fans of actual war; it proved that what’s happening in Syria is, after all, a war, not a pity contest. You could actually do a great version of Kipling’s poem, "Tommy," about the FSA attitude to Al Nusra:

O it’s ‘Quaeda this’ and ‘Wahhab that’ and ‘But you’re so extreme!’

But it’s ‘Shukran, Mister Salafist’ when the Sukhois start to scream.

The Sukhois start to scream, Habib, the Sukhois start to scream;

It’s ‘Ya Allah Ybarek,’ when the Sukhois start to scream.

Cú Chullain - on 14 May 2013
(Last bit)

The Alawites don’t have as many sympathizers scattered around the world as the Sunni, but the two friends they do have, Iran and Hezbollah, are much more focused on Syria, and way more hardcore. Nasrallah, the nerdy genius-Mullah who runs Hezbollah, said as much when he told Hezbollah’s TV station that Syria, meaning the Alawite regime, has "real friends…who will not let it fall" to the Americans or Sunni jihadis. That crack about "real friends" meant, among other things, "Not fake friends like the Gulf Arabs, who talk big but never deliver."

Iran provides Assad with money, intel, and a steady supply of military technicians. Hezbollah’s responsibility is raw military power, providing a growing share of the fighters on the ground. And as Assad’s troops weaken, Hezbollah’s been providing. It was thanks to an infusion of Hezbollah troops, the best light infantry in the Middle East, that Assad’s forces retook Qusayr, on the road to Homs, in April.

Pundits keep talking about Hezbollah’s supply of rockets, but Hezbollah’s strength is men, tough light infantry. Even the IDF admits, after getting its ass kicked by Nasrullah’s fighters in 2006, that Hezbollah trains the best guerrillas in the world. Rockets won’t turn the tide in Syria, but a sudden infusion of tough infantry can, and did, in Qusayr. Hezbollah seems to have decided sometime in April that with Assad’s troops running out of planes and tanks, and too chicken to engage the enemy on foot, it was time to stop drip-feeding fighters to the Alawites and go in hard.

It worked so well that the Israelis got scared enough to attack any weapons dump they thought Hezbollah could access in Damascus. There’s been a lot of blather about what the Israeli airstrikes in Syria "really mean," with talk about sending a message to Iran or supporting the Sunni. It’s much simpler: The strikes mean Israel is frightened of Hezbollah.

Hezbollah is strong enough to win in Syria. But Nasrullah has always been a very smart, cautious commander. He must know it’s not that good a look for Hezbollah, playing O-line for Assad’s creepy Shabiha death squads to cleanse the coast of Sunni. That’s not going to play well at all in Lebanese politics, where Nasrullah has been doing his Great Uniter routine.

So Hezbollah’s not going to sweep across Syria. It will carve out a viable statelet for the Alawites and let the Sunni have Aleppo and the dry zone. The Kurds will carve out another statelet of their own in the north, with some weird co-rule deal with the PKK in Turkey and the two big clans in Iraqi Kurdistan.

In fact, Syria is going to end up looking exactly like that five-part division the French gave it almost a century ago.

In reply to Bruce Hooker:

Lets just check the facts one more time, see if you can try and grasp them. Israel launches one night of air attacks against what they claim was a military target. Some say they even told the Assad regime they were not targeting it - only the missiles being transferred to Hezbollah because they would actually prefer Assad in power than pro-Palestinian radical armed groups like Jahbat al Nusra. I'm sure some civilians were probably killed and that's deplorable, but one night and limited targets. Yet, the Syrian government is bombing on a close to daily basis Syrian towns, villages and cities with no purpose it would seem other than to punish civilians who unfortunately happen to live in rebel controlled parts of the country. Not dozens, but thousands - possibly tens of thousands - have been killed by a government bombing ITS OWN CITIZENS. Not NATO, not the Israelis, not "foreign mercenaries". The Syrian government killing Syrian civilians - non-combatants - by the thousand. Bombing bread queues, bombing hospitals, bombing blocks of flats. Why don't you watch the video?

And you accuse me of "red herrings" and the like. It doesn't matter who the rebels are and who their backers are - governments shouldn't bomb their own civilians and expect to treated as anything but war criminals.
Bruce Hooker - on 14 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:

> Lets just check the facts

Good idea, it wasn't just one Israeli air-raid... and BTW when are you going to say if you think Israel is justified in over-flying the air space of sovereign states and bombing them?

Secondly, there is a civil war going on, massacres, car bombs, suicide bombs attacking civilians deliberately, heavy fighting including execution of whole groups of captured Syrian policemen filmed on video... don't they count for you? The regime is fighting "its own citizens", true enough, as its own citizens have taken up arms and are fighting the government, massacring other citizens and so on. If they weren't killing government forces there wouldn't be a civil war. There are now also many foreign mercenaries, armed, paid and the new ones trained, by various "friends of Syria" but as you yourself have always insisted the rebellion started within Syria.

Those are the facts, you only notice a fraction of them.

The long article above says quite well what is happening in the country, you should read it.

PS. Here's an article about your success story state, the new democratic and delightful Libya - well worth destroying a whole economy and it's social system for it seems:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-22509303

If Syria is lucky maybe they will have the same glowing destiny?
Bruce Hooker - on 14 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:

> Why don't you watch the video?

What, this one?

"Outrage at Syrian rebel shown 'eating soldier's heart' "

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22519770

Looks like I chose the right title for this thread!
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> The regime is fighting "its own citizens", true enough, as its own citizens have taken up arms and are fighting the government,

So the women and children bombed in a bread queue have "taken up arms" have they?

A war crime is a war crime; it doesn't matter who carries it out - well, to most people it doesn't. You seem to think that only those on the 'other side' carry them out, hence your defence of an air force bombing the civilian citizens that, theoretically at least, it is there to defend.
Rob Exile Ward on 14 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: I'm suprised you didn't put a smiley on the end of your post as well as an exclamation mark.

Oh wait, no - you must be a puzzled - how are the US/UK/French/World Jewish Conspiracy benefitting from this, because obviously they're the only ones behind any propaganda and they control the world media.
Bruce Hooker - on 14 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:

> So the women and children bombed in a bread queue have "taken up arms" have they?

And all the others blown up by rebel car bombs and suicide bombers, not to mention all the ethnic massacres.... all were deliberately targeted? You are so selective in the deaths you see.

The notion of "war crime" is weird, as if war itself by its very nature isn't a crime. I haven't defended any killing of civilians but when the Allies bombed Le Havre just before the D-Day landings they killed loads of civilians - I knew someone who's wife was killed - was that a war crime too?

You support those who started the civil war, in Syria as in Libya, then shed crocodile tears over the resulting deaths, you fanatically support the most violent and murderous regime in the Middle East - Israel - then pretend to be shocked that I don't join in with you cheer-leading the rebel forces in Syria, heart eaters, car bombers, suicide bombers, throat slitter and all... a real armchair war-monger as my Granddad used to say.
Bruce Hooker - on 14 May 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

> how are the US/UK/French/World Jewish Conspiracy benefitting from this

The ordinary people aren't that much except perhaps the Israelis, but someone in power must see an interest in the war in Syria otherwise they wouldn't be financing and arming it.
drunken monkey - on 14 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: Why would the Israelis benefit from whats going on in Syria?

there is a very real risk of some extreme islamic group(s) getting control in Syria - Which would make the Assad regime look like a bunch of pussies.

That is the real reason why the US/UK/Frnace have yet to arm the opposition - The worry that they would be arming an even more dangerous group of people.
Rob Exile Ward on 14 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: but someone in power must see an interest in the war in Syria '...

Ah, now this is revealing. Just as in Libya you couldn't demonstrate how the west stood to gain by the overthrow of Gadafy, but despite that assumed the West was behind it all, exactly the same in Syria - something bad is happening, it MUST be the US behind it even if you can't quite explain how or why...
MargieB - on 14 May 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward: Given its position geographically Syria is of huge interest to the West {that mediterranean seaboard is a gateway to the West] and to the East, {its Turkish border} so the post on the strategic position of Somalia and its similarity in this sense seems particularly relevant. But to attribute the revolutions in the middle east to something other than their own internal political progressions is an overstatement. The middle east has grown financially, and thus educationally, has a spike in population and under employment and these internal changes have produced dissatisfaction. couple that in Syria with multiple identities and war has ensued. Seems to me East and West have opted for containment of Syria and intervention seems to be to try and create a viable negotiation- emphasis on viable. Southern Syria is a viable area to regain some sort of control over with multi party representation, and a no flying zone, I predict, could to be introduced in the south now to facilitate peace. Intervention that might stop the chas
MikeTS - on 14 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to TobyA)
>
> [...]
>
> Good idea, it wasn't just one Israeli air-raid... and BTW when are you going to say if you think Israel is justified in over-flying the air space of sovereign states and bombing them?
>

Syria declared war on Israel in 1948 and has invaded it 3 times - the two countries have ever since been in a state of war. So Syria must accept being attacked under the rules of war.
Also, under the responsibility to protect (R2P) UN Mandate, Israel is required to protect its citizens against attempted genocide. This is the only use that such missiles would have in the hands of Hezbullah, which is explicit as wanting to kill all Jews who live in the Middle East in a non-Muslim country
MikeTS - on 14 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to Rob Exile Ward)
>
> [...]
>
>but someone in power must see an interest in the war in Syria otherwise they wouldn't be financing and arming it.

