/ Selling arms to Syrian rebels

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Eric9Points - on 27 May 2013
..or giving them to the rebels for that matter.

Apparently Britain and France are in favour while the rest of the EU isn't. Which seems a bit curious to me as I was watching Question Time the other week and the Defence Secretary seemed to think we wouldn't do such a thing.

Anyway, I'm searching for a reason why the UK should get involved to such a degree, let alone the rest of the EU.

Can anyone convince me that we should arm the Free Syrian Army?

Eric9Points - on 28 May 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:

No one prepared to try and convince then?

Not surprised.
Hephaestus - on 28 May 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:
> (In reply to Eric9Points)
>
> No one prepared to try and convince then?
>
> Not surprised.

I was gutted this morning when I heard that the rest of the EU had caved in, and that UK/France would be oiling the wheels of military commerce and rubbing their hands together in anticipation of more bloodshed.

No problem was ever solved with an arms race.
Rob Exile Ward on 28 May 2013
In reply to Hephaestus: This just sounds like such a bad idea and suprise, suprise, Russia have responded already.

A few people will make a lot of money and a lot of people will die.
Clarence - on 28 May 2013
In reply to Hephaestus:
> I was gutted this morning when I heard that the rest of the EU had caved in...

Me too, I had hoped that the EU would be sufficient to rein in Haig's insane plan. We have enough troubles without adding to the net misery of the world yet again.
TheDrunkenBakers - on 28 May 2013
In reply to Clarence:
> (In reply to Hephaestus)
> [...]
>
> Me too, I had hoped that the EU would be sufficient to rein in Haig's insane plan. We have enough troubles without adding to the net misery of the world yet again.

Smells like a big no no to me. We would be presumably arming these rebels/freedom fighters with state of the art technology which will doubtless be turned on themselves.

I think we have been involved in enough conflicts of late. Perhaps its time for some others to take the lead. What do we stand to gain, or more likely lose, in diplomatic terms.

Caveat: I'm not a middle east expert in any sense of the word.

MG - on 28 May 2013
In reply to Eric9Points: Is this becoming a China/Russia vs US/West proxy war?
David Barratt - on 28 May 2013
In reply to MG: Not far from it. I'd be much closer to the Russin stance on it, but we just shouldn't be getting involved. both sides are vile.
skog - on 28 May 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:

I don't understand this at all.

Supplying arms, or threatening to do so, can only cause things to escalate, can't it?

So, why do France and the UK want this to escalate?

Is it really just as simple as securing arms contracts? I hope not.
IainRUK - on 28 May 2013
In reply to skog: You can understand it.. I think the main thing they want is a winner.. TBH if ever a conflict needed UN intervention to secure a truce this is it, but its seems quite likely there have been pretty horrific war crimes on both sides so getting either side to move on peacefully will be nigh on impossible.

No I don't think its that simple.. re the arms contracts.. I just think we'd rather help one side win than serious UN intervention in a messy conflict.
jkarran - on 28 May 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:

> Anyway, I'm searching for a reason why the UK should get involved to such a degree, let alone the rest of the EU.

Same reason we usually do: Money and influence.

> Can anyone convince me that we should arm the Free Syrian Army?

Maybe but it's not going to be me.
jk
Daithi O Murchu - on 28 May 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:
> ..or giving them to the rebels for that matter.
>e EU.
>
> Can anyone convince me that we should arm the Free Syrian Army?

because their so much less f*ckin nuts that the

Army of Free Syria or the Free Army of Syria
David Martin - on 28 May 2013
In reply to skog:

It seems logical if you consider all the rebels may need is a little extra helping hand to turn the tide and resolve the current stalemate.

If that had been the case at the outset of the armed uprising I wouldn't have had huge issues with the sale. But doing so then would have been pretty damned dodgy on legalistic grounds, no less how nations should deal with each others internal conflicts. Certainly arming the rebels now seems like insanity. Who knows which faction will prevail and whether or not they will be any good for the country. Assad seems to be winning the PR war.
Hephaestus - on 28 May 2013
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to Eric9Points) Is this becoming a China/Russia vs US/West proxy war?

A whole lot more complex than that: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bashar_al-Assad

Brings in Sunni/Shia islamic issues, the Lebanon/Israeli conflict, scores to be settled by the US in the aftermath of the Iraq war and a whole lot more.

Despite his current strategic ties with Russia, he's also been through phases of 'warm relations' with France and other western powers so (as with so many other 'brutal dictators' that the west goes to war with) there's the question of where his military might was gained in the first place.

Then there's Hagues ridiculous statement that they're only going to arm the moderates in the conflict... surely that's oxymoronic.
Daithi O Murchu - on 28 May 2013
In reply to Hephaestus:

>
> Then there's Hagues ridiculous statement that they're only going to arm the moderates in the conflict.

they don't shoot so good, so don't worry
Ridge - on 28 May 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:
> ..or giving them to the rebels for that matter.
>
> Apparently Britain and France are in favour while the rest of the EU isn't. Which seems a bit curious to me as I was watching Question Time the other week and the Defence Secretary seemed to think we wouldn't do such a thing.
>
> Anyway, I'm searching for a reason why the UK should get involved to such a degree, let alone the rest of the EU.
>
> Can anyone convince me that we should arm the Free Syrian Army?

OK.

No coherent organisational structure - tick.
Track record of atrocities - tick.
Likely to start a sectarian barney with each other -tick.
Beardy blokes who like yelling "Allah u akbar" -tick.

What could possibly go wrong?

Professor Bunsen - on 28 May 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:

Correct me if I am wrong but didn't (one of)the main rebel faction(s) recently declare allegiance to Al Qaeda?
Let's give them lots of arms... can't see that ending badly.
andic - on 28 May 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:

We must do all we can to reduce and hopefully stop the bloodshed this obviously includes giving them more weapons.
caradoc - on 28 May 2013
In reply to Eric9Points: Of all the mistakes made by this government this Syrian policy is the worst. They should never have got involved but the problem is there is very little scrutiny by the media who seem to have a rosy tinted view of the FSA and constantly demand that 'we do something'. What is more worrying is that our foreign policy is being run by Saudia Arabia and Quatar.
cragtaff - on 28 May 2013
In reply to Eric9Points: We should keep well out of this mess, we would never know who we were arming, and in any case are the so called rebels any better than Assad?

Let them all get on with their civil war and leave the rest of us out of it till they have sorted it out by themselves. If anybody wants to intervene it should be the Arab countries.
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dissonance - on 28 May 2013
In reply to Ridge:

> What could possibly go wrong?

yes would need the cash up front.
Bruce Hooker - on 28 May 2013
In reply to cragtaff:

> If anybody wants to intervene it should be the Arab countries.

Some of them already are - Qatar, Saudi Arabia, but on our behalf.
ice.solo - on 29 May 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:

theres no FSA. maybe there was 2 years ago, but not now. even the bbc recognize that.
the brits and french are well aware of arms going to baddies, and tho it may backfire, im not sure the intention really is to arm any sort of rebel. i think, after lessons learned, they will be far more surgical than that.

likewise, the EU decision isnt as black and white as UK/french for, everyone else against.
im yet to see an actual list of who voted what, but headline reports show that several countries were in the middle somewhere.

'Can anyone convince me that we should arm the Free Syrian Army?'

put that way, no. that would be insane.

but should we surgically assist non-extremist and pro-democratic groups within the syrian red zone? thats a different matter.


ice.solo - on 29 May 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

russias response has been disconcerting and definitely not a step forward. their claim of the EU scuttling next months peace talks is absurd in light of their reaction - tho i doubt its a knee jerk reaction at all, rather something they already had plans for but have just now declared in light of the EU announcement. if so, even more disturbing that mobile GtA missile systems were earmarked for syria one way or another - imagine sketchy groups getting hold of those f*cking things!

no less so that a major MO of rebel groups - due to not being consistantly supplied - is to focus on capturing govt weapons.

not a good equation.
Eric9Points - on 29 May 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

Thanks.

Yes I'm suspecting the same as you that the UK/France have some ideas of arming the "good" parts of the rebel movement in Syria. Quite why they feel they need to do so when Quatar is already arming them is beyond me. Maybe they're thinking they might want to give them some special toys that the Quataris can't get their hands on.

I'm also dismayed that this seems to be degnerating into a proxy war, currently between Saudi Arabia, Quatar and Turkey against Russia, Iran and Hezbollah.

Do we need to get involved? What is the worst case scenario if we wash our hands of it all? That Assad wins and takes brutual revenge on his enemies, that Russia forms a stronger alliance with Iran whose regional influence grows and will develop nuclear weapons under the protection of the Russians.

Not a nice scenario but is it something that us Europeans *must* try to prevent?
ice.solo - on 29 May 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:
> (In reply to ice.solo)
>
> Not a nice scenario but is it something that us Europeans *must* try to prevent?

at first, i think 'no', but now, as signatories to human rights conventions, war crimes protocols and the whole terrorism thing i think 'yes'.

this war will go on, foreign intervention or not (both EU, US and regional). its not about 'good white people' stepping in, but as its usually wealthy nations that uphold the inquiries of war crimes it seems the only option. has saudi, china, jordan or even turkey ever instigated these things..?

now with russia pushing the stakes over by confirming its intentions to arm one side - in part to threaten not just the opposition, but as much to threaten those who choose to back them, and even more so to give the finger to the decision process - i think things will spiral badly.

a total f*ck up.
David Martin - on 29 May 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

Perhaps if there wasn't such an under-current of the West trying to screw with Russia or Iran's sphere of influence, we wouldn't be in such a tangle. Surely, behind the scenes, our side in the argument is talking with the opposing big powers to come to a mutual agreement - one that simply works for the betterment of Syria? The new Syrian regime can buy Sukhois, Kalashnikovs and surplus T-72s, while we get to have Assad ousted. Or at least some arrangement to allow him reasonably content exile.

I get the impression we've over-egged ourselves in to a corner, unwilling to let this grand opportunity to screw Hezbollah or the Iranian theocracy go, and end up with the stakes of intervention rising as a result.

I vote for Sweden to be put in charge of decision making on this one, and any nation that doesn't tow the line gets nuked.

Eric9Points - on 29 May 2013
In reply to David Martin:
> (In reply to ice.solo)
>
> Perhaps if there wasn't such an under-current of the West trying to screw with Russia or Iran's sphere of influence, we wouldn't be in such a tangle. Surely, behind the scenes, our side in the argument is talking with the opposing big powers to come to a mutual agreement - one that simply works for the betterment of Syria?

Presumably that was the point of John Kerry's visit to Russia a couple of weeks ago. I'd love to know how that went.

I recall that there are electrions in Iran soon. Who knows, if a less belicose Government is elected everything could change for the better.
ice.solo - on 29 May 2013
In reply to David Martin:

thats a good post. a lot to think about there (not playing into the cowboys and indians mentality that plagues the subject is so much more thought provoking).

i wonder what 'the betterment of syria' really entails, in the perspectives of all parties? seems to shift every few months; what started as simply 'democracy' (or whatever) has become so fractured theres no obvious choice in what an omega point could be.
makes it hard to compose a game plan - whichever faction one is with.

there are some 'media blind spots' that have manifest that may hint at efforts going on behind the scenes, stuff that is denied comment etc.

ice.solo - on 29 May 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:
> (In reply to David Martin)
> [...]
>
> I recall that there are electrions in Iran soon. Who knows, if a less belicose Government is elected everything could change for the better.

thank god someone else is noticing this!

that there is a major lynch pin in the whole equation (in about 50 equations really...across the entire region).
iran has calmed a lot with the bellicose hoo ha in the last year or two, a major shift has occurred that has seen amedinajhad so distanced from the ayatollah that his chosen successor wasnt even allowed to stand for election - thats so major its hard to understand why its been so little reported (recall amedinajhad was an ayatollah stooge when first 'elected').

effects from this election will directly influence what goes on in afghanistan, iraq, tajikistan and the caucusus as well as syria as much as an election does/did in the US.
to link with davids post above: these are rare windows for 'the west' to connect to iran as the king pin in a region that is otherwise a total shit fight.

beyond these elections too is the juggling of the ayatollah in waiting - another window that offers a lot of hope (the next in line is moderate/reformist friendly - unless skittled away...)

shit, dont get me started on the subject...
biped - on 29 May 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

...and I believe the (relatively) moderate Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (excuse the spelling) has been disqualified from standing. I am hopeful nut not optimistic.
Bruce Hooker - on 29 May 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

> shit, dont get me started on the subject...

But why worry? Let Iranians sort out there own problems... the more "we" try to help the more difficult it will be for them.
biped - on 29 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to ice.solo)
>
> [...]
>
> But why worry? Let Iranians sort out there own problems... the more we try to "help" the more difficult it will be for them.

Fixed that for you. And yes, plenty of historical precedents there.

Bruce Hooker - on 29 May 2013
In reply to biped:

I was going to put ""s on "help" as well but it seems to irritate people if I put too many ""s in one sentence.

I agree that "we" have "helped" Iran quite enough already.
ice.solo - on 29 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

A significant amount of irans problems are from the world isolating them for trying to sort their own issues out.

Why worry? Because remaining unfriendly towards, further isolating and demonizing iran only further destabilizes the region.
If i were a syrian, afghan, tajik or azeri id be very concerned about what happens in iran over next few years.
ice.solo - on 29 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

35 years of embargos and demonization has helped iran has it?
ice.solo - on 29 May 2013
In reply to biped:
> (In reply to ice.solo)
>
> ...and I believe the (relatively) moderate Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (excuse the spelling) has been disqualified from standing. I am hopeful nut not optimistic.

Yes, apparently not islamic enough - even tho hes held the post before...
Bruce Hooker - on 30 May 2013
In reply to ice.solo:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
>
> 35 years of embargos and demonization has helped iran has it?

Maybe I expressed myself poorly, that's precisely what I mean, we should treat, and should have treated, Iran with all the respect that sovereign country merits. The West, Britain playing a major role, put the Shah in power, against the democratic choice of Iranians, and backed him up for years, they shouldn't have.

The Islamic revolution resulted from this and there again "we" interfered in a negative way, which, I think, only hardened the positions of the more radical. I'm not that keen on the regime but it's what they've chosen for the moment.

David Martin - on 30 May 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

What is the "betterment of Syria" is an interesting question. Its obviously a bit of a loaded term though as everyone will claim to know what is better for someone else.

Despite Assad clearly being a deeply unpleasant character, I'm not sure he can just go. And as should be clear to all by now, if things ever were black and white over there they certainly aren't now. Christians, Allowites and secular Sunni's will certainly need some cast iron guarantees of safety, at an absolute minimum, which may be difficult. My feeling is exile or some form political re-hab (as the Economist claims Mugabe has achieved) over a number of years.