Well it sure is not the Israelis, who have no good outcomes. Either continue with Assad, who will continue to fight Israel to the last Lebanese and Palestinian. Or see yet another Islamic fundamentalist state on its border.

Their best bet is that all sides (FSA, Assad, Iran, Hezbullah) weaken each other significantly..

Bruce Hooker - on 14 May 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

I could and did demonstrate the motives that drove the Western destruction of Libya, as did numerous journalists - you missed this, but you shouldn't blame others for this.

Concerning Syria the motives of those supporting the Sunni takeover aren't hard to see, my remark was for those who said there weren't any, obviously Cameron, Obama, Hollande and the rest are putting money and efforts into helping the overthrow of the Syrian government for some reasons, something drove the nigh on hysterical ravings of Clinton when the Russians and Chinese blocked her replay of Libya scenario.

These reasons are not openly admitted but not hard to guess - Assad has never been a favourite person, for some quite good reasons, and a Baathist - Socialist (in theory) and Arab nationalist, he comes from the same political family as Nasser, Gaddafi, Saddam and others. Whatever their shortcomings their basic policy was to regain their independence from the West - France, Britain and the USA, this enmity is nothing new.

Most have gone, Syria remains, supporting Iran and Hezbollah - that alone is enough for the West to dislike them and in a unipolar world, dislike means death in the medium term, as and when an opportunity arises. The USSR is no longer there to calm Doctor Strangelove, he does what he wants.

Oil, pipelines, strategic rivalry, desire to squeeze Iran, defend Israel, sow up the Middle East completely, between conservative client monarchies, Israel, Turkey and the rest a reserve of wasteland which poses no threat to anyone (in their perception, they may be wrong), the motives aren't hard to see... then it's pivot to the Pacific, and China watch out... although they may find that a morsel which is harder to swallow.
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> And all the others blown up by rebel car bombs and suicide bombers, not to mention all the ethnic massacres.... all were deliberately targeted? You are so selective in the deaths you see.

Bruce, stop lying. There are terrorist groups fighting against the Assad regime who are committing crimes too, I haven't denied this and I don't think anyone else has either. I find your mindset very bizarre though: because you see one side as wrong (fair enough) you end up supporting the other (morally repugnant).

> you fanatically support the most violent and murderous regime in the Middle East - Israel -

Lies again. I don't at all, I've been highly critical of Israeli actions in the past and I think the current Israeli government's actions (and sometime inaction) in the West Bank over the illegal settlements are both morally wrong and self defeating. I just think that Israel has the right to exist and be secure within it's borders. Now having said all that, I think that the claim that Israel is "the most violent and murderous regime in the Middle East" would be rather difficult to support these days - definitely in the last couple of years the Syrian government has killed far more Syrians than the Israelis have killed Palestinians. And if you want to go further back in time then you have to chalk up all those killed in Hamaa or all those killed in the Syrian occupation of Lebanon to the Assad regime. Body counts are pretty pointless, but even in that brutal way I'm not sure your point stands.

> then pretend to be shocked that I don't join in with you cheer-leading the rebel forces in Syria, heart eaters, car bombers, suicide bombers, throat slitter and all...

Again, stop making stuff up. Did I ask you to cheer-lead for anyone? I've asked you if you think it's right for the Syrian air force to bomb Syrian towns and villages? Do you think everyone in a rebel controlled part of Syria is a combatant? If it helps you; no - I don't think it's right for terrorist groups to target civilians in govt. controlled parts of Syria with car bombs and the like.
Bruce Hooker - on 14 May 2013
In reply to MikeTS:

I realise there is no formal peace and Israel still occupies a chunk of Syria but the impression I had was that Israel had come to a modus vivendi with Syria of late. You blame them for declaring war on Israel but omit to mention that the first one was due to the UDI and armed takeover of Palestine by the Jewish minority to establish Israel. Israel was born by violence, it can't complain about the violence of others... but, as I said, that seemed to have been put on hold until these recent raids.

The most likely reason is a change of policy, the fear of a Muslim Brotherhood regime seems to have gone... we don't know why though but I doubt that it was just a random act, that's not Israel's style.
Bruce Hooker - on 14 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:

> Bruce, stop lying

I'm not lying, you have gone on about alleged bombing of civilians in bread queues on the thread three times, not once have you mentioned the violence of the rebels against civilians... until this last post, to cover your arse which looked distinctly naked.

> Lies again. (2)

You pay lip service to critics of Israel but never question the fundamental right for Israel to exist slap bang in the middle of the Middle East - you don't even recognise the rights of the Palestinians to their land nor the existence of a genocide. That's fanatical in any objective book - you even tried repeatedly to persuade me to visit evil regime!

> Again, stop making stuff up. (3)

Does the Syrian army deliberately target civilians any more than NATO did in Libya and Yugoslavia? Probably they did, or at least didn't stop an attack when the others were amongst civilians - they are soldiers, they are told to defeat the enemy. You've haven't even any way of knowing if the bread queue story is true - the Arab League mission found that many of the stories of massacres by government troops were invented.

> I don't think it's right for terrorist groups to target civilians in govt. controlled parts of Syria with car bombs and the like.

Well that's one good thing then... now what about the recent Israeli bombings, still playing coy on that?

In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> You've haven't even any way of knowing if the bread queue story is true

What were you saying about picking and choosing which deaths count earlier?

Through site visits, Human Rights Watch documented eight air strikes on four bakeries in Aleppo city, al-Bab, and Mare`, which killed at least thirty-five civilians who were waiting in line for bread. Human Rights Watch also documented attacks using surface-fire artillery on seven other bakeries. According to a local opposition group, Syrian forces have attacked 78 bakeries across Syria, either by air strikes or by artillery shelling. The pattern and number of these attacks suggest that government forces deliberately targeted civilians at the bakeries and breadlines.
http://www.hrw.org/reports/2013/04/10/death-skies (p. 25)

BTW, I suggested that you visited Israel because you claimed it was a "racist" state; I was trying to explain to you that if you went you'd notice that Israel is actually rather multi-racial - it might be a religiously-prejudiced state (although that's hard to fully claim when there are Muslim and Christian Palestinian MPs in the Knesset) but saying it's racist as a state doesn't make sense when it's obviously a multiracial society.

Now I know you would prefer to rant about Israel than have to actually confront the reality that the Syrian government is killing Syrian civilians (and, something that you don't seem to want to know about, Palestinian refugee families living in Damascus as well). Once again your defence of Assad's actions seems to be "well Israel is worse", well I'm not sure that's actually true anymore - the Syrian government seems more willing to kill Syrian civilians than the Israeli government is willing to kill Palestinian civilians.
Bruce Hooker - on 14 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:

Your posts are getting as desperate and irrational as Western governments at present. You do realise that "Human Rights Watch" are contested by some and financed by private companies from N America and also by the Dutch government? Like the famous "Syrian Observatory for Human Rights" run by a shopkeeper in Coventry they are hardly "reliable sources", they are as much axe-grinders as you are.

As for Israel not being a racist state, here your logic reaches new lows - South Africa under apartheid was "obviously a multiracial society" too but it was still racist! Israel is the clearest racist state, it actually defines itself as a "Jewish state", and one of the problems back in the days when they pretended to negotiate with Palestinians was that they insisted on maintaining this racist definition in any future state solution.

I'm not saying "Israel is worse", you really don't follow here, I was asking you to give your views on Israel's acts of aggression on it's neighbours, something you can't bring yourself to do apparently.