Basically, I don't like the smell of the realpolitik, the appearance that decisions aren't being made solely on safeguarding lives, cohesion and the long-term viability of Syria but equally on grander attempts at regional influence. Maybe Iran and Russia are playing those games, it is their back yard afterall. But I don't see why we need to join in - I'm not at all convinced all the clever thinking, maneouvering, talk of "pivots" and what-have-you really does help decide who will pull the regional strings a decade or two down the track, or win us any friends in the long run.
ice.solo - on 31 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

agreed. where i begin to peel of tho is in the case of contemporary iran. what you say above is undoubtably so but what muddies it now (last decade or so) is that what iranians have ended up with is not what they have chosen - its what a small band of narrow minded scholars have installed, quite overtly against what popular opinion demands.
we are seeing this at its finest as we speak as the mullahs veto popular presidential candidates (including the one the ayatollahs former stooge amedinajhad has hand picked and rasfanjhani who they once approved as well).

i agree again that iranians should be left to their own soverignty (which is very powerful a notion in iran), but, they are also a major regional and global player with a large demograph requestion international assistance.
of course some covert manipulation is not whats suggested here (as the whole shah thing was), but as a long standing member of the international community iranians should be open to this, but are not due to sanctions and demonization.

its not interfering for assistance to change when requested (the entire former soviet union did it(other than turkmanistan), myanmar is doing it, libya started doing it), and beneath the unelected scholars they are a functioning democracy. prominant iranians have been speaking for years internationally for assistance with sanctions to be eased so they may join international systems (banking, travel, business, educational, strategic and aid) to counter act the influence of the scholars. but the 'west' in its stubbornness wont move on it - choosing instead to let the region crumble as the most potent factor is sidelined.
to think the matters of the region can be sorted whilst iran is isolated is plain stupid. made doubly so when a large portion of iran welcomes international interaction but is denied it.

if they were a nasty little state like zimbabwe, afghanistan, mauritania or syria that revelled in their isolationism that would be different. but done the right way (ie the way a lot of well educated iranians are perfectly capable of piloting) international assistance need never be the sinister stuff of the shah era.

nowhere wants to come out of the cold so much as iran - and by god they were close under khatami - but the inaction against helping them is almost as bad as the sinister version of subverting them.
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ice.solo - on 31 May 2013
In reply to David Martin:

i think turkey as a lot to do with the backyard-ness. they really do see syria as a former colony at times, including as a staging ground for some kurdish groups.
their ideas of 'whats good for syria' seem to be both proxy for the US, but also i think in a more moderate way of retaining another non-wahabist state (secular even better, but turkeys current govt sways a bit on that themselves).

russias game i really fail to understand. their upping the ante with arming the govt with very serious systems is a major escalation of the stakes. seems amazing they give a shit that much that they are prepared to take the intervention stake to such a level.

the exile idea for assad seems amongst the few sane ideas going around. to some slightly militant, semi religious state like azerbaijan (or franch like the ayatollah and emir of afghanistan).
ice.solo - on 31 May 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

dang, and just when i got my soap box out...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-22723722
Bruce Hooker - on 31 May 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

> they (Turkey) really do see syria as a former colony at times,

Well it was, wasn't it? And a fairly nasty colonial regime in the folding years too - ask any Armenian.

Concerning Iran: Elections have taken place tough and the poorer part of the population seems to back the regime. You speak of educated Iranians, and they are the one that meet you in the West and in exile, but the there is also the class aspect, well off Iranians defend their privileged status too, just as in all countries they will be perhaps more open to Western ideas, apparently, but they also look to maintaining their situation after any political change.

Going through Teheran in 1970 we stopped in a plush suburb of overnight and the luxury of the houses, mansions really, compared to other more working class suburbs was striking; we shouldn't forget that as in any country there are also internal class conflicts at work and as an outside force we shouldn't back any one side in this either.
Bruce Hooker - on 31 May 2013
In reply to ice.solo:
> (In reply to ice.solo)
>
> dang, and just when i got my soap box out...
>
> http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-22723722

And do you see this as positive? It was mobile phones that got the present civil war in Syria going... 80 000 dead later and the country in ruins I don't wish this on Iran myself.

ice.solo - on 31 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to ice.solo)
>
> [...]
>
> Well it was, wasn't it? And a fairly nasty colonial regime in the folding years too - ask any Armenian.

it was part of the ottoman empire, sure. turks are interesting in the region in how they base 'turkishness' not on ethnicity, but on culture. part of this makes the loss of areas once part of the empire hard for some.
yes, lots of bad incidents, armenia amongst them. but more to both countries than that old chestnut.
>
> Concerning Iran: Elections have taken place tough and the poorer part of the population seems to back the regime. You speak of educated Iranians, and they are the one that meet you in the West and in exile, but the there is also the class aspect, well off Iranians defend their privileged status too, just as in all countries they will be perhaps more open to Western ideas, apparently, but they also look to maintaining their situation after any political change.
>
thats a blinkered view that belittles iranians. theres plenty of well educated people inside iran, not all of them wealthy by any means. iran also has one of the largest populations of people under 40, many educated including many who study abroad and return.

you need to clarify what you mean by 'regime' - iran has two distinct halves. many support one but not the other. saying many poor back 'the regime' means little. both the scholars and the elected elements have their fair share of support in different demographs.
the pooorest of the poor tend to detest the scholars - often because they are not shia (or they are from irans huge refugee population). likewise many wealthy are zoroastrian and bahai, also disliking the scholars and conservative electables.
many agricultural and industrial iranians see beyond religion and just want good markets. the scholars put their demands low on the interest scale.
then theres the enormous population who dont give a f*ck and just want to rejoin the world.

yes, there is an elite - they tend to be the least fond of the scholars. rasfanjhani who was just booted out of the election process is a good example of their representatives. as you say, like anywhere they want to protect what they have, but iran has little threat of a socialist revolution that would take it from them.
in fact iran has a huge problem with brain drain and business leakage, with constant efforts to attract its wealthy home. theres little doubt that the conservative f*ckery of the scholars and ayatollah is the primary thing keeping them away.
ice.solo - on 31 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

bruce, thats ridiculous and i think you know it. religious/sectarian disparity, political malcontent and regional interference triggered whats happened in syria - not mobile phones.

yes, i see it as positive. why should iranians not have access to technology? maybe it would be nicer if it was samsung instead of apple (the coca cola of digital tech), but inclusion in global trends BY THOSE WHO WANT IT is infinitely better than ostracism and isolation, whether its levis and iphones or the rolling stones.
its wortth noting iran already has a massive blackmarket in satellite tv receivers, porn and fake fashion goods.

tho not in iran, im currently involved in developing mobile phone infrastructure and technological freedom in some other places that are emerging and its key to the sort of ideas sharing that peacefully brings about change. syria is the anomaly - theres dozens of other positive examples ranging from china and laos to the ukraine and turkmenistan where communication and linking to global fashion trends are rasing the living standards of many.

of course there will be examples of f*ck ups - just as plenty of wars killed people without the aid of mobiles or western gimmicks.
but again, if people want it - whether its an iphone or a visa - why should we stop them?
that its the young and the hip that are most attracted to these things is another matter - but better steve jobs than the CIA right?
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> we shouldn't forget that as in any country there are also internal class conflicts at work and as an outside force we shouldn't back any one side in this either.

So the Chilean resistance to Pinochet shouldn't have been backed? Or no backing for the ANC?

Bruce Hooker - on 31 May 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

> but better steve jobs than the CIA right?

I don't think you can separate the two :-)

Obviously if it's your activity you'll see things differently but from what I remember the use of blackberries to organise the first demos was not negligible in Syria. There was some US NGO specialised in helping show people how to use these new technologies against the government. Many may say that authoritarian governments like to keep hold of the means of communication to prevent contestation but another view is that they can also be tools of destabilisation in the interest of outside agents, and no one can deny that he who controls the media controls what it does to a great extent too.

Many years ago, when a child, I went to the USSR, to Leningrad, on as school trip and was struck even then in my non-political childhood (about 12 IIRC) when people asked me about biros and jeans - I couldn't understand what they were on about at the time, but over the decades the desire for these futile trappings of capitalism did more to weaken the Soviet block than many a speech or book. Now they have them both, and a lot of things, like near melt-down, which perhaps they appreciate less.

It's all very well destabilising regimes, or countries, we don't like but if what replaces them is even worse I'm not convinced it is worth all the killing. When the killing is already there, as for Pol Pot or Saddam Hussein, then maybe it's debateable but I would deny that either Syria, pre-civil war, or Iran today fit the bill for unconditional regime change.
Bruce Hooker - on 31 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
> [...]
>
> So the Chilean resistance to Pinochet shouldn't have been backed? Or no backing for the ANC?

No one did back the resistance to Pinochet, US help put Pinochet in power, and there wasn't any resistance once Allende had died, just a few days. As for the ANC, which country actively helped them? Certainly not Britain, Thatcher regarded them as terrorists.
Sir Chasm - on 31 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: Perhaps if the USSR had let people have jeans and bics to start with the people wouldn't have been so keen to have them.
The ANC were terrorists, as were the French resistance, agreeing with a group's aims doesn't prevent them from being terrorists.
Bruce Hooker - on 31 May 2013
In reply to Sir Chasm:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker) Perhaps if the USSR had let people have jeans and bics to start with the people wouldn't have been so keen to have them.

But they didn't make them and didn't see the need at government level, wrong perhaps but not entirely irrational, man can live without blue-jeans and ball-pens.

> The ANC were terrorists, as were the French resistance, agreeing with a group's aims doesn't prevent them from being terrorists.

I agree, I was arguing this on another thread but in the mouth of Mr Thatcher and even many today the term is entirely pejorative, "terrorist" = "baddy".

In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> Certainly not Britain, Thatcher regarded them as terrorists.

I was an ANC youth member in the 80s and used to sell raffle tickets for them at school! The British section was huge and raised lots of money and got political support. I suspect there was similar in many other countries too.

I don't see how that is much different from people for instance supporting the Green movement in Iran now. It's not foreign powers but it is "interference" in the internal affairs of other countries.


Sir Chasm - on 31 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: "But they didn't make them and didn't see the need at government level, wrong perhaps but not entirely irrational, man can live without blue-jeans and ball-pens."

They actively prevented people having them. Which made people want them all the more. But it wasn't about jeans and bics was it? They represented the west and freedom and they couldn't have that.
ice.solo - on 31 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to ice.solo)
>
aside from not being able to fathom you as non-political at any age, i concurr with all that.
especially the line about iran not being a candidate for unconditional change.....unless thats what they want.

does it not make sense to put the mechinations of change into the hands of the most educated, secular, outward looking, future-looking and least nostalgic?
David Martin - on 31 May 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

> russias game i really fail to understand. their upping the ante with arming the govt with very serious systems is a major escalation of the stakes. seems amazing they give a shit that much that they are prepared to take the intervention stake to such a level.

I suspect they are desperate to be seen as the reliable partner who sticks with its man through thick and thin. They've been backing a number of losers recently, to their own detriment and against Western pressure. I imagine a few Russian clients might be wondering when Russia will crumble to Western demands, so they're keen to prove their reliability. They do (and probably always have) seem to pride themselves on taking the contrary position, perhaps helped by China's strength and similar "go it alone" mentality. To that end I imagine they will stick to their guns. They should have abandoned Assad long ago, based on his record, but they don't seem to mind a$$holes that much. They have the outreach of Russia Today to give their viewpoint now in a way that probably once wasn't possible.


Mike Stretford - on 31 May 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to Sir Chasm)
> [...]
>
>
> I agree, I was arguing this on another thread but in the mouth of Mr Thatcher and even many today the term is entirely pejorative, "terrorist" = "baddy".

Language evolves when 'many' or most use a word in a particular way and discussions get silly when posters revert to simple definitions out of context. French resistance is a particularly silly example as all side in ww2 were 'terrorists'.
MargieB - on 31 May 2013
In reply to Eric9Points: Removing the arms embargo is a signal primarily to Russia to deter them from deploying S300 missiles. Negative sabre rattling- you don't deploy yours and we won't deploy ours.Afterall there are negotiations on offer and it could be construed that Russia is derailing those if it deploys.Russia is also a cult of the personality- the hard man Putin has "face" to consider and can possibly justify to his own people that he can't deploy because of the West- and he won't loose face. He's got his cronies to keep satisfied and they prop him up. To Assad its irrelevant that we remove the arms embargo because it is a penultimate diplomatic step. Only when America steps up its alliance obligations is he threatened. All this a gamble in the chaos of war but the premise still seems to be negotiation as the way to resolve matters, and we can still look on until the factions weary of the blood letting and resolve to gather around the notion of a Syrian Nation. Unless Lebanon goes under..... and then the domino effect of regional war is more imminent.That's a different matter and very fearful.
David Martin - on 31 May 2013
In reply to MargieB:
> (In reply to Eric9Points) Removing the arms embargo is a signal primarily to Russia to deter them from deploying S300 missiles. Negative sabre rattling

Wouldn't the smart move by Russia then be calling this bluff? Either we aren't actually willing to throw weapons to the rebels as claimed, or we do and it goes tits up on an even larger scale. I think the Russians would come out of that looking ok - if both sides in the conflict look equally bad at least they can be claiming to support Assad, who as head of state at least looks more legitimate.

Much might come down to how the assorted rebel groups behave and how they are reported in the media.


Bruce Hooker - on 31 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:

How can you consider that the fight against apartheid, one of the foulest regimes of the 20th century is comparable with a political combat to destabilise a sovereign country like Iran? I may not agree with many of their options but no one can deny that the Islamic Revolution and Khomeiny had immense popular support against the dicatotorial regime of the Shah.

Obviously it's value judgement on the individual level but coming back to what I said, there wasn't much in the way of an effort at the state level against apartheid, (was there any?) certainly no sanctions like their are against Iran and no extra-judicial murders against S Africans as there have been against Iranian scientists.

You reveal your inner self in this post, no more Mister nice guy :-)
Bruce Hooker - on 31 May 2013
In reply to ice.solo:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
> [...]
> aside from not being able to fathom you as non-political at any age,

I only really started reading about politics when I came to Paris at 24, I took a couple of years off to read.
>
> does it not make sense to put the mechinations of change into the hands of the most educated, secular, outward looking, future-looking and least nostalgic?

I don't think it does, no.

Having said that, they have their role to play but not as a dominant force, smart educated people often miss the woods for the trees, they need to be kept under control by the "ignorant masses", who aren't really as ignorant as all that, they see things from a different perspective, from floor level. I often insist that I'm not a member of the CP anymore but I still have some Marxist residue :-)

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Bruce Hooker - on 31 May 2013
In reply to Papillon:

> French resistance is a particularly silly example as all side in ww2 were 'terrorists'.

Not at all, the French army maintained a consistently traditional approach to warfare throughout, as did the British mostly. People claim that the bombing of Dresden etc was terrorist but it wasn't it was to destroy German industrial production by targeting the workforce as much as factories, terrible perhaps but not terrorism. Terrorism is usually adopted in situations of unequal warfare by the weaker side. But do we have to get back into dictionary definitions again?
Bruce Hooker - on 31 May 2013
In reply to MargieB:

> Removing the arms embargo is a signal primarily to Russia to deter them from deploying S300 missiles.

But the EU never has applied an arms embargo, they have been supplying the rebels with arms, ammunition and even men right from the start, as they did in Libya.... not openly, of course, but through their allies and clandestinely. They are training people in Jordan and Turkey at this very moment.

As for the Russians, they are defending themselves, they know that Syria, then Iran are shields to defend Russia, just the same policy as when the USSR set up buffer states in E Europe as a defensive zone against NATO forces.
MargieB - on 31 May 2013
In reply to David Martin: Well, Israel says it will blow the shipment out of the water, so I suppose the question to Russia is "How lucky do you feel?"
David Martin - on 31 May 2013
In reply to MargieB:

Its one thing to blow up a mysterious site in the Syrian desert, even to kill a few people on a peace flotilla. But surely sinking a Russian arms shipment (possibly even a Russian ship) might be a step too far? I'm not sure what the relationship is between the large number of Russian Jews in Israel and Russia itself, but it seems this could be a step too far.
In reply to Bruce Hooker: > but coming back to what I said, there wasn't much in the way of an effort at the state level against apartheid, (was there any?)

What are you on about? There was basically an industry within the UN that rightly and continuously condemned and marginalised apartheid South Africa. OPEC wouldn't sell them oil, total OAU sanctions, there were arms embargoes and vast numbers of people around the world wouldn't buy SA products - some chains like the Coop wouldn't sell them - I remember my mum always checking that fruit wasn't South African. Then you had all the sporting and cultural boycotts.

Moscow was also one of the biggest external funders for the ANC and SACP, but plenty of other countries contributed weapons and in the case of Cuba, even troops to fight against SA and SA-proxies in southern Africa.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aopKk56jM-I
Bruce Hooker - on 31 May 2013
In reply to TobyA:

I boycotted S Africa too, along with Israel and similar fasho states but no Western governments did and what you say about the UN is bollocks, they did nothing concrete... Maybe OPEC did a bit but they still got oil from somewhere else. The main change was internal, from pressure by the blacks but they were under very strong repression, and when sectors of the white industrial classes wanted to move on.

The sporting boycott was very contested by sporting people themselves, "keep politics out of sport" was the slogan of all Conservatives. Of course the Coop did it's bit but that's normal for obvious political reasons. Your Mum was right but the British government didn't do anything much... much the same as now for Israel, individuals protest a bit, the UN makes noises as do the oil states but nothing is done against them even after horrors like the Gaza bombardments.

On the other hand when it comes to sending in the bombs or financing mercenaries like in Libya or Syria, people like Cameron and Holland are bustling to see who can play the toughest.

The USSR and other communist states did their bit to help fight apartheid, just as they try now to counterbalance those who support conservative forces in the world, but you no longer approve apparently :-)
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> but no Western governments did

Rubbish. The Swedish government for example directly supported the ANC from the early 70s onwards, the Finnish govt. from the late 70s, Canada had strong sanctions on it from the 80s. eg. http://www.nelsonmandela.org/aama/country/category/sweden

> what you say about the UN is bollocks, they did nothing concrete...

Once again you seem to be jolly confused or just making stuff up as you go along hoping people don't actually know you are wrong http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Security_Council_Resolution_418

I am amused by the your total lack of consistency on issues like this; KGB funding militia armies in southern Africa in the 80s very good, CIA training FSA militias in Jordan now very bad. Hezbollah troops intervening in Syria good, but any foreigners fighting against Assad are "mercenaries"*.

*The irony being they are actually volunteers, doing because they believe in it.
Bruce Hooker - on 01 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:

OK, so for you a few minor countries compared to the major ones - Britain, USA, France etc. are what counts? Same for the UN, no concrete measure were taken and compared to the number of resolutions against Israel by the UN, it hardly had the S Africans shaking in their boots, did it? The military aid from Cuba to anticolonial movements in Mozambique and Angola played a small role but I'm surprised you approved them!

> I am amused by the your total lack of consistency on issues like this; KGB funding militia armies in southern Africa in the 80s very good, CIA training FSA militias in Jordan now very bad. Hezbollah troops intervening in Syria good, but any foreigners fighting against Assad are "mercenaries"*.

You just don't get the idea that there are value judgements to be made. I call them mercenaries because that is what they are, they fight for pay as have all the jihadists since they were first set up to fight in Afghanistan, paid by the USA and Saudi Arabia... without money they don't fight, calling them jihadists is just to cover up what is above all a financial situation. Just as the USA uses private forces to fight some battles, in Iraq for example. They are dressed differently, paid a lot less, but they still fight as a way to feed their children.

As for Hezbollah, they have come in as a result of the foreign intervention that has gone on since for nearly two years, to defend Syria but certainly also to defend themselves - if Syria and Iran fell to Western influences how long would Hezbollah last in Lebanon, and how long would the Palestinian liberation movement last on the ground? The war was started two years ago, by people who allowed themselves to be led by the nose, 80 000 deaths later they may be regretting it but the war is on now and spreading...maybe it would have been better if pro-Western propagandists like yourself hadn't thrown oil on the flames?
samreddevilz - on 01 Jun 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward: my favorite quote mate. thnx for sharing it !
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> OK, so for you a few minor countries

Well you said none, and if you listen carefully you can hear 30 million Canadians and 8 million Swedes sobbing at you calling them "minor countries". They're both gentle nations so I'm sure you've hurt their feelings.

We'll leave aside the rather proud history that both Sweden and Canada have as norms-entrepreneurs in international relations, but it's worth remembering that still one of the abiding conspiracies over Olof Palme's assassination is that it was the South African secret service.
Gudrun - on 02 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> They're both gentle nations so I'm sure you've hurt their feelings.
> Sweden and Canada

Where did i read again about how when Canada was showing some disapproval to the US genocide in Vietnam it was supplying more weapons or ammunition to the US than anyone one else?

Not so gentle after all.
Gudrun - on 02 Jun 2013
In reply to Gudrun:

"How can they have the arrogance to dictate to us where we should go or which countries should be our friends?
Gadhafi is my friend.He supported us when we were alone and when those who tried to prevent my visit here today were our enemies.They have no morals.We cannot accept that a state assumes the role of world policeman."

Nelson Mandela,1997.
Bruce Hooker - on 03 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:

You have a most amazing way of cutting through the pertinent to latch onto the barely relevant then boosting it to a mantra level :-)
Bruce Hooker - on 03 Jun 2013
In reply to Gudrun:

S Africa tried to support Libya until the end but they just don't have the wealth and the firepower to compete with "democracy" :-)

http://www.yalerecord.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/democracy_will_come.jpg

In reply to Bruce Hooker: That would be you just being wrong on the facts. Twice.

Why state stuff so boldly if you don't know whether it's true or not?*

*Please note; I didn't accuse you of being dishonest or trying to deceive, just not knowing what you're talking about.
MargieB - on 03 Jun 2013
In reply to David Martin: Reuters: they are reporting that the S 300 deployment is being frozen. That must aid the negotiations. So the strategy seems to have worked in at least maintaining the momentum of dialogue and reducing hi tech weapons going in there. Now its up to the Syrians ..
Eric9Points - on 03 Jun 2013
In reply to MargieB:
> (In reply to David Martin) Reuters: they are reporting that the S 300 deployment is being frozen. That must aid the negotiations.

A step in the right direction. They were also planning to sell them 10 new fighters or bombers, not sure which. I wonder if they've delayed their delivery as well.
Bruce Hooker - on 03 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:

Like on the other thread you take your opinions for facts, and more than twice.

The fact is that most capitalist governments did not support the anti-apartheid movement. The opposition was, with a few exceptions you've cited, at individual level - campaigns by groups and parties not by government. For example were there sanctions on S Africa of a level similar to those against Syria or Libya in the past? The answer is no. Your Mum did governments didn't.

To be clear, what concrete actions did the USA, UK, France, Germany take to bring down apartheid, a regime based on racial oppression of a kind even worse than in Israel or any other state I can think of today?
Bruce Hooker - on 03 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:

Here you, I'll do like you and give you a link, it confirms what I've said above whether it falls outside of the "Toby World Fact Sheet" or not:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Apartheid_Movement#Olympic_participation

Even a rapid read will confirm that "the West" was consistently opposed to action against apartheid, sanctions etc. and within the West the UK and the US ardently so.
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> To be clear, what concrete actions did the USA, UK, France, Germany take to bring down apartheid,

That's not being "clear", that's changing what you said because you were wrong. You said that no western states helped against South Africa, and you were wrong. You'll get no argument from me about the UK government not doing enough, and that civil society was much more important in Britain.
In reply to Bruce Hooker: Your link shows they were expelled from Olympics?! Don't we all know that sporting sanctions were important in making white south africans feel marginalised?
Bruce Hooker - on 03 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:

You're scraping the barrel now, the sporting "sanctions" were not decided by governments, even less so than by Western governments. Like at the UN, it was governments of ex-colonies, the commonwealth and so on backed by anti-racist, anti-apartheid and mostly left wing movements that pushed for sanctions - no binding UN resolution was ever voted. To be fair some religious leaders did their bit too, but not major Western "democratic" countries.

I said Western governments didn't do much, and it's true - were Canada and Finland major trading partners of S Africa, which one was the most important? Did it, ie. Britain, take sanctions? You have the answer in the wiki article, even Harold Wilson when elected by a landslide back-pedalled and refused to impose sanctions.

Once again you are really being dishonest here, it's hard to see why, the wiki articles makes it clear who opposed sanctions and who didn't yet you still insist on cherry picking, not quite lying but giving a false impression... why?
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

You seem to be becoming forgetful old bean.

> I said Western governments didn't do much,

No you didn't you said "no Western Countries" did anything (19.05 Fri). When I showed you that you were wrong about this - that a number of western countries gave direct aid to the ANC, you said those countries were just "minor" so they didn't count.

I don't disagree with you at all that the the powerful Western governments did little against apartheid era South Africa and that civil society groups led the way in most countries, but you were factually wrong when you said none did anything, and wrong that the UN "did nothing concrete"; the UNSC imposed a unanimously supported arms embargo on the country.

Of course you were exaggerating for effect, but that meant you were actually playing fast and loose with the facts. Why not just admit that and move on?
Bruce Hooker - on 03 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:

So you've googled three minor countries who cut off their probably fairly inexistent trading with S Africa, how does that change the fundamental facts that S Africa's major trading parties like Britain, even under a Labour government, refused?

> the UNSC imposed a unanimously supported arms embargo on the country.

After how many years of black S Africans being killed, herded into reserves, tortured and imprisoned? But this didn't stop S Africa from getting all the arms it needed from Israel and elsewhere or made them itself. It hardly needed H-bombs to murder unarmed demonstrators. How they got round the ban here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Security_Council_Resolution_418

You seem more interested in trawling for chinks than looking at the main questions.

I just looked back to see where S Africa comes into this thread about Syria and it is from this exchange:

Me:
> we shouldn't forget that as in any country there are also internal class conflicts at work and as an outside force we shouldn't back any one side in this either.

You:
> So the Chilean resistance to Pinochet shouldn't have been backed? Or no backing for the ANC?

A classic TobyA red-herring, argument ad absurdum!

You've given up (with reason) on the Pinochet connection but you are still looking for chinks on S A. You can stop on this particular red-herring though as whatever the details are it's pretty clear that the intervention by Western governments in Syria, arming, paying, training armed militias, punitive sanctions, air raids from Israel, goes far beyond what even Canada, Finland and Sweden did to help the ANC, and also that whatever Assad may have been responsible for it's hardly on the same level as the vile regime in S Africa, in which blacks were treated as under-people, and others, like Indians, were treated as half way to being real humans... institutionalised racism of the most despicable kind.



In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> So you've googled three minor countries who cut off their probably fairly inexistent trading with S Africa, how does that change the fundamental facts that S Africa's major trading parties like Britain, even under a Labour government, refused?

It doesn't, but that's not my point. My point is once again you were playing fast and loose with the facts. And my point of raising South Africa still stands though; you said that as an outside force we shouldn't take sides in other country's domestic problems. I disagree (and it seems in some cases, so do you).

BTW, if it was the South African intelligence services that murdered Palme, do you think they saw Sweden as so "minor"?

> You can stop on this particular red-herring though as whatever the details are...

Those would be the details you didn't know, but - yes - moving on...
Bruce Hooker - on 04 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:

> you said that as an outside force we shouldn't take sides in other country's domestic problems. I disagree (and it seems in some cases, so do you).

I said an outside government, it used to be the basic principal that sovereign states respected the sovereignty of other sovereign states, it's a major part of the UN charter. This has been questioned since the USA became the one and only super power and felt it could ride rough-shod over us all but we don't have to be foolish enough not to see what the "responsibility to protect" doctrine is really about.

> Those would be the details you didn't know...

Or that weren't relevant as they don't change the basic truth, repeated several times in the wiki article I linked for those who don't remember, that the calls by many individuals, groups, countries of the developing world and the socialist block to impose serious sanctions on S Africa were consistently and successfully refused by the Western block, with the UK and the USA playing a major role. That's the real meaningful fact, you are just grasping onto the minor facts that go against the dominant position.

As usual it's hard to see why.

Concerning Olaf Palme, maybe he would still be alive if Sweden's allies, the tenors of the "free world" like Britain and the USA had supported his morally correct position?
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> I said an outside government, it used to be the basic principal that sovereign states respected the sovereignty of other sovereign states, it's a major part of the UN charter.

Except for it never happened. The Cold War proxy wars being the most obvious cases, but there are probably more states that have intervened in other countries' affairs than haven't since the UN was formed.

> This has been questioned since the USA became the one and only super power and felt it could ride rough-shod over us all

Plenty of other states intervened in the affairs of others before the end of the Cold War, most notably the USSR, and many have continued since.

Bruce Hooker - on 04 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:

Plenty of state interventions took place - funny you say "most notably the USSR" when most people of our generation think of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia Iraq, and so on, but that's another subject - but many were prevented too by the balance of power between the two super-powers and the fear of atomic war.

Wasn't it you who posted figures to counter the notion that there were more and more wars since WW2? Maybe it was another poster but this was a popular bit of table talk not long ago.