My real "gripe" with you and others like you is the way you don't seem to even consider the responsibility that resides with the sorcerer's apprentices that set off these conflicts. There are many states in the world which are far from perfect but have, over the years, developed social and political systems which function, more or less efficiently, more or less corruptly and more or less on the lines which we take for granted in the developed world. In many there is a fragile equilibrium between rival groups like in Syria, or between areas, and "tribes", like in Libya and elsewhere. Those who come along and, for whatever motives, destroy these equilibriums and let loose mayhem and bloodshed have a responsibility for what follows... and you are a prime example of this attitude.

Earlier examples were Yugoslavia, an even headier mixture, their period of "improvement" nearly destroyed them, then Iraq should have warned anyone of the risks of opening up Pandora's box (have you read the "Prince of the Marshes"?) and yet it seems that no lessons are learnt and good Samaritans are still getting it wrong - always far from the bloodshed they encourage, of course.

In reality you don't have to be Einstein to twig that those behind these "well meaning democrats" there are quite different, and less altruistic, motives at work, the "humanitarian" angle is only for those who "need to believe".
Bruce Hooker - on 14 May 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

As you want me to give you ways of understanding the world rather than working them out for yourself, here are two short articles that may help. They cover in much more detail and with references the recent changes in the tactics of various actors in the Syrian conflict. I don't guarantee they are gospel but they seem to have arrived at similar conclusions to me and obviously have more time and talent to spend expressing them than me.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/america-is-loosing-its-covert-syria-war-us-sponsored-al-nusra-rebels-de...

http://www.globalresearch.ca/buying-time-in-syria/5334748

The second is linked from the first.
ice.solo - on 14 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

those posts are no worse than the majority of whats out there, but Chossudovsky needs to be kept in perspective (any 'report' that claims authority by starting with 'confirmed by CNN'(!) needs filtering). he promotes a particular perspective that is not always balanced, but represents a 'side' very well and gets widely published. hes good at connecting only the dots he wants to and glossing over others.

tho currently being questioned over how regional all this may become, syria is a very encapsulated conflict by recent standards, most of whats happening inside the country (by all sides) is undisclosed. with the govt still functioning its all still within sovereignty so international agencies can be denied access (giving huge play to the islamist factions who ignore this and have their own well developed information services).
the recent internet shut down hints at some avenues that external groups are taking.

id be very wary of reading too much into the armchair finger-pointing of anyone whos not been on the ground.
In reply to ice.solo:

> Chossudovsky needs to be kept in perspective

Chossudovsky is a hack; on security politics he's a blogger and a dishonest or crappy one at that. Maybe he's a great economist, but he just makes stuff up about international politics.

The article that Bruce linked is a (like so much else on Global Research) a bunch of unsourced assertions. Maybe the CNN article it cites is perfectly sourced and completely accurate but then the Prof. says "Confirmed by CNN, the Al Nusra terrorists have also been trained in the use of chemical weapons by special forces on contract to the Pentagon". This is simply bollocks - the article makes no mention of al Nusra. He then asserts al Nusra is directly funded and supported by the Pentagon - but offers no evidence of this because, of course, he doesn't have any. I actually wonder whether the Prof. is just a bit more thick than manipulative because his assertions are so transparently unproven. Bruce wants to ignore the HRW report by criticising the organizations backers because they actually sent researchers into Syria to see the bombing sites and interview survivors, witnesses, doctors and the like. Rather we should be believing a retired economist in Canada talking about a country on the other side of the world with assertions based on things that news reports don't actually say!

All Chossudovsky really seems to know is that he REALLY hates the US. Well fair enough, they have plenty to answer for, but he really shouldn't go making up stuff for the gullible to read and believe.
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> I'm not saying "Israel is worse",

What exactly does:

> the most violent and murderous regime in the Middle East - Israel

mean then? Does being "the most violent and murderous" not make them the worse? But let's leave the morally loaded word "worse" aside then - I think the Syrian government is proving itself to be more "violent and murderous" in the number of its own citizens it is killing, I guess you understood that perfectly well but would rather not consider it.
Postmanpat on 15 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to ice.solo)
>
>
Maybe the CNN article it cites is perfectly sourced and completely accurate but then the Prof. says "Confirmed by CNN, the Al Nusra terrorists have also been trained in the use of chemical weapons by special forces on contract to the Pentagon". This is simply bollocks
>
The article actually says,

"The training [in chemical weapons], which is taking place in Jordan and Turkey, involves how to monitor and secure stockpiles and handle weapons sites and materials, according to the sources. Some of the contractors are on the ground in Syria working with the rebels to monitor some of the sites, according to one of the officials."

which surely means they are being trained how to control and make safe such weapons not how to use them, so pretty much the opposite of the way Chossudovsky portrays it. Who'd have thought, a wilful misinterpretation of a simple text.......? :-)
ice.solo - on 15 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to ice.solo)
>
> [...]
>
> Chossudovsky is a hack;

or yes, you could put it that way.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Bruce Hooker - on 15 May 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

> he promotes a particular perspective that is not always balanced,

I didn't say he was :-) but like all sources, it's a source, up to each of us if we want to drink. The proof is Toby can't stand him, another reason why I post links to the site from time to time. Toby says he's biased, which he obviously is, but then so are all bloggers, Toby included (and me, you and uncle Tom Cobbly).

On the other hand once registered you receive a regular email with loads of stuff, much of which is far fetched (IMO) but also they trawl around and even cite CNN and the New York Times etc when there's something which suits them.

I thought the explanation of the perceptible change in US utterances over the last few weeks was valid though.
Bruce Hooker - on 15 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:

Saying this of Israel wasn't given as a justification of Assad, it was a criticism of your attitude, you accuse me of supporting Assad yet support Israel yourself... a state which I think is far worse than Syria by its acts, its lack of legitimacy, built on the land of others who it has crushed. It was a comment about you (in reply to your criticism of me), not a defence of Assad. Do you see the difference?

Syria is a state that came into being after the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, a period of French domination and then independence. All segments of the population have equal rights, it is not based on institutionalized racism and it is not dominated by a group of foreign settlers who have driven out the indigenous population in the 20th century. All of which makes it "better" than Israel.

Now if the people you support and encourage would leave it alone it might be able to get back to being a reasonable place to live rather than the hell it is now.
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> It was a comment about you (in reply to your criticism of me), not a defence of Assad. Do you see the difference?

Bruce, you don't need to personalise this - I always held your support of Assad as Qaddafi to be based in your real beliefs and values, seeing them as standing up to US imperialism (regardless of how silly I think that is). But now you're telling me its just posturing to try and annoy me?! I'm disappointed. I thought you really cared about this stuff, and weren't just internet trolling.

> All segments of the population have equal rights,

To be bombed by the Syrian air force?

> All of which makes it "better" than Israel.

How many Syrian civilians does the Syrian government have to kill before it's not better than Israel?

> Now if the people you support and encourage would leave it alone it might be able to get back to being a reasonable place to live

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/said-benarbia/mazen-darwish-an-ordinary_b_1618966.html
dek - on 15 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:
Al-Nakba day, isn't it?
I was thinking Sheik Hooker, was being unusually cheery today. The arabs/muslim/western 'JOO' haters, can all agree on on something for 24hrs at least!
Bruce Hooker - on 15 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:

I always wonder if you are really as dopey as you pretend to be - or are you just winding me up... It's not me who continually personalizes the debate, it's you who is saying I support Assad or Gaddafi when I have frequently explained, patiently and in simple terms, that this is not my principal motivation.

This is particularly true for Assad, I did find Gaddafi a far more interesting person, his periods of just going off to the desert, insisting on a tent on the Elysée lawn when he came to Paris, his championing causes such as African unity and independence, a novel African monetary system to reduce dollar enslavement, African communications satellites, the social welfare system of Libya which I think was unique for Africa and many more policies that set him aside from a rather mundane ruler like Assad. But in neither case is this the basis for my objections to the deliberate destabilization and ultimate destruction of Libya and Syria, and many others before, which is simply the belief that the principle set out in the original UN charter of non-inference in the internal affairs of sovereign states.

I've said this time and time again and you still come back at me accusing me of being a fan of this or that ruler, and as such supporting any bad deeds that they do or are accused of doing. How many time must one say this for you to notice, or are you just using the same policy as Clinton and Goebbels, the bigger the lie the more it will be believed as long as you shout loud enough?

> How many Syrian civilians does the Syrian government have to kill before it's not better than Israel?

He has a very very long way to go before he gets near the numbers killed, driven from their lands, maintained in misery in open concentration camps as Israel has done and that is without even touching on the harm that Israel's has done over more than half a century in it's slow but horrifying genocide of a whole people, the attempted destruction of their very existence and the literal destruction of Palestine as a place, all those villages bulldozed flat, names effaced from the map and new colonies built on the rubble and blood of the former habitants... Assad has a long way to go compared to your pals.