Do you think Yugoslavia, particularly Serbia, or Libya would have been taken out so easily by the West if the USSR had still been in existence?
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> Plenty of state interventions took place

So you're agreeing with me now? Before you said "it used to be the basic principal that sovereign states respected the sovereignty of other sovereign states, it's a major part of the UN charter. This has been questioned since the USA became the one and only super power"

I said the USSR because, as ever, you only mention the US but this was a product of the bipolar cold war world.
Bruce Hooker - on 04 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:

There were interventions, too many, but many were avoided... it wasn't so gung ho as it is now, with the result that often within countries extremists are ready to get a movement going in the hope, the certainty in their heads, that once people start dying Uncle Sam & Co will come in and zap the government troops for them.

I'm sure you are aware of the birth of the R2P notion, our dear Blair had a hand in it IIRC. As usual it's hard to refute the principal but it's the way, the extent and the rapidity with which it is applied that makes a "good idea" a bad one... sometimes. You seem to have difficulty with subjectivity and nuances - here you say I agree with you but you know in fact that's not what I said.
Bruce Hooker - on 04 Jun 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:

Here's an article from the BBC about Syria:

"Why there is more to Syria conflict than sectarianism"

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22770219

I'm not saying I'd go along with all the conclusions but the overall description of the many components of Syrian society is interesting IMO.
andyathome - on 04 Jun 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:
Is this thread still going? Hell's teeth. Move on.

Now. Should we be arming the Turkish rebels......?
Bruce Hooker - on 04 Jun 2013
In reply to andyathome:

Limited concentration span, eh?

Life's longer than the time to scoff a MacDo :-)
andyathome - on 04 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to andyathome)
>
> Limited concentration span, eh?
>
> Life's longer than the time to scoff a MacDo :-)

Thinking more of a pitta with humous and felafel. Good Turkish fare.

As their insurrection starts.....
Rob Exile Ward on 04 Jun 2013
In reply to andyathome: It's not an insurrection, it's a US sponsored attempt to overthrow the elected govt and replace it with a US puppet, because that has always worked so well and Obama is into that sort of thing.

900 posts and you've learned NOTHING.
ice.solo - on 05 Jun 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:

investigation report in

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22765692

pretty much as expected - theres no good guys, just varying degrees of bad.
lets see who listens to whats quoted in the last few paragraphs (the bits summarized but not quoted are interesting/concerning - i hate how the bbc does that).
seems the french govt has already made up its own mind. that idiot cameron may be not far behind.
seems russia has got last minute cold feet with their bluff.
Bruce Hooker - on 05 Jun 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

Cameron is toing Hollande's line this morning, even though the Carla del Ponte said the opposite the other day - ie. she accused the rebels of using chemicals. The other "amusing" thing is the official (ie. repeatedly quoted) total deaths figures - it increases by 10 or 20 thousand from time to time, and at others remains static - for a while it's been 80 000. Why can't they just admit they don't know how many have been killed since regime change got under way in Syria?
Simon4 - on 05 Jun 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

> pretty much as expected - theres no good guys, just varying degrees of bad.

Amen to that! It also fails to say much about the carry-over into the neighboring countries, especially but far from exclusively Lebanon, which is huge. Syria has for a long time viewed Lebanon as essentially Syrian territory, rather like Saddam Hussein viewing Kuwait as his by rights.

> seems the french govt has already made up its own mind. that idiot cameron may be not far behind.

I completely fail to see any sense in the fringe witterings of either of these 2 Western governments, it seems like a classic case of

"but we must do something"
"Well this is something Minister"
"Well lets do it then"

> seems russia has got last minute cold feet with their bluff

Or rather that Iran/Hezbollah have done enough, with sufficient brutality and ruthlessness for them not to need to. At the moment, it looks as though the Asad regime, against all expectations a few months ago, is just, as it were, winning - with a great deal of external intervention/help from its Shia allies. The solution (or rather conclusion), looks as though it is going to be entirely military, which may well be followed by even more brutal retaliation against the losing side and population groups like the Sunnis and Christians, which will cause even more refugee exoduses, thus further destabilising the (already very close to the brink), neighbors.

A very nasty mess, hard to see anything good coming out of it.
Bruce Hooker - on 05 Jun 2013
In reply to Simon4:

As you say it's a mess, but an avoidable one IMO.

Concerning Lebanon, it is involved by the simple fact that across the border the similar population mixtures and attitudes exist - the frontier is an artificial one, dreamt up by the French and British in the 20th century for their own interests primarily.

> even more brutal retaliation against the losing side and population groups like the Sunnis and Christians,

I think you'll find the Christians are more scared of the Sunnis than Assad, who many of them support him for just this reason. If the UN and other "friends of Syria" really wanted to be real friends they could be aiming more at avoiding post war reprisals than stoking the fires now.

Assad has said he intended to stay put at least until the next normal election date - 2014 IIRC - which could suggest he could consider stepping down then. For the sake of a year this sort of face saving compromise might be a better objective than Camerano-Hollandesque war mongering.

Simon4 - on 05 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> As you say it's a mess, but an avoidable one IMO.

Given that it has been going on for at least 1400 years in one form or another, particularly the Shia-Sunni split, it is rather hard to see how it could have been avoided.

> .. the frontier is an artificial one, dreamt up by the French and British in the 20th century for their own interests primarily.

In a sense one can say that all the post-Ottoman empire boundaries are somewhat artificial, given that there was substantial population movement within the Ottoman empire, but nonetheless different areas had distinct history and native populations. Of course all boundaries and population distribution within the fertile crescent are the result of war, with the last population that massacred/displaced the previous one screaming blue-murder and atrocity when the same is done to them.

> I think you'll find the Christians are more scared of the Sunnis than Assad, who many of them support him for just this reason.

This may be true, but confirming it is as hard as determining the facts about which atrocities have taken place and who has been responsible for them. I doubt if many of the Syrian population of whatever sect or ethnicity have the freedom to pick sides according to their freely-expressed wishes at the moment.

> If the UN and other "friends of Syria" really wanted to be real friends they could be aiming more at avoiding post war reprisals than stoking the fires now.

As ice-solo has pointed out, none of the "friends" are real friends, there axes being ground on all sides.
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Eric9Points - on 05 Jun 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:

Seems that MPs are wanting to make sure they're consulted and agree to any arms shipments before they happen: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/06/05/mps-arming-syrian-rebels_n_3390000.html

Nice to see Parliament wanting to scrutinise the actions of Government for a change.
Bruce Hooker - on 05 Jun 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:

'Meet the 'Friends of Jihad' By Pepe Escobar

Western politicos love to shed swamps of crocodile tears about "the Syrian people" and congratulate themselves within the "Friends of Syria" framework for defending them from "tyranny".

"Well, the "Syrian people" have spoken. Roughly 70% support the government of Bashar al-Assad. Another 20% are neutral. And only 10% are aligned with the Western-supported "rebels",'


http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MID-03-050613.html

BigBrother - on 05 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: My browser warns me of malware when I try opening that page. Interesting.
Bruce Hooker - on 05 Jun 2013
In reply to BigBrother:

It's ok, I look at it quite often, "Asia Times" - sometimes it pops an advertisement window up but that's all. I don't think it will steal your soul.
Gudrun - on 05 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> "Well, the "Syrian people" have spoken. Roughly 70% support the government of Bashar al-Assad. Another 20% are neutral. And only 10% are aligned with the Western-supported "rebels",'

This is the real reason why the NATO islamist terrorists would not participate in the first Syrian multi-party election of 2012.
Rob Exile Ward on 05 Jun 2013
In reply to Gudrun: 'NATO islamist terrorists '

Er ... shome mistake surely?

Can you just recap in simple words why NATO wishes to create a fundamentalist Islamic state in Syria? Just so the rest of us understand.
Postmanpat on 05 Jun 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

This may help (or just deepen the mystery)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10100943/Can-David-Cameron-explain-why-he...

All very depressing.
ice.solo - on 06 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> "Well, the "Syrian people" have spoken. Roughly 70% support the government of Bashar al-Assad. Another 20% are neutral. And only 10% are aligned with the Western-supported "rebels",'
>

so a vast majority with russian and farsi backing cant contain a minority group of guerillas - jeez those cia guys must be good!
what bullshit. its mock stats like those that turn this conflict into an episode of bonanza.

escobars (surprise, surprise) a little hazy on the source of those stats. i suspect those stats are bullshit. just like the numbers of dead - how could it be realistically known when international groups that collect such data are refused entry by the govt. says a lot about the govt.
70% govt support is hard to see in almost any country, particularly one at war with itself.
in a place that had never held proper elections thats a pretty fantastic set of stats to arrive at, further warped by being damascus-centric.

my guess is they came from an 'ngo' of syrian expats assisting their friends who stayed in damascus under the moniker of an organization. the lack of any name or declared anonimity speaks volumes - escobar of all reporters would milk any real connections if he had them. the UN cant get these details but he can? yeah right.

my guess is its 20% are behind the govt, 10% are genuine rebels, and the 70% in question are split between confused people just wanting it to end and dissafected young hoodlums playing to shifting mob politics in the most interesting event they were ever going to be involved in.
dek - on 06 Jun 2013
In reply to ice.solo:
He is a bit 'deluded'... They obviously forgot to poll the vast number of Syrian citizens in those huge refugee camps.
Bruce Hooker - on 06 Jun 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:
> (In reply to Gudrun) 'NATO islamist terrorists '
>
> Er ... shome mistake surely?
>
> Can you just recap in simple words why NATO wishes to create a fundamentalist Islamic state in Syria? Just so the rest of us understand.

Maybe for the same reason they worked with these sorts of people in Libya?

Bruce Hooker - on 06 Jun 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

> my guess is its 20% are behind the govt, 10% are genuine rebels, and the 70% in question are split between...

But, as you admit, that's just a guess (too) :-)

There have been elections though, including for the new constitution, even if the opposition boycotted it and it was done during a civil war and right from the beginning people who knew the country well explained that Assad was supported by an alliance of minorities who were scared of a Sunni/Muslim Brotherhood dominated state - and that even many Sunnis saw this as the best of the various imperfect options available.

70% support would clearly include the "silent majority", to say the least, but then do you really think that those used as human shields by rebels and their foreign mercenary helpers are altogether happy with their situation? For normal people a certain lack of democracy is preferable to civil war, massacre and destruction.
In reply to ice.solo: Yeah - I wondered exactly the same. If he has a copy of this "suppressed" or whatever NATO report - then that's excellent journalism. He should have the pdf up and linked to the article and everyone else would be writing articles about it too crediting him. As it is, it sounds like he just pulled those stats out of his bum.
Gudrun - on 06 Jun 2013
In reply to ice.solo:
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> "Well, the "Syrian people" have spoken. Roughly 70% support the government of Bashar al-Assad. Another 20% are neutral. And only 10% are aligned with the Western-supported "rebels",'
>
> so a vast majority with russian and farsi backing cant contain a minority group of guerillas - jeez those cia guys must be good!
> what bullshit. its mock stats like those that turn this conflict into an episode of bonanza.

I would have thought comparing a horrific war with an episode of some US TV pish is disgusting bullshit but this type of nonsense should be expected from you.Do you really need me to point you at all the civil wars created by a small minority,supported by outside imperialists which continued for a few years,with little support from the vast majority of the population?

Is this so surprising for you...shock horror! How can this happen?
Take your Uncle Sam blinkers off and the truth is there,try it out to save yourself from further embarrassment

> how could it be realistically known when international groups that collect such data are refused entry by the govt. says a lot about the govt.

No,no it doesn't really.International groups have been kept away from many conflicts,or are you not aware of this groundbreaking news?

> 70% govt support is hard to see in almost any country, particularly one at war with itself.

Yet this i'm sure to your amazement has been achieved many many times.

> in a place that had never held proper elections thats a pretty fantastic set of stats to arrive at,
How?
> further warped by being damascus-centric.
As opposed to being Washington centric which would be completely legitimate and "International" in your eyes.

> my guess is they
> my guess is its

My guess is that you like to guess and nothing more,or is this another of the very many places in which you are some sort of local expert?Nah of course not,you just like to guess using your conditioned Washington centric bias.

More wars,lies and regime change by US imperialists and Co,astonishingly supported by many crackpot pundits i must add.
Gudrun - on 06 Jun 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:
> (In reply to Gudrun) 'NATO islamist terrorists '
>
> Er ... shome mistake surely?
>
> Can you just recap in simple words why NATO wishes to create a fundamentalist Islamic state in Syria? Just so the rest of us understand.
First sorry i took a bit longer to reply but the weather is far too good to be wasting time on UKC atm.
I should have realized you wouldn't understand Rob,by saying 'NATO islamist terrorists 'i mean't 'NATO islamist terrorists ' and not "NATO .....fundamentalist Islamic state in Syria"

Double o heaven.
PS.and it would be shome mishtake surely!
2/10
ice.solo - on 07 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to ice.solo)
>
> But, as you admit, that's just a guess (too) :-)
>
> There have been elections though, including for the new constitution, even if the opposition boycotted it and it was done during a civil war and right from the beginning people who knew the country well explained that Assad was supported by an alliance of minorities who were scared of a Sunni/Muslim Brotherhood dominated state - and that even many Sunnis saw this as the best of the various imperfect options available.
>
> 70% support would clearly include the "silent majority", to say the least, but then do you really think that those used as human shields by rebels and their foreign mercenary helpers are altogether happy with their situation? For normal people a certain lack of democracy is preferable to civil war, massacre and destruction.

a guess based on a degree of time spent involved in such things, which i appreciate escobar has too - but im not selling newspapers...

agree totally that syria was on the way somewhere with the electoral process - but as yet wouldnt call them realistic elections. 'boycott' is an interesting way of describing the banning of opposition candidacy on trumped up restrictions.
it may appear as a step on the democratic process but it played a major part in the f*ckery that lead to what we have now. the semblance of proto-democracy but only a greater degree of authoritarian abuse plays a big role in the unrest.

i think too youre right re the collectives of minority sects, even the liberal sunnis - but when large volatile population groups (and ones that have strong ties to nasty and/or foreign groups) are intentionally marginalized its ridiculous for assad to have thought it would have passed without event. reeks of a regime choosing to back its methods with force rather than use negotitation - which is where we currently are (and its likely too late).

of course i dont think the war-torn population is happy being abused - by every side. and in hindsight im sure theyd choose the old way over the current one. but thats just what it is - hindsight. enough people had enough hope from what was going on elsewhere (including promises being made by the shia factions) to make that gamble.
and not just those opposing assad, the minority ethnic groups sheltering in assads wake played into it too; the same limitations on religiously-organized groups that denied representation to the big sunni and kurdish also gutted much of their protection.

thing is, everyone is losing here.
ice.solo - on 08 Jun 2013
ice.solo - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:

nice. just when things looked like they were bad enough, now we maybe have the start of suicide bombings.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22852957

Eric9Points - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

Great...