Bruce Hooker - on 15 May 2013
In reply to dek:

> The arabs/muslim/western 'JOO' haters

Why do you have to keep being so offensive? I have never given you any reason to call me a "jew hater" or "jew baiter", nor even "joo hater", so why do it? I don't hate Jews at all, it would be hating myself, I just hate what some Jews are doing, especially when it is done in the name of Jews as a whole as I know not all agree with what is happening in Palestine.

I also hate what Mrs Clinton has done and said, but does that make me a woman hater or a Clinton hater? All women are not Mrs Clinton and all Clintons have not done or applauded the foul acts that she has. The same for Jews, by lumping all Jews together as you do you are playing the game of those who do reason in such ways, those who sought to annihilate a whole people as if all such a thing as collective guilt could exist.

So unless you have a specific reason for saying what you do of me (in which case tell me so I can understand) then please stop. If it is meant as a joke I don't find it funny.
MikeTS - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to TobyA)
Israel is the clearest racist state, it actually defines itself as a "Jewish state",


By Jewish it means in the general sense of a having a Jewish culture, like officially recognizing Jewish holidays. The approx 20% of non-Jews have full citizenship rights: to vote and be elected (there are a number of Muslim MKs), to conduct their religion (there is no problem with worshipping in Mosques), and access to the law (there is a Muslim High Court Judge).
.
MikeTS - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to MikeTS)
>
> mention that the first one was due to the UDI and armed takeover of Palestine by the Jewish minority to establish Israel.

Tell me. If the intent of Syria and other 5 countries who invaded Israel were so keen to look after Palestinian Arabs, why
1. Did they not set up a Palestinian state when they occupied the West Bank from 49 to 67?
2. Have they (mainly Syria and Lebanon) refused for 65 years to give civil rights to the refugees living in their countries?
MikeTS - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to dek)
>
> [...]
>
> I have never given you any reason to call me a "jew hater"

Actually, in a post a few months ago, you agreed that the solution to the Middle East was for Jews to leave it.
Bruce Hooker - on 15 May 2013
In reply to MikeTS:

But the question of Israel as a Jewish state, rather than just a state where many people who are Jewish is central, surely? The demand that all parties accept this is one of the things that blocked negotiations, when there were negotiations, wasn't it?

Would the idea of a single secular state in which the Jewish religion had no particular statute, one religion among others, be acceptable to Jewish Israelis at present?
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> He has a very very long way to go before he gets near the numbers killed,

Really? If he hasn't, he's gone a long way in just two years to catch up with Israel's last fifty.

> ...driven from their lands, maintained in misery in open concentration camps

He's giving that record a good go too. UNHCR has recorded 600,000 refugees now in neighbouring countries and its probably up to 2.5 million displaced over all. http://syrianrefugees.eu/

OK, so now you're saying you don't support him - fine, but I must say I think you're idea that dictatorial regimes are somehow "stable" if it wasn't for outside conspiracy just doesn't make any sense historically. Assad's exploitation and oppression of the majority of people in Syria meant he was atop an inherently unstable social situation, and the stability that was there came from systemic violence and oppression of the Syrian people. You can't stop ideas from elsewhere crossing national boundaries, and sooner or later people want more freedom. Some states give up and give it to them - Hungary, Russia, Tunisia - to some degree Egypt with no or limited violence. Others don't and protest becomes war. It's no conspiracy.
Bruce Hooker - on 15 May 2013
In reply to MikeTS:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
> [...]
>
> Actually, in a post a few months ago, you agreed that the solution to the Middle East was for Jews to leave it.

Yes, of course I did, but because I don't hate Jews... and I don't hate Arabs either. On a point of detail, I as referring to Jews who were recent (Zionist era) settlers or descendants of such... just like for all colonial populations.
dek - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

>
> So unless you have a specific reason for saying what you do of me (in which case tell me so I can understand) then please stop. If it is meant as a joke I don't find it funny.
You never STFU about, the 'Jewish state' even after two years of sectarian Islamic slaughter and violence, which has absolutley Nothing to do with them!
You've been described before as "obsessed", you realy are! You just never acknowledge it.
MikeTS - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to MikeTS)
>
one religion among others, be acceptable to Jewish Israelis at present?

Actually, that is currently the case in Israel: there is no law that says that Judaism is the state religion.
The government has always provided support for Jewish and Christian (Eastern Orthodox, Latin [Catholic], Gregorian-Armenian, Armenian-Catholic, Syrian [Catholic], Chaldean [Uniate], Greek Catholic Melkite, Maronite, and Syrian Orthodox). In 1961 it gave Muslim Shari'a courts exclusive jurisdiction over personal status. And later it recognised the Druze, the Evangelical Episcopal Church, and the Bahá'í religions.

So (as often happens) you are 100% wrong!


MikeTS - on 15 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
>
> [...]
>
> Really? If he hasn't, he's gone a long way in just two years to catch up with Israel's last fifty.
>
> [...]
>
> He's giving that record a good go too.

Actually Toby, Assad is way past that now.

Deaths from Israeli- Arab wars 48-73
Israel: 6,800-11,100
Egypt: 23,700-40,000
Syria: 5,000-11,500

From two Intifadas, about 3650 Palestinians and 1142 Israelis:

Source is a weird, obsessive, and unfortunately fascinating site called necrometrics.com

MikeTS - on 15 May 2013
In reply to MikeTS:

But a long way to go to catch up with Afghanistan (maybe 1.8 million) and Iran-Iraq (1.25 million),
Bruce Hooker - on 15 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:

> OK, so now you're saying you don't support him

I said that right from the beginning but you pretended not to notice.

As for refugees, how many Palestinians are refugees at present, how many millions? And that's been going on for over half a century. Not only this, as once again the thread is off on a detour, in the case of Syria you appear to be blaming the government for the civil war rather than those who are trying to overthrow the government by force with lot of foreign help and impose a religious dictatorship.

> Assad's exploitation and oppression of the majority of people in Syria

What do you base this statement on?

> and sooner or later people want more freedom

Which people? Don't some also want bread and a house to live in? Are you sure you are not taking the wealthier and those with access to the media abroad as representative for the entire people?

> It's no conspiracy.

Who's talking about a conspiracy? The events are well known, the scenario, and time line too, as in Libya and Kosovo and elsewhere. Anyone can look it all up.

Coming back to the sort of question you ask, how many have to die in a civil war before the civil war becomes "unprofitable"? How many need to die for "freedom" especially when it's the sort of freedom they have in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan?
biped - on 15 May 2013
In reply to no-one in particular:

I suppose this was inevitable....
Bruce Hooker - on 15 May 2013
In reply to dek:

But why does my opposition to a state based on religious criteria, especially when imposed by violence by a minority in a land in which it has been alien for nearly 2000 years proof of my "hating" all people of this same human group?

It's not me who insists on a "Jewish State" in Palestine it's the Zionists and their supporters, I would much prefer a secular state in Palestine for all people, religious or not... just like the OLP.

As for being obsessed, I admit I am obsessed, obsessed at trying to find a way to end the never-ending war in the Middle East, and threats of war which emanate from Israel. Threats against Palestinians, against Iran, against Lebanon and not just threats but actual attacks against Syria - several dozen Syrians died in the last one. I think any civilized person should be obsessed by such things.
Rob Exile Ward on 15 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: 'The events are well known, the scenario, and time line too, as in Libya and Kosovo and elsewhere. Anyone can look it all up.'

Yes, in the same way that they can look up the destruction of the WTCs or the US failure to land on the moon. Or look up how the Duke of Edinburgh arranged for Dodi to be killed...

Smart, these Lizards/Jews/masons/???
Rob Exile Ward on 15 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: 'obsessed at trying to find a way to end the never-ending war in the Middle East,'

No you're not, you're a pathetic, ranting diaappointed communist locked in a time warp who will never recover from the bitter truth that the fairytales of man's perfectabilty and a paradise to come spun by Karl have been shown to be just that - fairytales. For the consumption of children and idiots. To continue to buy that stuff in the 2000's is to forever exclude yourself from the world of rational discourse and a genuine search for solutions and the alleviation of suffering by well meaning people.
MikeTS - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to TobyA)
>
> [...]
>
> I said that right from the beginning but you pretended not to notice.
>
> As for refugees, how many Palestinians are refugees at present, how many millions? And that's been going on for over half a century.

Originally there were about 600,000. Rather less than the number of Jews who were made refugees from Muslim countries during the 1950s. Difference was that Israel absorbed Jewish refugees. But Arab countries rejected the Palestinians, and used them, and the UNRWA, to institutionalise anti-Israeli hatred in the middle east
Bruce Hooker - on 15 May 2013
In reply to MikeTS:

So Israel is not a Jewish state, a Jewish homeland for you?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel

"In its Basic Laws Israel defines itself as a Jewish and Democratic State; it is the world's only Jewish-majority state."

in which we find that "Parties or candidates that deny the existence of Israel as a Jewish state, oppose the democratic system, or incite racism are prohibited."

As Israel doesn't have a single document as it's constitution like the USA you have to poke around for definitions of the above and the Jewishness of the state is to be found in the "Law of Return":

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Immigration/Text_of_Law_of_Return.html

"Right of aliyah** 1. Every Jew has the right to come to this country as an oleh.**"

It is quite extraordinary that a person who lives in Israel should ignore such basic facts about the place he lives in.

To provide further information about discrimination in Israel against people who are not Jewish, here's an article:

http://mondoweiss.net/2011/09/background-on-israel-as-a-jewish-state-and-the-ongoing-discrimination-...

You're never too old to learn.

Coming back on subject, do you condemn the Israeli bombing of Syria a few days ago killing many Syrians? If so how do you justify it legally and morally?
MikeTS - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to MikeTS)
>

>
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel
>
> "In its Basic Laws Israel defines itself as a Jewish and Democratic State;

You are completely confused about the difference between Jewish as a culture, an ethnicity, and a religion.
Bruce Hooker - on 15 May 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker) 'obsessed at trying to find a way to end the never-ending war in the Middle East,'
>
> No you're not, you're a pathetic, ranting diaappointed communist locked in a time warp who will never recover from the bitter truth that the fairytales of man's perfectabilty and a paradise to come spun by Karl have been shown to be just that - fairytales. For the consumption of children and idiots. To continue to buy that stuff in the 2000's is to forever exclude yourself from the world of rational discourse and a genuine search for solutions and the alleviation of suffering by well meaning people.

This sort of delirium shows who is out of touch with reality... I've said many times I am no longer a member of any political party, although why I should have to justify such things I don't know, I don't pry into your private life, why do you presume upon mine?

I imagine you are like many basically apolitical people, ie. conservatives, you have such a hang up about anyone who you imagine isn't quite unsupportable, it dives you into a frenzy.

But why? Live your life, I'll live mine, can't you accept that not everyone agrees with you? You come across as rather out of balance of late.

MG - on 15 May 2013
In reply to MikeTS: can non Jews emigrate to Israel?
Bruce Hooker - on 15 May 2013
In reply to MikeTS:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
> You are completely confused about the difference between Jewish as a culture, an ethnicity, and a religion.

Then so was Ben-Gurion apparently.

You must read quickly if you got through all those examples of discrimination in Israel against non-Jews so quickly.
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> I said that right from the beginning but you pretended not to notice.

No you didn't. You have continually laid all the blame for the war on those Syrians who disagree with Assad calling them either western pawns or religious fundamentalists; you denied that there was a mass, peaceful uprising against his rule; and you have defended, denied or countered with whataboutery when the Syrian armed forces have killed Syrian civilians. You continue to promote the conspiracy theory that everything would be social-democratic nirvana in Syria if it wasn't for the evil Americans/Israelis stirring things up, and take a ridiculously orientalist view of Syrians as not being able to decide for themselves what they want.
Bruce Hooker - on 15 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
>
> [...]
>
> No you didn't. You have continually laid all the blame for the war on those Syrians who disagree with Assad calling them either western pawns or religious fundamentalists; you denied that there was a mass, peaceful uprising against his rule; and you have defended, denied or countered with whataboutery when the Syrian armed forces have killed Syrian civilians. You continue to promote the conspiracy theory that everything would be social-democratic nirvana in Syria if it wasn't for the evil Americans/Israelis stirring things up, and take a ridiculously orientalist view of Syrians as not being able to decide for themselves what they want.

I think you must read ukc in a parallel universe, one which is similar but slightly different.

An alternative could be that you have just chosen to see what you want to see, the aspects that sort your narrative and where I, according to your prejudices, fit in. Can't you get it into your head that the problem is, for me and many others, that a sovereign country is just that and foreign powers should not interfere. Even you can't deny that outside forces are at play in Syria, and have been in the whole Middle East for generations - they were back in the days of T E Lawrence - he was one of them - just why do you imagine they still aren't today.. It's not conspiracy it's diplomacy, is now, always was and probably always should be.

You can't really be that stupid, surely? No, it's not possible - the parallel universe must be the answer.
Bruce Hooker - on 16 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

should be "suit your narrative", and at the end, "always will be"

It was late.
ads.ukclimbing.com
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> Even you can't deny that outside forces are at play in Syria, and have been in the whole Middle East for generations

Of course they are, although you seem much less interested in Iranian, Hezbollah and perhaps Russian outside forces than the ones you disapprove of; but that's not the point - ideas never stop at borders. That's why the Arab spring went from country to country, or why the rejection of communism in 89 went from country to country. You seem to want to keep calling me stupid as if that proves something, yet you seem to genuinely think that Syria was stable before the protests started. My point is autocracies and dictatorships are inherently unstable and rely on violence, oppression and some cooption to keep them upright.
MargieB - on 16 May 2013
In reply to TobyA: Inherently unstable - Middle Ease is an interesting history of strong leadership creating Saudi Arabia and a huge sense of national pride -but what shifts this point of view? Greater affluence and education create a desire to have a say in governance- both of which has now occurred in Saudi Arabia. Tribal cohesion is at its strongest in that part of the Arabian peninsula but they recognise that communcation and desire for change is strong. They are responding by attemping the move from" benevolent" dictatorship to constitutional monarchy {hence recent Royal visits from UK which is a push and shove in this direction}. Or what may occur there ? Time for UK energy independence?
MargieB - on 16 May 2013
In reply to TobyA: Inherently unstable - Middle East is an interesting history of strong leadership creating Saudi Arabia and a huge sense of national pride -but what shifts this point of view? Greater affluence and education create a desire to have a say in governance- both of which has now occurred in Saudi Arabia. Tribal cohesion is at its strongest in that part of the Arabian peninsula but they recognise that communcation and desire for change is strong. They are responding by attemping the move from" benevolent" dictatorship to constitutional monarchy {hence recent Royal visits from UK which is a push and shove in this direction}. Or what may occur there ? Time for UK energy independence?
Bruce Hooker - on 16 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:

> Of course they are, although you seem much less interested in Iranian, Hezbollah and perhaps Russian outside forces than the ones you disapprove of.

That's a logical problem that often comes up on forums, when I refer to "outside influences" in a negative way that doesn't mean I think all outside influences are equal, to be for or against such influences without making value judgements on them would be ridiculous. To which you could reply that my overall ban on interference in the affairs of sovereign states can come under the same criticism, which is true. So when is interference ok? When is it aid or assistance not interference? That's the question, and there is no simple answer, it is a subjective judgement.

> You seem to want to keep calling me stupid as if that proves something

Stop dissing me and I'll do the same - that's how it goes.

> yet you seem to genuinely think that Syria was stable before the protests started.

It was, especially when you take into account the explosive mixture of human groups that live there in a total patchwork mix-up. Lebanon next door has a similar mixture and has been extremely unstable since independence, which rather disproves you contention that it's "autocracies and dictatorships" which are "inherently unstable". The number of stable dictatorships at present in the Middle East appear to owe their stability more to being friends with the country which has thousands of soldiers, ships, planes and all the rest in the area more than their political structure.

What puzzles me, and hence the "stupid" remarks on this question, is that I can't understand how you haven't noticed a more consistent characteristic of "unstable" countries - the often fall foul of US foreign policy in one way or another before their "intrinsic instability" manifests itself! It could be my suspicious nature but I can't work out whether someone who doesn't notice this, despite being obviously a keen follower of world affairs, is slow on the uptake or just pretending to be.