I'm more concerned about the impending offensive on Allepo. Is this going to result in an escalation in the proxy war?

There was a depressing report on R4 this morning about the Iranian elections. Seems that most of the candidates that have been allowed to stand are hard liners and there's little prospect of a change in tone from Tehran.
Bruce Hooker - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

These aren't the first, there have been loads in the past - often both sides claim it was the other who did it. As the civil war seems to be going in favour of the government we can expect more of the same, plus attempts to bring Israel's firepower into the war. It's a pity the yanks won't give Syria any Patriot missile systems to defend their air space... funny really :-)

One positive side to things is the situation in Turkey, the secular opposition there should take the heat off Syria for a while.
Bruce Hooker - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:

> I'm more concerned about the impending offensive on Allepo.

Don't you think the citizens of Allepo have the right to security then? Living under Taliban style gangsters can't be much fun for them.
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BigBrother - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to Eric9Points)
>
> [...]
>
> Living under Taliban style gangsters can't be much fun for them.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/aleppo-syrian-rebels-execute-teenager-mohammad-k...
In reply to BigBrother: Bruce won't believe that because it was reported by the pro-NATO/imperialist shop-keeper from Coventry, or whatever he calls him.
ice.solo - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

bit late for patriot, but maybe some stingers or scuds for the 'friendly' rebels....oh, hang on.....

i thought al nusra almost always claimed the suicide attacks in the past?
but yes, as the 'real' army ramps it up the homemade militias will resort to insurgent tactics. even if assad is reinstalled it may well be the long term scenario.

grim.
Bruce Hooker - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

I don't think it would be grim if the West and it's regional dictatorship allies stopped financing the bloodshed... But as they probably won't, encouraged by the passivity of their own populations and a total lack of organised political opposition to the destabilization at home, then you may be right.

It seems people are only "anti-war" when they are told to be.
Simon4 - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

> bit late for patriot, but maybe some stingers or scuds for the 'friendly' rebels....oh, hang on.....

Well the law of unintended consequences has a nasty habit of biting you in the backside. Fools rushing in, and all that, may be best to leave ill alone.

> grim.

Very. UN reported casualties now up to 93,000 deaths, this is a major war, apart from its massive potential to destabilise an already chronically turbulent region. Don't know how accurate their figures are, you may know more about that. Deaths are of course separate from the massive refugee problem and attendant misery and hopelessness.
Bruce Hooker - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to Simon4:

Apparently this is all part of a glorious "Arab Spring", bringing happiness and prosperity to the Middle East.

That's what many posters keep telling me anyway.
MG - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> That's what many posters keep telling me anyway.

Where?
Rob Exile Ward on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to MG: I was going to ask the same question but couldn't be bothered.
MikeTS - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to David Martin:
> (In reply to MargieB)
>
> I'm not sure what the relationship is between the large number of Russian Jews in Israel and Russia itself, but it seems this could be a step too far.

they went to Isarel to get away from Russia/Soviet Union. In Israel they are very hostile to Arabs, so would probably approve of weakening any side in this confict

Bruce Hooker - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to MG:

Try doing a search on arab spring, or simply look at a recent post on the "Sam Harris on Islam" thread, a post by Tim Chappell mentions it, which is why it was in my mind:

Tim:

> Lots of Muslims are busy working very hard, often making terrible sacrifices, for reformation and renewal in the Muslim world. (Ever heard of the Arab spring?)

TobyA has often contested my somewhat morose views on the subject too... Some of you appear to have a limited concentration span, or is it a case of "controlling the present to control the past"? The initial enthusiasm, naïve IMO, which saw secular progressive movements rising to the task in Egypt or Tunisia turned out to be an optimistic appraisal of the balance of forces in these countries; it's now clear that the principal structured, implanted and capable forces are those linked to Islam, like the Muslim Brotherhood. Now they are openly showing the strength that quite a few Middle East specialists (I don't mean me, of course) predicted they would so some of the early "Spring" enthusiasts are back-pedalling a bit.

Fortunately in the case of these forums what people wrote is archived so anyone desperate enough to want to can look up what was posted.
MG - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: No I was asking about what you wrote above. Who is telling you *Syria* is part of a "glorious Arab Spring"? I don't anyone has describe the Arab Spring as glorious and I don't think anyone keeps telling you Syria is part of it.
Simon4 - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> TobyA has often contested my somewhat morose views on the subject too...

Actually most people seem to have pretty morose views as well, notably but far from exclusively Ice-Solo. More importantly there is a high possibility of an impending street by street fight for a city (Aleppo), with a multi-million person population (at any rate pre-war, who knows what it is now), probably preceded by indiscriminate artillery bombardment and air-strikes. Horrific though this war has been so far, if the expected attack on Aleppo takes place and is brutal as it might well be, everything that has gone before could be nothing but a curtain-raiser.

> The initial enthusiasm, naïve IMO, which saw secular progressive movements rising to the task in Egypt or Tunisia turned out to be an optimistic appraisal of the balance of forces in these countries

A few people may have thought that there could only be a good outcome from the overthrowing of the stale and corrupt dictatorships that were in place before the disturbances, most were probably aware that what tends to succeed tyranny is not harmony but anarchy.



Bruce Hooker - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to MG:

So you yourself have never said used the term "Arab spring" in a positive tone? And no one else on ukc has either? You know that is untrue, or is it the word "glorious" you are sticking on?

Similarly have you never seen what is going on in Syria related to what has been going on in other "Arab countries"? Once again you know that is untrue.

Obviously the whole myth that there has been a totally spontaneous movement in countries referred to as "Arab" and that this was a great white hope for the future of the Middle East is simplified and nearer spin than reality but I know from having spent hours arguing this view, and getting mocked for my pains, that this was not the dominant point of view expressed on this forum. Now that the dark side has become clearer, to the point that even the fans of the past feel uncomfortable - the murder of the US ambassador and the mob rule in Libya doesn't really fit in with the old headlines either, so people back pedal, rewrite in their minds what they said at the time.

There's nothing wrong with admitting one's errors though, some seem to find it hard though.
Bruce Hooker - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to Simon4:

> Actually most people seem to have pretty morose views...

Now, yes, in the press too, but it's not what was said at the time.

> A few people may have thought that there could only be a good outcome from the overthrowing of the stale and corrupt dictatorships...

Which shows that the idea that it can't get any worse is often a mistake, it can, and often does, get worse. Libya is an even clearer example as the whole of Saharan Africa is discovering, as well as the French army.

off-duty - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

Your "morose views" appear to include accusing other posters of blindly supporting the rebels.

Everyone appears to have pretty nuanced views on the complexities and awful tragedies involved in this, including you. (Though obviously excluding Shona "it's all the West's fault and Assad is a saint" ;-)
MG - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> Similarly have you never seen what is going on in Syria related to what has been going on in other "Arab countries"? Once again you know that is untrue.
>
Not for a long time and only very loosely. No one has tried to suggest a direct link on here that I can remember recently and certainly they haven't kept telling you this. And yes, glorious did catch my attention. I don't think anyone has claimed anything close about Syria.

> There's nothing wrong with admitting one's errors though, some seem to find it hard though.

Indeed. Have you looked up "framed" yet?

Simon4 - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> Which shows that the idea that it can't get any worse is often a mistake, it can, and often does, get worse.

Well worth bearing in mind for those who think that the current government of a given country can never be worse. The opposition politicians frequently take that as a challenge rather than a stern warning, though I believe Hollande will take some beating in the lousy government stakes, but you probably know more about that than I do.

> Libya is an even clearer example

Not necessarily. Ghadaffi and sons certainly were quite explicitly threatening urban massacres when they retook Benghazi, so although it has been far from peaches and cream, it can still be argued that the intervention MAY have been justified. Personally I was very uncomfortable with it at the time, then subsequently more inclined to think "well we got away with it" rather than "what a fantastic success"!. In any case, one can never tell the result of counter-factuals in history. It is certainly not clear that intervening in Libya was the wrong thing to do, though it could very easily have gone horribly wrong.

More to the point however, there may well be a brutal urban slaughter impending in Aleppo, and it does not seem appropriate to be making cheap points about who said what, when, on a climbing website. Of course there is precious little that any of us (or for that matter the Western powers), can do about it, but with a high chance of a massive, brutal tragedy which may be along the lines of the Warsaw uprising or the siege of Manilla, a little more decorum might be more suitable.
In reply to off-duty:

> Everyone appears to have pretty nuanced views on the complexities and awful tragedies involved in this, including you. (Though obviously excluding Shona "it's all the West's fault and Assad is a saint" ;-)

Someone now with on the ground experience of Damascus and with vaguely similar views to Shona! http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/jun/11/bnp-nick-griffin-syria-assad
Bruce Hooker - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:

> Everyone appears to have pretty nuanced views on the complexities and awful tragedies involved in this, including you.

Many do now but they forget what they were saying a couple of years ago, like in the press in general, public opinion is basically coming round to admitting that this is not just peaceful demonstrators against wicked Assad and his cronies... who are either really nasty or terrorised into following him (I read this quite recently still, conversion is not complete).

There are several reasons why, IMO, the first being that one too many rebel atrocities have come out, can no longer be completely hidden, but also, behind it all, this mirrors a change in US (and hence British) foreign policy. They can see that it won't be a quick fix like in Libya and don't think the effort required is worth it, plus Obama now settled for his final term wants to aim at something less sordid and more long term. The Middle East is over, oil shales have taken care of that, the future is the Pacific basin now. So just mopping up in the ME and Obama's quest for long term glory has changed track. Washington watchers somewhere may well be able to point out a change in those around Obama which corresponds to this?
Bruce Hooker - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to Simon4:

> More to the point however, there may well be a brutal urban slaughter impending in Aleppo,

Change Aleppo with Benghazi and you have the same line of spin that justified the NATO aggression against Libya, killing proportionally far more people than have died in Syria already. Let's wait and see, given that no one can do much else anyway.
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Bruce Hooker - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to MG:

> Indeed. Have you looked up "framed" yet?

Have you? You can be so trivial quite often.
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> this mirrors a change in US (and hence British) foreign policy. They can see that it won't be a quick fix like in Libya and don't think the effort required is worth it, plus Obama now settled for his final term wants to aim at something less sordid and more long term. The Middle East is over,

You don't appear to have read this morning's global headlines then.

As ever you're constructing strawmen and pretending that's what other say, rewriting the history of the conflict, and soft pedaling on the appalling violence committed by the Syrian regime against it own people.
Bruce Hooker - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:

I hadn't seen the headlines, so Obama has decided to go down the Bush road after all. Clearly I over estimated his intelligence... you yankee groupies must have got to me by attrition. So how many deaths now?
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> I hadn't seen the headlines, so Obama has decided to go down the Bush road after all.

I think someone would have noticed if the 5th fleet and the majority of the USMC was one on the move, so not really. Perhaps we could call it more accurately the "Putin road", but not yet the "Nasrallah road".

> So how many deaths now?

Well the UN conservatively estimated 93,000 yesterday. And whilst the fighting stalemate continues I guess that's going to keep rising at similar rates.

Simon4 - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> Change Aleppo with Benghazi and you have the same line of spin ...

Except that Ghadaffi did in fact threaten a massacre, live and on air, while it seems pretty clear that there have already been several sectarian massacres in Syria (hard to tell but it seems that the state is significantly more guilty than the rebels), also Syrian forces are massing to retake Aleppo, so this hardly seems like spin, any more than reporting the lead-up to Srebreniza was spin.

Not that I think that supplying the rebels with quantities of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles is a good idea, it seems blisteringly stupid for all sorts of reasons. There just don't seem to be any good options here, these events are going to play themselves out for ill or worse. One can only hope that Hezbollah is not the major winner of this conflict.
Eric9Points - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to Simon4:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
> One can only hope that Hezbollah is not the major winner of this conflict.

It would be convenient if Hezbollah and the Al Quaida nutters obliterated each other but that's too much to hope for.

I heard an interview with Jack Straw on the radio this morning about the Iranian elections. He did hold out hope that if one particular candidate were to be elected then there is the possibility of an improvement in relations between the West and Iran. Probably the best hope for those caught in the cross fire. Not quite sure why the US Government announced the decision to supply arms today as this could make life for a reforming Iranain PM more difficult. I would have thought it better to wait.
Bruce Hooker - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to Simon4:

> Except that Ghadaffi did in fact threaten a massacre, live and on air,

> while it seems pretty clear that there have already been several sectarian massacres in Syria (hard to tell but it seems that the state is significantly more guilty than the rebels),

Both these statements are disputed, concerning what Gaddafi actually said, and if it was just rhetoric or not, while concerning the massacres in Syria, some early ones were actually refuted by the Arab League team sent to investigate and especially of late clear evidence of "rebel" massacres have come out, and given the amount of spin being spun in all directions how can you be sure?

Recent disputes are more and more propaganda wars with the aim of getting the sledgehammer to crack a nut of the US Army, via NATO to intervene to sort out local conflicts. Truth is the first victim, as they say, and the population is the second.

I just wonder how many countries the Western world has to "save" before people notice that it doesn't seem to be working very well? Or rather that it works, but only to save the economic and political interests of the savers, not the savees, if the word exists?

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MID-02-140613.html

In reply to anyone interested:

Friday night reading: http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2013/jun/12/syria-inventing-religious-war/ A politically motivated religious dimension to Assad's (jr. and sr.) "secular" "republic".

Also, this is interesting: http://brown-moses.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/munitions-used-to-attack-lebanese-town.html Syrian government firing onto a Lebanese town. Of course the town turns out to be predominantly Sunni, but this seems to further increase the chance of Lebanon becoming further sucked in.
ice.solo - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:

yes, interesting stuff there. cheers.

been a bit off a week for the matter eh? on top of the scenario is qasair, russia, the us and iranian presidential influences and some bleating by cameron and the guy from the BNP.
the release of the un commissioned death toll reports (and the links within them which prove even more interesting).

i am sick of the pop media rhetoric on it all tho - if i hear another presenter liken obamas latest decision to bush-iraq-intel im going to vomit. what a moronicly convenient summation for a scenario that couldnt be more different. can the masses not accept that the democrats will make their own mistakes?

personally i think there are still solutions on the table - but all of them involve things getting nastier before they can begin to stabilize. presenters keep talking about the 'lessons learned from afghanistan and iraq' and i think they are right, but not in the way they mean, ie dont go there. by defining a clear objective, foreign assistance i think is approaching its time - unfortunately the processes of defining such objectives are muddied by decision makers in places like washington and moscow choosing informal comments rather than executive meetings.
Gudrun - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:

So now Obama has made up his very own WMD style lie just like his predecessor,to fool the public and hide the real reasons behind arming the people trying to destroy Syria.