If I were you I'd prefer the second logical possibility.
ice.solo - on 16 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

another blurb from the economist:


http://www.economist.com/blogs/lexington/2013/05/america-and-syria

some good points throughout that usually fail to get a mention by the media that focuses on the pop version of cowboy-indian battles and sound-byte politicking (of which the economist has had its share too).

i particularly like the initial description of camerons stance against obamas - the team that ganged up to molest iraq and libya etc are not playing together well on this one.

the mentions later of the USs distance from its assumed allies in the mid-east (saudi, qatar, jordan) is good to see being broadcast. the evil parody of 'the west' doesnt seem to stick in this case, where the team captain isnt playing.

theres a nice paragraph in there too that hints at the reasons why intervention isnt the easy option it was in iraq, afghanistan, the balkans, libya (all the way back to korea perhaps), but interestingly the same reasons given for international impotency in somalia and tajikistan. essentially the sort of playing field and the type of operator needed just isnt there as yet; something very important to read into when one considers the assets the US has at hand for this sort of thing after massive reshuffling of the 'applications' end of its military. the same force that existed 12 years ago for afghanistan doesnt now, with funding shifts and bitch-slapping between different departments having gone in a different direction.
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> It was, especially when you take into account the explosive mixture of human groups that live there in a total patchwork mix-up.

Yes, enforced stability through structural and actual violence.

> The number of stable dictatorships at present in the Middle East appear to owe their stability more to being friends with the country which has thousands of soldiers, ships, planes and all the rest in the area more than their political structure.

No, if you don't look at their political structures, you can't ask why are they stable? Algeria hasn't seen much of the Arab spring, in part because they had more democracy than their neighbours already - but they're not close to the US. Bahrain has seen huge and prolonged social conflict, but closeness to the US had done little to protect them from that - rather its because their shia population was already politically and economically marginalised so can be repressed and ignored more easily. And so on.

> What puzzles me, and hence the "stupid" remarks on this question, is that I can't understand how you haven't noticed a more consistent characteristic of "unstable" countries - the often fall foul of US foreign policy in one way or another before their "intrinsic instability" manifests itself!

But it simply isn't true. Mubarak was the second biggest recipient of US military aid in the world after Israel, and he fell. Tunisia was an ally of the US and Ben Ali fell. Libya had been improving it's relations significantly with the west over the last decade when its people (or sections thereof I'm sure you'd prefer) turned on the state. The US had been active against Gaddafi for 20 years previous to that with little to show for it, but it was actually after relations were improving that he fell. Syria isn't a dissimilar case - Assad jr. had reached at least a 'cold peace' with the US and Israel. Many hawkish Israelis are clearly quite sad to see him threatened as he hasn't caused them any grief for years.

Instability is endogenously powered even if transnational ideational factors might be the spark. Instability can be latent, that's why it becomes revolutionary, and it is to a huge degree the result of the socio-economic- and socio-political- balance between state and society within each country.
Bruce Hooker - on 18 May 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

It looks to me as if Cameron and Hollande are just trying to play tough for domestic political reasons - both trying to lose their image as weak leaders. Hollande has found an easy battle to fight in Mali so that's enough for now and Cameron alone can't do much. It seems that Obama is just trying to put a good face on things, they can't get stuck in because of the Russian and Chinese vetoes but at the time Mrs Clinton was pretty keen. Whether there is really a difference between her and Obama I don't know but anyway she's out of it now, which is a good thing - another politician with things to prove - the worst kind.

Meanwhile Syrians continue to die for very little objective reason, led on by the West then dumped... people in the Middle East really should read the history of the Wild West - white man really does speak with forked tongue.
Bruce Hooker - on 18 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:

All very well in hindsight, but what were you saying beforehand? Not just you, of course, before the Tunisian and Egyptian explosions there was a French minister on holiday that summer in each - "staying with friends". One of the two actually got caught there when things started and went as far as offering French help with policing the "troubles" before she realised how serious they were! She soon got her marching orders though and back-pedalled rapidly - so clearly it was only after the movements had built up that the decision was made to let both "clients" drop.

Whether this corresponded to a thought out change of policy in Washington or an opportunistic reaction we won't know for a few years when those involved write their memoirs, I suspect, and not before hindsight has guided their pens too. Looking back on history is always the best way to avoid looking foolish.
MikeTS - on 18 May 2013
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to MikeTS) can non Jews emigrate to Israel?


Possible.
Mainly through family. E.g. married to or children of Israelis (who of course can be any religion). Or to/of Jews who immigrate - there are about 250,000 Israelis who came with Russian Jewish spouses or parents in this category.
Some refugees become citizens.
You can apply to be naturalized if you've lived in Israel legally for 3 years.
And, of course, anyone can convert. My local Chinese is run by an Israeli/Jewish/Chinese couple.

dek - on 18 May 2013
In reply to MikeTS:
I noticed those orthodox Jews were violently protesting about being conscripted for Military service, what happens if they just don't do it?
MikeTS - on 18 May 2013
In reply to dek:
> (In reply to MikeTS)
> I noticed those orthodox Jews were violently protesting about being conscripted for Military service, what happens if they just don't do it?

It's not clear yet. There is a provision to do national social service instead of military. The military's not so excited about the idea of drafting them (complicated, expensive). Most Israelis just want them to get into the workforce and pay taxes rather then live on social security and other handouts. (And to stop them telling secular Israelis what to do and not do all the time). At the moment the need to do military service is a significant legal barrier to ultra orthodox entering the workforce, since they avoid it through the mechanism of being 'students' all their lives whilst they raise families and don't work.

dek - on 18 May 2013
In reply to MikeTS:
> (In reply to dek)
> [...]. (And to stop them telling secular Israelis what to do and not do all the time). At the moment the need to do military service is a significant legal barrier to ultra orthodox entering the workforce, since they avoid it through the mechanism of being 'students' all their lives whilst they raise families and don't work.

Sounds just like somebody we all know here! :-))
MargieB - on 19 May 2013
In reply to TobyA; couldn't agree more. Saudi Arabia is an example of stability whilst having dictatorship but the characterisitics of old were of a large desert country and spread out population which made this work. It is no longer a rural country, and urbanisation has occurred, populations have concentrated in urban societies, bringing education,affluence with oil, population boom and now population bust with very high youth unemployment. Are these are now the factors that breed change from within?
Bruce Hooker - on 19 May 2013
In reply to MargieB:

> Are these are now the factors that breed change from within?

As most of the work is done by foreign workers with even less rights than Saudi women then I'd say the answer is "no".
MargieB - on 21 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: Yet the monarchy has instituted changes so more people are reperesented, thrown money at social services- they are running scared so they think they are in trouble from the Arab Spring. Of course none of these "reforms" create a society you or I would vaguely recognise- having been there I was grateful to be back in the West.But your views that a slavish economy must breed complacency in the indigenous people doesn't quite add up to what is happening. There has been agitation in Saudi Arabia, followed by repressive imprisonment - a formula that didn't much work elsewhere!!
Bruce Hooker - on 21 May 2013
In reply to MargieB:

> But your views that a slavish economy must breed complacency in the indigenous people doesn't quite add up to what is happening.

Not complacency but the situation of most of the actual workers, mostly foreigners sending money home to their families and such like, is so weak that they have little chance of defending their interests... It's a country where a Saudi woman who insists on driving (against the law apparently) is international news after all.

One day it will change perhaps, but maybe just an palace revolt and an easing of the situation if their main backer in the USA decides it's time... The problem being that any open intervention against the country with Mecca in it would be rather delicate.
ice.solo - on 22 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

worth watching the impending iranian elections in process.

the moderate candidates have all been refused to stand by the f*cking scholars. its worth noting that this includes the candidate backed by ahmadinejhad (who had peeled off frrom being on the ayatollahs christmas card list over his second term, despite how the western media portrayed it).
that a pro-nuclear development candidate who is buddies with the ayatollah is stacked for the elections is cause for concern. not necessarily because iran may be developing weapons, but because of how the west will take it.

with the contortion of islamist groups next door in syria, this could be a real twist of the knife for the region.
like afghanistan, iran will be key in any resolution that occurs with syria, and knocking the moderates and pro-western out of the election process wont help. of course it only reinforces the undemocratic element of irans government, but it also stirs up the huge youth and minority movements who are restless.
for unrest in syria to spread to lebanon and the borderlands of turkey and jordan is one thing - to infect iran is quite another and adds an entire new level too whats going on.
MikeTS - on 22 May 2013
In reply to ice.solo:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
>.
> for unrest in syria to spread to lebanon and the borderlands of turkey and jordan is one thing - to infect iran is quite another and adds an entire new level too whats going on.

The Syrian conflict seems to be turning into a major Shiite vs Sunni war. (Which is weird, since both sides agree that Allawites are infidels.) Hezbulllah (Shiites, like Iran) are reported to have lost hundreds of fighters in Syria fighting in support of Assad. And there is a stream of Lebanese Sunnis going in on the FSA side. So you have Muslim extremists - Hezbullah and Al Nusra - fighting each other, both under the same black banner.

See http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/22/world/middleeast/syria-developments.html?pagewanted=all

Bruce Hooker - on 22 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker) Did you see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22551892 ?

This is hardly news, and despite the title hardly proof of much. The original incident was reported by the Syrian government as a chemical attack by rebels who had looted an army weapons dump where there were gas warheads of some sort. They called for the UN to investigate the incident but the latter refused unless they were given access to inspect all of Syria... something they knew the Syrian government would refuse.

The result is that we'll probably never have proof of who did what - but the suspicion will be usable by those who want to use it. Even when the Syrian government asks for UN help against the use of chemical arms they don't get it, so much for the UN being neutral.

The real responsibility lies again with Obama, when he said that use of chemical weapons by the Syrian army would be a "red line" for US armed intervention he effectively invited all anti-government forces to find some poison gas to use somehow. Deliberate or not? Had he any real evidence that Assad would order chemical weapons to be used against his own people?
Bruce Hooker - on 22 May 2013
In reply to MikeTS:

Alawites are a form of Shia... one of many sects derived from islam, just as there are many sects derived from other religions in the area - Christianity is a Jewish sub-sect and in N Syria/Lebanon there are many sub-sects of Christianity. At the moment the Sunni/Shia divide is the one being used to stir up bloodshed, before that it was other combinations, any religion can be used by evil people to justify slaughter and conquest, as you know well enough.
Simon4 - on 22 May 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

> .... who had peeled off frrom being on the ayatollahs christmas card list over his second term, despite how the western media portrayed it

Sorry to be flippant about a serious and tragic situation, and I am normally interested in your posts, but ....

I couldn't help laughing at the thought of Ayatollahs having a Christmas card list. Reminds me of a very vulgar joke about a parachutist in trouble.
Rob Exile Ward on 22 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: 'use of chemical weapons by the Syrian army would be a "red line" for US armed intervention '

I don't think he did, he said that it would be a red line that would lead to unspecified but serious consequences. (War crime proceedings? More advisers? Arming selected rebels?) And FWIW when there did appear to be some evidence (however flawed) that would have been enough under the previous administration, then he backed off and found himself some wiggle room, despite being open to criticism of being 'soft'.

But you're right, let's not the facts get in the way of your narrative, he still is the great Satan.
Rob Exile Ward on 22 May 2013
In reply to Simon4: 'Reminds me of a very vulgar joke about a parachutist in trouble. '

Which is? I can't begin to imagine any similarity?!
ice.solo - on 22 May 2013
In reply to Simon4:

a bit off comic relief wouldnt hurt after 400 posts of all this.

go on, tell us.
Simon4 - on 22 May 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

> go on, tell us.

Not sure I can imitate the appropriate Glasgow accent (not without the citizens of that fine city beating me to a pulp that is).

But try googling Billy Conolly, parachutist joke.

MikeTS - on 22 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to MikeTS)
>
> Alawites are a form of Shia... one of many sects derived from islam,

I know that from our point of view it's a system of sects. But these have hated and killed each other (N Ireland is tame in comparison) for centuries. I don't think any Western outsiders are needed.
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> The real responsibility lies again with Obama,

Classic Brucey. Perhaps some responsibility could lie with whoever turfed it out of the back of that Mi-8?
Bruce Hooker - on 22 May 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

The only true thing in your post is that Obama really did "wiggle"... That he, and others, spoke of chemical weapon use as a "red line" for intervention has been in the press for months - he said it, but at a time when he thought he could swing another intervention - it wasn't Bush in power when Libya was bombed back into a failed state, it was your hero Obama.

Ever since he was elected, and before, you have been in a state of trance as if he could do no wrong. Years later and his presidency has been a damp squib, more of the same except for a primitive form of health care. It's true that he has come online as a staunch pro-Zionist, so I suppose that's why you stick by him. There has to be some reason, I suppose.

BTW, for those who use the term, it's not "him" who is the great Satan, it's an "it", the USA. Obama, like all presidents for a long time, is just a front man, the gangster class who run the show are more discreet.
Bruce Hooker - on 22 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
>
> [...]
>
> Classic Brucey. Perhaps some responsibility could lie with whoever turfed it out of the back of that Mi-8?

The original story involved chemical warheads on rockets, the BBC story is either another version or a separate incident. Seriously though can anyone believe such stories? - just a BBC hack saying someone told him something is hardly credible.

At the beginning of this war the Arab League delegation investigated several atrocity claims and found some were either false, invented or on one occasion turned around - a bus of civilians attacked by government troops turned out to be one carrying Syrian military personnel attacked by rebels. It was online back then, the report was leaked and the truth loving sheiks who run the Arab league recalled the mission for reporting the wrong version, ie. taking fact finding as meaning "looking for the truth", instead of "looking for what we want to see".

Silly things!
ice.solo - on 24 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

interview with an al nusra fighter. not sure how much is propaganda by eith ther fighter or the journalist.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/pomegranate/2013/05/syrias-fighters-0

near-identical to the stuff the taliban say.
MikeTS - on 27 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to TobyA)
> [...]
>
> The original story involved chemical warheads on rockets, the BBC story is either another version or a separate incident. Seriously though can anyone believe such stories? - just a BBC hack saying someone told him something is hardly credible.
>


Le Monde has a detailed and direct experience of chemical weapons use, described here. Seems very credible.

http://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/article/2013/05/27/chemical-war-in-syria_3417708_3218.html
Bruce Hooker - on 27 May 2013
In reply to MikeTS:

This has been in the press a lot today but in fact they say nothing new and produce no proof that the Syrian government used chemical weapons, it's all people saying things and blood tests being sent off but no actual results and no proof. Given the way this is being built up as a casus belli it's also quite plausible that people involved, who are losing ground at present militarily, might want to do the same as was done for Iraq and the WMD fiasco.

On the other hand as the Syrian government is progressing it would be silly using chemical weapons in a marginal way. When Saddam Hussein used gas the proof was, alas, extremely evident with a whole village wiped out and bodies everywhere.

Le Monde journalists are just as capable of telling fibs as any others.
MikeTS - on 27 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to MikeTS)
>
>.
>
> Le Monde journalists are just as capable of telling fibs as any others.

This is not hearsay they are reporting but claimed experience. So do you really think that Le Monde is inventing it? To quote:

'Their eyes burn, their pupils shrink, their vision blurs. Soon they experience difficulty breathing, sometimes in the extreme; they begin to vomit or lose consciousness. The fighters worst affected need to be evacuated before they suffocate.

Reporters from Le Monde witnessed this on several days in a row in this district, on the outskirts of Damascus, which the rebels entered in January'

'Le Monde's photographer was with rebels who have been waging war out of ruined buildings. He saw them start to cough before donning their gas masks, apparently without haste although in fact they were already exposed. Men crouched down, gasping for breath and vomiting. They had to flee the area at once. Le Monde's photographer suffered blurred vision and and respiratory difficulties for four days'
Bruce Hooker - on 27 May 2013
In reply to MikeTS:

I wouldn't believe these reporters anymore than anyone else with an axe to grind. Even the presence of gas were true where was the gas coming from? Why couldn't it have all been set up for the journalists? Given the stakes involved, intervention of NATO airpower and the almost immediate end of the regime, it would be a perfectly logical thing to try... It wouldn't be the first time that partisan journalists have told lies, would it?

They did in Libya, why wouldn't they in Syria?
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> Why couldn't it have all been set up for the journalists? Given the stakes involved, intervention of NATO airpower and the almost immediate end of the regime, it would be a perfectly logical thing to try... It wouldn't be the first time that partisan journalists have told lies, would it?

I'm quite impressed with the lengths you go to explain things away to yourself more than anyone else!
Bruce Hooker - on 27 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
> [...]
>
> I'm quite impressed with the lengths you go to explain things away to yourself more than anyone else!

I'm quite impressed by your naivety! Well actually I'm not, it appals me.

For information the exact same reserves were expressed on French TV news this evening, they are so obvious after all, I don't know how Finnish TV presents the situation in Syria. They showed film of the accused gas grenades, made of a sort of white plastic, then switched to film of a rebel jihadist carrying his Kalashnikov and wearing a bullet belt over the shoulder onto which was clipped exactly the same sort of grenade, but unexploded.