Knowing Americans I suppose it was just a matter of time.

No one must stand up to the US or it's regional managers and that is precisely what the Libyans,Hezbollah,Syrians and Iranians have been brave enough to do.

This country stinks of the blood of millions from our endless wars,agitation and interference to keep the US empire and its component regional dictators,old European colonialist/fascist countries and US "dependent"states free to do what ever they want and all as always to serve the needs of the US economy/the rich.Imposing a murdering tyrant on Iran when they voted for someone who cared about the Iranians and not US/UK oil profits,when not directly engaging in war themselves installing other brutal dictators who combined murdered many millions in massacres and wars promoted and encouraged by the US and its corporations,to ensure nothing more than continued US financial dominance.

That is what this has always been about and always will be all the other excuses,falsehoods,smoke and mirrors(TobyA) are a sham,a lie just like Bush and his WMD and all the other lies that form all US admins.

“The foremost requirement of the United States in a world in which it proposes to hold unquestioned power"

US planners memorandum from the State Dept 1945.

The US grand area strategy will always continue in one form or another and to argue otherwise is to be complicit in the continuing murder of people who stand up for themselves and others against the empire.

Gudrun - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Simon4:

> Aleppo, so this hardly seems like spin, any more than reporting the lead-up to Srebreniza was spin.

Oh there was an abundance of spin concerning Srebrenica i can tell you and not just from your anti-Serbian NATO PR of Ruder and Finn.
Gudrun - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to ice.solo:
This
> if i hear another presenter liken obamas latest decision to bush-iraq-intel[WMD] im going to vomit. what a moronicly convenient summation for a scenario that couldnt be more different
then
> can the masses not accept that the democrats will make their own mistakes?
Yes,yes we can and that is precisely why"the masses" see the similarities in both "moronically"blatant lies.
Do you think the Democrats are some fresh faced newbies that want world peace ,reconcilliation and progressiveness?
Do you know who they are?or anything about them?
Obviously not.
So let me give you a wee lesson about who is behind this so called 'democratic party'that is in essence just the other faction of the same totalitarian business party that lives in the Whitehouse.
Lets start with an old favourite and top advisor to Obama,Zbigniew Brezenzski.The very guy who said he "created the whole Afghan Jihadi movement to fight the Soviets in 1979,yes the guy who's idea it was to organise,train fund and radicalize 10's of thousands of young unradicalized Muslim men into an army of Jihadis-"Whats a few riled-up Muslims when we were getting the Soviets"
Clinton would later actually fly in some of their massive new Mujahideen army from Afghanistan to fight for NATO/Izebegovic's Islamic army against the Commie Serbs.
Madeline Albright- adviser to H.Clinton,who infamously answered that the deaths of 1/2 million babies and toddlers from US/UK sanctions in Iraq" was a price worth paying".
Gen Wesley Clarke the man who should have been up for war crimes in the Hague instead of Slobodan Milocevic along with Clinton and Blair and 63 other NATO personnel for the bombing of Serbia.
Holbrooke another Obama adviser who during that other 'Democrat' Carter's admin supplied the Indonesian army while they invaded and murdered 1/3 of the pop of E.Timor,also responsible for blocking UN sanctions at the security council against this illegal invasion.
Anthony Lake,another key Obama adviser who pushed for the invasion of Haiti by the Clinton democrats and removal of the democratically elected president Aristide.Ushering in the IMF/World bank and obviously malnutrition and more death to a country continually bled dry by the USA.

These are only some of the experienced democrats behind Obama who have been making"their own mistakes" for decades and decades.But the difference is that to Americans they are successes and lets face it nothing else matters except what is good for America.
Gudrun - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> Someone now with on the ground experience of Damascus and with vaguely similar views to Shona!

Toby you know what?
As always.....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06npsDwUkZ4
Dominion - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:

> Anyway, I'm searching for a reason why the UK should get involved to such a degree, let alone the rest of the EU.

Private Eye (Issue 1342, P9) points out the influence of one Waffic Said on David Cameron, and also points out that Said's wife has contributed some £450,000 in donations to the Conservative Party since 2006...

Waffic Said is said to be a middleman in quite a few middle east shady arms deals ( Al-Yamamah - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Yamamah_arms_deal - for example ) and has also been consulted by Mandelson and Blair.

So there's a lot of money involved...
Eric9Points - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to ice.solo:
> (In reply to TobyA)
>

>
> personally i think there are still solutions on the table - but all of them involve things getting nastier before they can begin to stabilize.

Do you think those solutions have to involve the West? I still haven't heard a convincing argument as to why it's in our national interest to get any more involved than we are.

Anyway, good news from Tehran: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22916174

Let's hope that someone senior in the US State department is booking their tickets for a trip to Tehran just now. Surely the US must see this as a great opportunity to improve relations with Iran and so help to resolve the conflicts, not just in Syria but in Palestine and Iraq as well.
In reply to Eric9Points:
> I still haven't heard a convincing argument as to why it's in our national interest to get any more involved than we are.

What's the national interest? Do we have the same interests just because we're British? Is the national interest to sell lots of weapons made by British firms? Is it to stand up for liberal democratic values? etc. etc.
Eric9Points - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Eric9Points)
> [...]
>
> What's the national interest? Do we have the same interests just because we're British? Is the national interest to sell lots of weapons made by British firms? Is it to stand up for liberal democratic values? etc. etc.

I could read that two ways.

a) What would our national interest in the outcome of the Syrian war be? That is what I am asking because I don't see why the UK would be damaged in any meaningful way by either side in Syria prevailing.
b) How do you define "national interest"? I guess that depends upon the circumstances but could be our economic well being, our security...something like that.
MikeTS - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Eric9Points)
> [...]
>
> What's the national interest? Do we have the same interests just because we're British?

There is a marginal argument I think that the rebels would be less of a direct threat than Iranian / Shiite hegemony in the region, since this soon could be armed with missiles and nuclear weapons able to reach Europe. A fundamentalist Sunni regime would at worst run a few suicide actions against the west.
In reply to Eric9Points: I very much meant your (b) option - and I meant it rhetorically I guess. In academic IR (international relations) the idea of "national interests" hasn't really been taken seriously since the end of the 1980s, as the term doesn't mean much when you start to unpack it. It tends to end up meaning the interests of whichever groups in a country have the most power.
Gudrun - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:
Did you see the ineresting link to an article about Cameron in the Telegraph further up? which whilst stating some truths missed out the biggest one of all.

"Many of his remarks were those of a man with only a tenuous grip on reality. What was missing was common sense. We have seen this many times before."

"The longer a prime minister remains in 10 Downing Street, the more likely he or she is to go mad. Something of the sort happened to Gordon Brown and also, from 2003 onwards if not before, to Tony Blair."

"From the start, Mr Cameron (just like Mr Blair in Iraq)"

What is missing and is indeed no mystery whatsoever to our selective memory,nor is it some sort of strange mental effect of the tea in 10 downing street that causes these seemingly unexplainable and irrational decisions.It boils down to Blair being told what to do by the Bush Admin and Cameron being told what to do by the Obama Admin,to help get rid of the people we don't want(School of Americas talk for murder)by any means.
All the lies and deceit is an attempt to justify the means to the masses that will believe practically any rubbish that is fed to them these days.

National interest? They are the empire,we do everything they tell us just like everyone else does,oh except the ones on their hitlist.
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Gudrun - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> the idea of "national interests" hasn't really been taken seriously since the end of the 1980s,

"The United States reserves the right to oppose any arrangement that does not protect Security Council resolutions and what we perceive to be America's national interest."

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson in 1998.

Would you like quotes from Bush sr,Clinton,Dubya or many others of that ilk about the importance of "national interests?
In reply to Gudrun: Try reading the whole sentence sweety.

BTW I liked your drum and base link - reminded me of mid-90s thursday night in the Sub Club.
ice.solo - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:

very much agree there re iran. the lynch-pin nation.

should any solution involve the west? like it or not it has to. the west has never not been involved - just as have been the other players like russia, iran etc.

its a hugely complex matter obviously, but after 2 years syria has shown it cant deal with this itself. they are willing to kill each other for more reasons than can be explained, and that foreign players are involved isnt new or unexpected - they were also there before the collapse into war. its a matter of weighing up the roles they play and determining what the west has to contribute. russia is open and willing to supply arms (its worth noting that russia is just as good at supporting groups that go bad as the yanks are), as is iran and shia iraq. china is happy to support a govt despite its brutality. turkey and turkish groups support who they fancy, as do those that back the sunnis.

some of the groups the west aligns with want western assistance, for all sorts of reasons. do western govts deny them this whilst groups that want russian or iranian get what they ask for? does the west stand by whilst people it backed for decades go unaided - thats as much what lead to tthe taliban as arming them in the first place. we have to learn from all the lessons - not just the ones pop culture regurgitates.

western nations also need involvement as part of the greater international application of international law. its a west-centric thing - but who else will apply it? china does f*ck all for international stability despite pretending to be a major economy and sitting on the security council. russia ignores it. japan has no useful application. other than europe the rest of the world is basically not involved.
without international oversight we get what usually happens when those who should be watching dont - somalia, afghanistan, cambodia. we are already 2/3 of the way there in some ways.

this doesnt mean aerial campaigns, blackwater and jar heads. but it means applying sanctioned processes where local processes are failing. it means protecting syrians where they cannot protect themselves, from both themselves and dubious foreign groups like hezbollah and al nusra that choose to exploit them. does the west not step in and risk future atrocities? they will happen.

'the west' (something that needs a lot of defining before being a useful term) isnt watching this as they did afghanistan, iraq, yugoslavia, somalia etc. theres lessons too in the way sudan, mali, algeria and pakistan have been mis/managed. syria is a unique problem where many of the previous 'rules' dont apply as they did before. resources are very different for a start

agree totally that its hard to justify national interests, but as toby points out - it need not be in the interests of our nation. it needs to be in the interests of the syrian nation. which doesnt mean the govt, and doesnt mean the sunnis, but does mean the nation of people at the cross roads of a volatile region thats very affected by large players because its not integral enough to stand on its own feet.

Bruce Hooker - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:

> It tends to end up meaning the interests of whichever groups in a country have the most power.

Hallelujah, you've become a Marxist at last! It's never too late to see the light :-)
Postmanpat on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: As I've said many a time my dear Bruce, you've always presumed you know what I think rather than actually reading.

But due to my age and having studied sociology and IR in British universities, it would be very odd if my approach didn't have some Marxist influences on them, although I guess it's far more neo-Marxist/Critical Theory than straight Marxist.

The odd thing is though I don't really see your way of seeing the world as being remotely Marxist or Critical these days. You've decided who the baddies are (us/U.S.) and those who resist are therefore the goodies. Your criticism is only one way, and sympathising with tyrants is where you end up.

Anyways, have a lovely Sunday you ole' Tankie you. ;)
Bruce Hooker - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:

> it's far more neo-Marxist/Critical Theory than straight Marxist.

I never suggested you were straight.

PS. No one say tankie anymore, only Trots ever did anyway.

> having studied sociology and IR in British universities

I think that's your problem, learning politics at school is never going to help you understand much, it's not designed to do that. To learn about politics you have to do them, and that's where you are clearly lacking - it's all so theoretical and first degree as if the truth were evident, and verifiable by a reference.

You accuse me of "straw-manning" and yet say I "sympathise with tyrants"... This is not what it's all about, it's not a question of sympathising with the governments concerned, but with the peoples, and situating this in a world view... have the peoples of Iran, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria benefited from Western "help" or not? You drag this down to a simplification which, by pure coincidence, doubtless, just happens to look very similar to the spin proffered by the dominant capitalist forces in the world.
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> I think that's your problem, learning politics at school is never going to help you understand much, it's not designed to do that. To learn about politics you have to do them,

Because you went to the university of life and the school of hard knocks eh? :)

Your point is of course rubbish in two ways, one - it's simply not true; your posts here often contain things that are simply and demonstrably wrong, often because you seem completely uncritical of your sources and willing to believe anything that agrees with your preconceived political position, something that I hope any undergrad in the social sciences should at least be warned against. You're also always telling people to read books, something I heartily agree with, but then what is studying beyond that? And then secondly, you don't have any idea of what sort of politics I 'do' as opposed to what I have a studied.

Your point on the interests of the people of Syria - to take the most pertinent example to this thread - would also ring truer if for example you could admit that a major section of Syrian society clearly felt oppressed and marginalised under the quasi Assad monarchy and were willing to protest against it facing violence, or that the Syrian regime has shown itself quite ready to massacre its own civilians in the civil war, just as it happily imprisoned and tortured those that spoke out before the war.
cragtaff - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to Eric9Points: We shouldn't be arming any Arabs, let them arm each other and kill each other all they like, but let us keep well out of it.

I suspect both sides (or all 27 of them) are all as bad as each other, so let them get on with emliminating each other.
Simon4 - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to ice.solo: Well I normally think you talk a lot of sense and are well-informed, but I think you are way off-beam here.

There is a huge level of intervention going on from Iran, Russia and their proxies. That town on the supply line was more or less directly captured by Hezbollah militiamen, while it has been reported that 4000 Iranian troops are being directly sent to Syria, for straightforward combat purposes. Russia is propping up the regime with very substantial arms deliveries for its clear vested interests.

Nothing would stop the effect of this intervention except counter military intervention on a comparable scale, which is very dangerous and is not going to happen. The rebels would need to be supplied with large quantities of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to stop the coming attack on Aleppo, which they would not be trained to use and of course could give no guarantee whatever that they would not fall into very bad hands indeed - even if it were possible to get them into the city in time, which seems highly unlikely. In fact the "general" defending Aleppo has recently presented a "shopping list" requiring among many other things hundreds of thousands of rounds of (for example) Kalashnikov ammunition. Basically the Assad regime thinks it can straightforwardly win and may well be right, its sponsors are prepared to do what it takes to ensure that their long-term investment in Syria and Shia groups is not lost. Very importantly also the regime think that they have no alternative OTHER than to win outright. Russia and Iran do not share Western hesitation and are likely to be far quicker on the draw, even if "the West" decided on significant action.

So realistically, even if we wanted to intervene (and there is actually very little appetite for doing so), it is not possible, we might be able to do a few things around the edges like trying to stop the war spreading to Jordan or the Golan Heights. Lamentation, wringing of hands and some help to refugees seem like the only likely options, and there won't be much enthusiasm even for those as this is an unfashionable war, involving people none of whom we like or trust very much - for good reasons, though this doesn't/shouldn't really apply to the civilian collateral damage.