You seem to wilfully ignore that these people, like many others in situations of unequal war, have been tricking and deceiving the gullible for centuries and the present easy access to the media by internet, smart phones and video haven't made it harder. Methods which were previously the reserve of sophisticated and wealthy secret services are now available to anyone with a few dollars and a modicum of knowledge.

In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> They showed film of the accused gas grenades,

What "accused gas grenades"? The Le Monde piece doesn't make any accusations - they only describe the results that their journalists saw, and doctors reported. On how any agent was dispersed, they are quite vague: "Depending on the area where they came under attack, the fighters say that the chemicals were released by shells, by rockets or by a type of grenade." It sounds like in many cases the rebel fighters don't really know where the gas comes from.

> made of a sort of white plastic, then switched to film of a rebel jihadist carrying his Kalashnikov and wearing a bullet belt over the shoulder onto which was clipped exactly the same sort of grenade, but unexploded.

It sounds to me that the French TV news you are quoting has just found the now rather well known Brown Moses post on the plastic grenades from a few weeks ago. The Le Monde piece cited above doesn't have any photos fitting what you describe and I didn't see it in the film clip attached to that article. So which Jihadist with the bullet belt do you mean? Does the French Le Monde article have this picture?
Bruce Hooker - on 27 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:

Obviously the French telly news is nearer Le Monde than you are, and perhaps a little more critical, as they went beyond the article and showed more videos than the ones on the Le Monde web site. The original article implies the journalists actually witnessed gas attacks and the video this evening showed Syrian opposition fighters, well armed, one popping off shots with a shiny new sniping rifle with telescopic sights, and in a complex system of fortified bunkers linking areas of the town being defended BTW, who showed an exploded gas grenade to the cameraman.

We couldn't understand what he said but the translation was that this was one of the methods used for delivering the gas... said to be invisible and without smell so that people were affected before they knew they should put the gas masks on. By sheer coincidence these gas masks, and complete anti-gas suits had just been supplied by... you guessed it, a French NGO which happened to be present in the same place at the same time and was filmed giving an anti-gas training session to a group of healthy looking young and attractive, some were pretty girls, Syrian "freedom fighters".

Fate sometimes does the job well, just when the Syrian government decided to lob in a few gas grenades the rebels were all set up to receive them with French gear, French training and a Le Monde camera crew ready to film it all... bit of luck really, it could have gone un-noticed, un-filmed and the unprotected rebels could have found themselves un-alive.
Gudrun - on 27 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> On the other hand as the Syrian government is progressing it would be silly using chemical weapons in a marginal way.

They as i have said before know fine well that to use them would risk the support of the Russians and the Chinese and they wouldn't do it anyway.
> When Saddam Hussein used gas the proof was, alas, extremely evident with a whole village wiped out and bodies everywhere.
Yeah and did the US government or their PR arm in the media scream blue murder when their guy was using chemical weapons on a village just like they were 13 years earlier in Vietnam?No !
> Le Monde journalists are just as capable of telling fibs as any others.
They are all effen liars! Do you remember that idiot aaranovitch or sumat from the Times saying if they didn't find WMD in Iraq then he would *never* believe another word the government says?And what? well he seems to have forgotten!

Now i hear that comedy duo Cameron and Hague will be pushing to arm the effin FSA jihadis!!
Why?
Democracy?
That's a joke,it's time i wrote these posh islamist supporters another letter although i'm still waiting for a reply to my first,which and i know this for a fact...he cannot answer.

Support Bashar,Syria and secularism,write to your MP or to Cameron asking why he plans to go ahead with this and demand that he stops no matter what the USA want....not in my name and with my tax money!!!
ice.solo - on 28 May 2013
any links to this footage of a personally deliverable chemical weapon?

would be a significant change in global warfare, as up till now chemical weapons are usually delivered by rockets and aircraft.

no chance it was a smoke grenade, incendiary grenade or tear gas instead?
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> Fate sometimes does the job well, just when the Syrian government decided to lob in a few gas grenades the rebels were all set up to receive them with French gear, French training and a Le Monde camera crew ready to film it all... bit of luck really,

You're making things up again or ignorant of what has been happening. The reports of various different types of gas being used have been from many different places around Syria and have been happening since March. This isn't "just when..." it's after it has happened enough times for journalists to finally see it.

>it could have gone un-noticed, un-filmed and the unprotected rebels could have found themselves un-alive.

This is what has happened, according to different rebel groups, numerous times previously.

In reply to ice.solo:

> no chance it was a smoke grenade, incendiary grenade or tear gas instead?

The now infamous plastic grenade (that the al Nusra fighter was pictured carrying) is possibly a tear gas grenade of Indian origin. http://brown-moses.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/three-chemical-weapon-specialist-answer.html Some observers think that the Syrian military might be using different types of riot control and deadlier chemical agents together, meaning patients presenting with multiple symptoms and making it harder to work out what has been used.

ice.solo - on 28 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:

aha, thanks for that link toby, excellent.
In reply to ice.solo: Yep, it's an amazing thing his blog and has become the source for so many media stories. The power of social media and all that!
Bruce Hooker - on 28 May 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

> no chance it was a smoke grenade, incendiary grenade or tear gas instead?

I'd say there probably is a good chance, but the news films showed people saying it was how the gas was delivered. Another report was of canisters being dropped out of helicopters and rebels were shown holding parts of the innards of them - surprising if they really had contained sarin gas!

The footage was on TF1 evening news yesterday, IIRC, although it may have bee Antenne 2.

Either way the propaganda advantage of showing that the Syrian government is using chemical weapons is so great for the rebels that it's hardly surprising they would try this sort of trick - it wouldn't be the first time such excuses have been used to get the planes bombing and the cruise missiles on the job.

Most previous info has said that the gas weapons were in warheads of shells or rockets which would make more sense than hand thrown grenades as it would only need the wind to change direction for the gas to get the wrong soldiers, as happened in WW1, to one of my grandfather's cost!
Bruce Hooker - on 28 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:

> You're making things up again or ignorant of what has been happening.

No, it's you who are fibbing, as you often do, you have absolutely no idea what was on French TV last night so you can hardly comment on it. This series of reports was on the news last night as the French are perhaps less politically naïve than you and realise that in such situations the truth is often the first victim, to quote a cliché.
Bruce Hooker - on 28 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:


The white grenades are the same as the ones shown on the report last night so as you have read this article too in which the experts conclude that there is no proof of Syrian government use of chemical weapons and that, on the country, many of the sense of people "suffering" from such attacks are faking it why do you appear to contradict what I've said?

You have read the article through, haven't you?
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> The white grenades are the same as the ones shown on the report last night

But where were they being shown and why? The Le Monde article is about chemical use in Damascus; the attack where the white grenades were pictured was in Idlib province (although other sources talk of the box thrown from the helicopter that has nothing to do with the grenades) and the al Nusra guy had his photo taken in the Kurdish far NE. This is the point - what did those white grenades you saw on the news have to do with with what Le Monde saw in Damascus? Le Monde didn't know how the gas they saw was dispersed, did a different French news channel have footage of the grenades in Damascus?
Gudrun - on 30 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

Who the does that spineless Whitehouse inhabitant think he is?

What the hell is he doing saying Hezbollah must leave Syria?

No mention of all the Islamic Jihadi terrorist invaders paid for and supported by the USA/Old colonialists and Arab dictatorships who are destroying Syria leaving!!!!

Disgusting! What a spineless fork tongued "house negro" to use the words of Malcolm X.
Bruce Hooker - on 30 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:

In reply to your last post, afraid I can't answer all the questions, it was on the news, not a text I can read again, they showed various clips and I don't remember if they said exactly where all the images came from, apart from them being in Syria. The gist was that it was not 100% conclusive who used what and when.
Bruce Hooker - on 30 May 2013
In reply to Gudrun:

The latest seems to be that Syrian government troops and Hezbollah militants are turning things round, which is probably why the propaganda battle is heating up. It's not only Obama though, Cameron and Hollande and their crews are pushing hard too, and Hollande is supposed to be a Socialist!

It does seem a bit hypocritical that SFA people are criticising Hezbollah involvement when their most effective, and violent, troops are outsider mercenaries too.
Gudrun - on 30 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> It does seem a bit hypocritical that SFA people are criticising Hezbollah involvement when their most effective, and violent, troops are outsider mercenaries too.

Exactly !And giving orders to! who the hell do they think they are?

It's like the old Russian saying about the thief shouting "Stop thief!"
They own the media,one sided reporting,US multinational/government propaganda sewerage spewed out and the unwitting believe it unquestionably.

It's disgusting capitalist totalitarianism!

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