I give it 6 months tops before the Lebanese civil war breaks out again.
Bruce Hooker - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:

> your posts here often contain things that are simply and demonstrably wrong,

Unlike you, then? You seem to have picked up Tim's method of "arguing"! You frequently claim things which others think are absolute nonsense, you show a marked pro-Western, pro-Israeli bias which is flagrant... this is a political position of yours, but to pretend that it corresponds to anything but an opinion is clearly nonsense... proof enough that your "training" in university wasn't particularly efficient, to say the least.

I would have thought that you would at least have come out of all those years studying with the ability to analyse what you are fed by the media a little critically.

Your point about the present Syrian regime would have more value if we weren't discussing the Middle East, and if we hadn't just seen an example of a fairly prosperous and independent state - Libya - being ransacked by a vicious and deadly foreign invasion leaving much of it in ruins and handing the country's oil industry back to the foreign plundering it had escaped decades ago and setting up a Mad Max style area of armed gang rule.

Didn't they even teach you to analyse past situations and apply the lessons to future similar ones?

> if for example you could admit that a major section of Syrian society clearly felt oppressed and marginalised under the quasi Assad monarchy ..

Again, his master's voice speaking! The previous major armed conflict with the father of this Assad in charge was as a result of the Muslim Brotherhood attempt at regime change, the present one is largely inspired by the same people, but helped by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and sundry Al Qaeda style mercenaries - many flown in directly from Benghazi to try and do the same as they did there... It would be nice if you would at least acknowledge this... Also that if the Alawites felt the need to form an alliance with Christians and Druzes it was because they were victims of oppression at the hands of the Sunni majority... would you at least acknowledge this too, as you've never felt the need to mention it? Lastly in the present government there are numerous Sunnites, and many in the population still, after 2 years of fighting still support Assad... any chance of you recognizing this?

Finally as for the politics you "do", I have a very clear idea of what they are from your posts here, your opinions are very obvious and you have never even had the openness to mention any political or trade union affiliation or militancy in your past so we can only judge on what you say now. As a US general said of the Vietnamese people, "They look like the Vietcong, they dress like the Vietcong, they act like the Vietcong so we can only assume they are the Vietcong" - Applying this to you we have a fairly clear idea of where your political acts, if there are any, would lie.
Bruce Hooker - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to Simon4:

You don't seem aware of the amount of Western intervention already going on? Arms supplied though Saudi Arabia and Qatar, going though Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, training camps in Jordan and Turkey, Islamist mercenaries flown in from Libya and finding their own way there through the above channels and Iraq as well. Just look at the tv news film, they are very well armed as far as light weapons and rocket launchers are concerned and don't seem to lack explosives for car and suicide bombs.

All this has been reported in even main stream media for quite a while.
PopShot on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to Simon4)
>
> and don't seem to lack explosives for car and suicide bombs.
>
>

I think we should help to get rid of the Assad regime in any way we can but arming suicide bombers is a step too far imo.
PopShot on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: Or is this just conspiracy theories?
AJM - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

Interesting you seem to see Islamist mercenaries being something the US are supplying ("flown in") - can you confirm that you actually believe the US is actively involved with moving Islamist militants into Syria?!
MikeTS - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to TobyA)
>
> [...]
>
> Unlike you, then? You seem to have picked up Tim's method of "arguing"! You frequently claim things which others think are absolute nonsense,

I go away for 3 weeks to the mountains in Peru, fall off the telecoms event horizon, come back: and you two are still at it!
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> The previous major armed conflict with the father of this Assad in charge was as a result of the Muslim Brotherhood attempt at regime change, ... Also that if the Alawites felt the need to form an alliance with Christians and Druzes it was because they were victims of oppression at the hands of the Sunni majority... would you at least acknowledge this too, as you've never felt the need to mention it? Lastly in the present government there are numerous Sunnites, and many in the population still, after 2 years of fighting still support Assad... any chance of you recognizing this?

Once again you ignore the timeline of the uprising and the socio-economic and human rights situation before it in order to try and deny the Syrian people any agency and turn everything in to "two sides". The rise of Jihadi groups within Syria took the best part part of year to actually happen after the revolution began. JaN have only become the preeminent anti-govt. fighting in force in the last 9 months or so.

And of course there are people from all denominations or sects on both sides of the political divide but as the conflict has progressed and become increasingly violent, ideologies have hardened and sectarianism has come to the fore. I'm not sure how anyone who has tried to follow the news wouldn't get this. I could see why Alawis wouldn't want to side with anti-Assad forces like JaN, but still some are against Assad -enough to make the Cairo conference happen- even though this puts them at risk from sections of both the pro- and anti- govt. forces. The Druze are also split, Jumblatt has even told Syrian Druze that they should depose Assad. The govt. has had a number of prominent Druze executed for being against it, and other have died fighting for the FSA. The Palestinian refugee population in Syria has generally split from the govt. leaving them in terrible situation. Ironically even Hamas has split with Hezbollah because it has also turned against Assad - ironic in that it was sheltered by Damascus for so long.

I'm not sure who you think doesn't believe that foreign Jihadis have streamed into Syria, but then so have Hezbollah, Sadrists and Republican Guard "advisers" for the other side.
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> and you have never even had the openness to mention any political or trade union affiliation

You wouldn't have heard of my trade union I'm sure, but if you're dying to know it's called Yhteiskunta-alan korkeakoulutetut ry and I've been a shop steward in two different work places. Well you did ask. ;)

I vote Labour in the UK and Green in Finland, does that make you feel better?
Bruce Hooker - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:

And were you involved in political activity beyond voting?

The way you voted corresponds to what I would have guessed BTW.. So in Finland foreigners can vote?
Rob Exile Ward on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA: I used to be a member of the International Woodworkers of America, I've still got the card somewhere - I wonder how Bruce will place me with that!:-)
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Postmanpat on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to AJM:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
>
> Interesting you seem to see Islamist mercenaries being something the US are supplying ("flown in") - can you confirm that you actually believe the US is actively involved with moving Islamist militants into Syria?!
>
Am I right in understanding from this thread that the Sunni-Shia split in the Islam world doesn't date back to the 7th century AD but was the result of CIA and western provocation and funding? Or maybe by their provocation in the 7th century?

In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> So in Finland foreigners can vote?

We've discussed this numerous times in the past, yes, and I know you've said you can't vote in France. Here all residents vote in locals, EU citizens in Euros, and I've just sent back my forms for my overseas voter status with my constituency in England.

But meanwhile, back to Syria...
xplorer on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:

Americans and the uk government openly state the tried to undermine saddam I. The same way it's happening in Syria. Our governments will continue to rule the world by taking over country's and destroying them from the inside out. It's oil and money, it's that simple. How anybody can't see that is beyond me. Country leaders that have kept their distance from the west, know that if they attack their own citizens NATO would intervene.

Believe me I'm no conspiracy theorist, just look into the history of our governments actions with perpetual war and you can see the facts.
Bruce Hooker - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to AJM:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
>
> Interesting you seem to see Islamist mercenaries being something the US are supplying ("flown in") - can you confirm that you actually believe the US is actively involved with moving Islamist militants into Syria?!

The USA invented jihadism over 30 years ago when the built up the forces which fought the Soviet troops intervening in Afghanistan to prop up the regime there. This was done with Saudi finances and the help of Egypt under Saddat and Pakistan as the route in. Since then they have both used and fought against such Islamic mercenaries according to circumstances. They used them successfully against Gaddafi in Libya then in Syria. Several plane loads according to various reports you could find on internet if you google.

PopShot on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to Postmanpat:
> (In reply to AJM)
> [...]
> Am I right in understanding from this thread that the Sunni-Shia split in the Islam world doesn't date back to the 7th century AD but was the result of CIA and western provocation and funding? Or maybe by their provocation in the 7th century?

Yes. The CIA have been interfering in the middle east since the 1st century I've heard.
AJM - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

Well aware of the US intervention in Afghanistan. Given how the experience worked out I am rather surprised you think they still play that game. Interesting that almost every other news report seems to suggest that one reason why the US has dithered about intervention in Syria is because of the risk of weapons finding their way into Islamic hands.

Incidentally, nothing much seemed obvious when I googled "islamists backed by usa from libya to syria planeload", but I'm sure if the material is there you'll be able to assist with my Internet searching inadequacy. Otherwise, I will have no option but to call bullshit...
Sir Chasm - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to xplorer: How does meddling in Syria secure oil for the west?
Bruce Hooker - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:

I'm happy to go back to Syria if you stop using your "tankie" nonsense... talk about straw-men, you're an expert yourself!

If we do as you suggest and look at the time line you must surely agree that Hezbollah has started getting involved long after foreign mercenaries/jihadists, whatever you want to call them, started helping the local rebels? And also would you deny that the Muslim Brotherhood, a militant Sunnite group related to the same in Egypt and at present calling the shots there, were involved in the initial anti-government movements? The polarisation is hardly new, it's been a major feature in both Syria and Lebanon for a very long time. I don't doubt that the various groups are themselves split too but all this just goes along with my initial views expressed back then that this was a civil war, not just a population victim of a dictator.

Coming back to the time line but further back, when Libya was under NATO bombs Syria was quiet but at the time I predicted that it, or possibly Algeria would be the next to suffer a "spontaneous" explosion... I was right, wasn't I? And the only reason we haven't seen no-fly zones/NATO regime changing Tomahawks and bombs is because the Russians and the Chinese refused to be taken for a ride a second time.

The main question on which I differ with you is the same as in Libya, did the original responsibility for bloodshed come from the government sides or was it manipulated? Given the track record of those who have so many tens (hundreds?) of thousands of troops, bombs, ships and bases in the Middle East, thousands of miles from home, I think my version is more probable than yours.
Simon4 - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to xplorer:

> Believe me I'm no conspiracy theorist ...

Can I get back to you on that one?

This is a serious subject and not really appropriate for flippancy, but there is an old saying "never trust anyone who says 'trust me'"

Doug on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA: Don't want to get involved in this long & repetitive thread but I do have French polling card but I've yet to try to use it - I'll see next year. And I had to be registered as 'English' as the software doesn't have British (or Scottish, Welsh or N Irish) as options (& yes I show the woman my passport where it clearly say Great Britain & Northern Ireland)
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> I think my version is more probable than yours.

I don't have a version Bruce - I'm just interested in what happened. There are no "versions" of what happened, there's just what happened.

In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> Coming back to the time line but further back, when Libya was under NATO bombs Syria was quiet but at the time I predicted that it, or possibly Algeria would be the next to suffer a "spontaneous" explosion... I was right, wasn't I?

No, Syria wasn't quiet, the uprising had already just begun a few days before NATO launched its first attacks in Libya (19/3/11). This is exactly what I mean about you getting your memories mixed up.
Bruce Hooker - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to AJM:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
>
> Well aware of the US intervention in Afghanistan. Given how the experience worked out I am rather surprised you think they still play that game.

They used them in Libya, don't you watch the telly?

> Interesting that almost every other news report seems to suggest that one reason why the US has dithered about intervention in Syria is because of the risk of weapons finding their way into Islamic hands.

That's the line at present but it ignores the fact that arms have been arriving in Syria for a long time via Qatar and Saudi Arabia, who are the close allies of which well known Western country?
>
> Incidentally, nothing much seemed obvious when I googled "islamists backed by usa from libya to syria planeload", but I'm sure if the material is there you'll be able to assist with my Internet searching inadequacy. Otherwise, I will have no option but to call bullshit...

I'm sure you'll do that anyway but in case you really want help try Asia Times or many others web sites which don't just supply US spin.

PS. I just typed "islamists from libya to Syria" into google and found loads of articles, maybe you are using a defective version of Google? Here's the first hit, of many:

http://world.time.com/2013/05/29/libyans-arming-syrian-rebels/



Bruce Hooker - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
> [...]
>
> I don't have a version Bruce - I'm just interested in what happened. There are no "versions" of what happened, there's just what happened.

You can' expect me to believe you studied what you say you did and can post a line like this! No one has access to the absolute truth, even the concrete facts, second by second of millions of people are impossible to follow precisely and what really matters, what is going on in the head of each actor, is impossible to know. Every event that goes beyond very small ones, like did A kill B, is necessarily a "version" - even for A killing B it talks months of trial, mountains of evidence and so on and doesn't always get it right even then. How can you even imagine you can know "what happened" in a situation like that in Syria?

AJM - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> They used them in Libya, don't you watch the telly?

To assassinate their own ambassador, right?

I think you may be getting your timelines and cause/effect confused slightly here, but I doubt we are ever going to persuade you that the Libyan uprising wasn't a western plot so for my own good I'm not going to engage with that one.

> That's the line at present but it ignores the fact that arms have been arriving in Syria for a long time via Qatar and Saudi Arabia, who are the close allies of which well known Western country?

You've not seen the commentary about how by not getting involved the US has allowed Qatar and Saudi to further their own proxy struggle with Iran by supporting Islamists at the expense of more secular fighters then I assume.

> PS. I just typed "islamists from libya to Syria" into google and found loads of articles, maybe you are using a defective version of Google? Here's the first hit, of many:
>
> http://world.time.com/2013/05/29/libyans-arming-syrian-rebels/

The problem of course is that there's no mention of the US in that article as far as I can see. So again, evidence of the US involvement? Not just Islamists going there, but being "flown in" or whatever it was you claimed earlier?

Bruce Hooker - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
>
> [...]
>
> No, Syria wasn't quiet, the uprising had already just begun a few days before NATO launched its first attacks in Libya (19/3/11). This is exactly what I mean about you getting your memories mixed up.

So now you call it an "uprising", I thought it was supposed to have started with peaceful demonstrations, that's what you've said up to now.

As for the time line, are you saying, I didn't say that Syria or Algeria would be next when we were discussing Libya? If Syria was already clearly into major problems why didn't you agree at the time with my "prediction" and tell me not to predict the obvious?

I think you have a flexible memory!

In reply to Bruce Hooker: Yes, yes - of course, but things happen on certain days for example which are before or after other days - but not always in "your version" as you demonstrated above. You also tend to post links to Global Research and Escobar's AT articles full of assertions with no back up, that you then repeat as if they were facts - i.e. Mr Escobar's secret NATO public opinion poll we discussed last week.
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> As for the time line, are you saying, I didn't say that Syria or Algeria would be next when we were discussing Libya?

You were predicting something that had already happened then! Is that 'anti-clairvoyancy'?
Gudrun - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to AJM:
> Interesting that almost every other news report seems to suggest that one reason why the US has dithered about intervention in Syria is because of the risk of weapons finding their way into Islamic hands.

Do you think if Russia and China had allowed themselves to be tricked by the USA again like they were with Libya,then the US military would not have intervened a while back?
Gudrun - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to AJM:
> the commentary about how by not getting involved the US has allowed Qatar and Saudi to further their own proxy struggle

Again,the US would be involved if Russia and China hadn't blocked them,so rather than do an Iraq again they must do things covertly using proxies,this stuff is old hat!
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Bruce Hooker - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to AJM:

> To assassinate their own ambassador, right?

No, that was after the regime change, I meant during the civil war... the news was full of shots of large white soldier speaking English and giving orders to locals jihadists. Eastern Libya is a stronghold of islamist groups. Towards the end of the war the movement which took Tripoli was lead by a well know islamist leader. No need to go to weird internet sites, it was all on the BBC. As were the pallet loads of bank notes being loaded by fork lifts onto planes to be flown to Libya to pay the militias/mercenaries. The money was confiscated from Libyan government funds... Don't tell me you didn't see it?

> The problem of course is that there's no mention of the US in that article as far as I can see.

The first few are about all that's happening in a town in Eastern Turkey, which is a prominent member of which military organisation dominated by which country? That's right, the USA, who have set up a whole base there specially to take care of this and also have installed Patriot missile systems to protect the whole set up... again which country is doing this? Seriously you are making an enormous effort to not see what's going on. Who except the USA can supply Patriot missile systems?

As for US involvement, try adding "US involvement" to search on "islamists from libya to syria US involvement" and you'll find the same sort of articles I just did, assuming your google isn't defective of course.
Bruce Hooker - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:

You link to all sorts of Yankee think tanks, so if I get it right your references are facts but not mine? Which brings me back to suggesting it is a question of judging a whole mass of partial truths, suppositions, errors, downright lies and trying to form an opinion of what is most likely to be nearer the truth. This is especially true concerning secret operations which are, by their very nature, quite hard to know with any precision, being secret and all.
Bruce Hooker - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)
>
> [...]
>
> You were predicting something that had already happened then! Is that 'anti-clairvoyancy'?

Exactly, if this had been the case at the time, surely a finely honed expert on such matters like yourself would have been quick to point it out to me?

But you didn't.

I have to get some sleep now.
AJM - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker & Gundrun:

Ladies, Gents,

I'm afraid I don't subscribe to the idea that anything done by a country nominally allied to the US is doing it as a proxy for the US. There's a lot of knots you can tie yourself in if you do that especially when you consider all those tensions between countries which are both US allies, it implies some very puzzling behaviour.

Saudi, Qatar and Turkey all have their own geopolitical agendas, and reducing the whole regional power struggle to a case of "they are the USs ally therefore they do the USs bidding" is just such a simplified world view that frankly I wonder how anyone can subscribe to it. I can't remember who it was who said that nations don't have friends they have interests, or something like that.

Especially, Bruce, since you make such a big play of knowing the history behind everything. I this case its almost as though any other factors at play in the region are irrelevant and all that matters is where you can see the hand of the yankees in any plan (which as far as i can see seems to be anywhere and everywhere). And if the articles that adding "us involvement" throws up are the same ones you found and linked to earlier you'll have to work a lot harder to convince me.

Anyway, I'm sure from previous arguments that you both have firm world views which no amount of persuasion will shift, so I'm going to bid you both adieu and head for greener pastures.

All the best!
Postmanpat on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to AJM:

What you don't understand is that all these Arab and muslim types are incapable of independent thought or action. They need clever old whitey to pull the strings :)
PopShot on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to Postmanpat:
> (In reply to AJM)
>
> What you don't understand is that all these Arab and muslim types are incapable of independent thought or action. They need clever old whitey to pull the strings :)

That's racist.
Postmanpat on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> (In reply to Postmanpat)
> [...]
>
> That's racist.
>
No, surely not Sherlock?
ice.solo - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to AJM:

very good post. it should be noted that US aligned countries dont always square too well with their US connections. to label them as proxies is to lack looking beyond the rhetoric.

turkey is a good example, having a very complex with the US when it comes to regional affairs, no less due to the US having interests in using backing kurdish groups to operate in other countries (iran, iraq and syria). the turks are not so fond of this.
at an even deeper level is the way the kurds are not unified in this themselves (nor in any theater).
for sure saudi, qatar, azerbaijan and obviously pakistan all have their same versions.

likewise 'russia' isnt a single, unified entity - either as a player nor as seen by those within the sphere of influence. iran certainly has a constantly shifting perspective on russian involvement.

to my mind, as with many conflicts, stereotyping and simplifying-for-convenience is the biggest problem with addressing resolutions
xplorer on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to Simon4:

A serious subject, being discussed by UKC climbers. Haha

And you thought you would help, by providing no discussion what so ever?
In reply to Bruce Hooker: If you really can't see the difference between organisations like the international crisis group and global research, well then I despair. Actually I suspect you can, you just can't be arsed reading Crisis Group or UN reports.
In reply to ice.solo: From the Time article that Bruce did link what I thought was very interesting was the suggestion from the Libyan leader that they had shipped weapons including MANPADS to the rebels but those advanced systems were seized in (by?) Turkey and never made it to Syria. Libyan groups clearly wanted to get advance weapons into Syria, someone - it being in Turkey, Bruce seems to suggest it has to be the Americans or following American orders - didn't want that to happen.
Bruce Hooker - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to AJM:

It's funny the way you make posts about a subject but seem incapable of looking at the simplest of facts, such as the deployment of foreign military resources in an area. Try looking at the distribution of military equipment in the world outside the territory of each country. There is absolutely no question that the USA goes way beyond all the rest of the world put together, including Russia, China, Britain and France. Now take this a very simple step further and look at foreign military deployment in the Middle East... again the USA wins hands down, there's absolutely no doubt of this, it is a fact. Do you deny it?

Even if you are unwilling to do so now wonder why.

There's no need for theories or rhetoric the simple undeniable facts are sufficient. While on this line of thinking, and although looking at history displeases you, you could also look at foreign involvement as colonial powers, military intervention etc in the Middle East. Again the facts are simple, indisputable, you only have to spend a few minutes but apparently this is too much?
Bruce Hooker - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker) If you really can't see the difference between organisations like the international crisis group and global research, well then I despair. Actually I suspect you can, you just can't be arsed reading Crisis Group or UN reports.

I can see the difference but I can also look to see who finances your references, they publish the lists, and "he who pays the piper calls the tune" is as true today as it ever was. Again would you deny this?

Bruce Hooker - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to Doug:

I just looked at my card and it doesn't give nationality, only place of birth and on mine it's "Londres, Royaume Unie". My old carte de séjour gave my nationality as "Britannique". I'd go back and moan IIWY if you are worried as the card hasn't been filled out properly - "Anglaise" as a nationality doesn't exist. You can still vote though, in local or European elections only, even if the card isn't valid, you just need some ID, such as your passport which will have "British Citizen" in it like mine.
AJM - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

Look Bruce, your world view only makes sense if you start from the overriding premise that anything America does is bad, anywhere America has troops is an American puppet and that no country allied to America has an independent policy of its own on any subject but simply does the bidding of its master. And frankly that's such a simplified world view that I'm going to go so far as to call it child-like. I am shocked that an adult who sees themselves as sophisticated and well read can hold the kind of world view that ignores so much of the complexity of human relations and reduces it to a cowboys and Indians story writ large. There is no black and white in the world, as you so often tell us when you provide your rationale for supporting the causes you support.

So yes of course America has lots of troops around the world. But that doesn't mean that the Turks don't have their own entirely separate concerns and goals for their immediate neighbourhood, and will pursue these. Ditto the Saudis, or the Qataris. It only becomes relevant if you subscribe to the above world view that because they have an American base there, everything they do is done because of instructions from Washington, Langley, Wall St, or wherever you think the levers of power are really situated.

As for the comment about history - you're prepared to ignore the entire regions history, all the tensions built up over however many centuries between the different factions of Islam and different power blocs between the region, and reduce it to "US=bad, these countries=US allies, US=meddling", and you're telling me I'm ignoring the history! Rich, Bruce, rich...

PostmanPats comment about you not believing the natives are capable of this sort of thing without the white mans meddling entertains me, but on a more serious note it does puzzle me why you don't seem capable of assuming independent thought and action from all these different places and people's?
Bruce Hooker - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to AJM:

You have such a dose of colonial prejudice apparent in this post it's hard to know where to start! You seriously think the USA spends billions on military deployment in the Middle East for anything but defending it's own interests? If so, how come no other country does?

> if you start from the overriding premise that anything America does is bad,

I don't, without their help in WW2 Hitler might well have won, and without their intervention during the Suez crisis telling Britain, France and Israel to pack up their bags and pull back things could have been much worse, to give two fairly major examples. However since Suez it's quite hard to see many really positive actions on their part, and many very, very bad ones - the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Chile, S and Central America in general, etc. were not very pretty at all. When Obama accuses Syria of chemical weapons use thinking of what his country did to Vietnam with chemicals makes him look quite a hypocrite.

> anywhere America has troops is an American puppet and that no country allied to America has an independent policy of its own on any subject but simply does the bidding of its master.

That seems to correspond to the reality fairly well overall, yes.

> And frankly that's such a simplified world view that I'm going to go so far as to call it child-like.

Your own seems totally naïve, if you genuinely think what you say. You speak of Qatar and Saudi Arabia but you mean their despotic, unelected rulers... how long do you think they would last without Uncle Sam's gunboats and helicopters floating in the bay or in the skies? Don't you think those who would like to get rid of these sheiks living their life of opulence may have noticed just what these shiny toys can do to a town when they get the orders? Don't you think they have seen UTube videos of US helicopter crews machine-gunning civilians in the street? If so what lessons might they have drawn from this?

I don't think it's me who is naïve. "Yanks go home!" was valid in the 70s and it's still valid today, until they learn to respect other peoples rather than bomb them.
AJM - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

So with my belief that people in foreign lands can think for themselves, as opposed to your belief they are incapable of independent thought, I'm displaying colonial prejudice... I like the brazen faced unashamedness of it Bruce! Black is white and white is black eh...

Again your point is irrelevant - of course the bases are there to defend their own interests, but that doesn't stop the country hosting the base from having interests of its own. Again, amazed you don't seem to be able to see that. You think America and Turkey agree on everything? Or America and Pakistan? Or America and Japan? Or America and the UK, EU, or any of the other people they make alliances with?

Again, not sure how the last point is relevant. US supports many not terribly pleasant people. So do the Russians, the Chinese, the UK, and everyone else. But, and I grow slightly weary of saying it, that doesn't mean interests always perfectly align.

I don't know how much more simply I can say it than that. As you've said in your post above, you believe any country allied with the US or hosting its bases exists only to serve the US will and has no goals of its own. I prefer to work on the theory that sometimes interests align and sometimes they don't, and therefore that not all actions undertaken by a US ally are actually in the US interest.

Since you mentioned it actually: Suez. Britain and France both American allies, US troops almost certainly stationed in the former at the time and potentially the latter too. Israel obviously a US ally. How then do you explain a foreign policy so in contradiction to US interests that you praise the US above for standing up to it? The only logical conclusion surely is that despite being US allies they didn't align with the US on all things and so acted independently to protect their own interests?
Bruce Hooker - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to AJM:

> So with my belief that people in foreign lands can think for themselves, as opposed to your belief they are incapable of independent thought, etc.

Toby tried this spin years ago, it's been used for ages as a way of turning the world on it's head. I don't think this, which is why I supported the Vietnamese people against who? The Yanks again, and why I supported the Cuban people against who again? Or the Chileans, whose democratically elected government the Yanks destroyed etc etc etc.

Your "smart" line, copied from the same sorts of places as Toby, Postman and countless others is just rather silly attempt to twist things around. I could, if I were as puerile, say the same concerning those who support Assad, or in Iran support their own regime and overthrew the puppet Shad put in place by Britain and the USA, or those in Libya who supported Gaddafi - obviously in most conflicts there are two (or more) sides so your "argument" falls as flat as a pancake.

Just as obviously there are conflicts between allies, but in the end it's the one with the fire power and the financial clout who gets the last word, Israel or Saudi Arabia would go more or less rapidly the same way as Mubarak and Ben Ali if US support was withdrawn... You did notice what just happened in Egypt and Tunisia, didn't you?
AJM - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> Toby tried this spin years ago, it's been used for ages as a way of turning the world on it's head. I don't think this, which is why I supported the Vietnamese people against who? The Yanks again, and why I supported the Cuban people against who again? Or the Chileans, whose democratically elected government the Yanks destroyed etc etc etc.

All this shows Bruce is that you're selective in judging who can think for themselves and who can't depending on whether they are doing something you approve of or not. If they're resisting the US they are free thinking and deserving of support, if they are allied with the US then they are merely drones who carry out US policy and are incapable of acting in their own interests.

Since you've confirmed your viewpoint several times above I don't think there's much more I can add really - I can appreciate that this simplistic black and white view of the world probably gives you comfort and certainty, but I can't really be bothered with discussing issues with someone who sees the world in that sort of a way, its just a waste of breath really.
Eric9Points - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

Thanks for the reply.

I think I'd agree that it would be a good thing for the international community to set up safe havens for those who want nothing to do with the war, if that is what's at the back of your mind. But where? Inside Turkey and Jordan? Safe havens inside Syria would need policed and defending leading to "boots on the ground".

Regarding one nation doing something for the interests of another nation. I think you need pretty clear and achievable objectives if you're going to do that.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Eric9Points - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to Postmanpat:
> (In reply to Eric9Points)
>
> Good, if very depressing, article by Fisk.
>
> http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iran-will-send-4000-troops-to-aid-bashar-alassad...

Yes, I'd been puzzled by the timing of the US decision to announce they were going to arm the rebels. I assume the US new about this before Robert Fisk did and it influenced their timing.

I wonder what will happen at the G8 today? An opportunity for Putin and Obama to discuss this face to face.
Bruce Hooker - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to AJM:

> All this shows Bruce is that you're selective in judging who can think for themselves and who can't depending on whether they are doing something you approve of or not. If they're resisting the US they are free thinking and deserving of support, if they are allied with the US then they are merely drones who carry out US policy and are incapable of acting in their own interests.

Toby usually calls this a "strawman" argument, it's internet fashion apparently, as I have never said all people who swallow Western propaganda are simply fools.. Doubtless some are, as there will be fools who support the same causes as I do, you can call me a fool too, be my guest, but it isn't a particularly good method of arguing. Since humans have fought each other the physical violence has been supplemented by intellectual methods, tricks and manipulation - in ancient Greece, Rome, Machiavelli, and until modern times. We all know this, you do too, and of all the areas of the world where it is a fine art the Middle East is one of the most complicated. This goes back to the creation of Islam, to the tribal squabbles that led to the invention of the religion, itself being like all religions a major part in the power struggles.

Modern jihadists know their history more than we do, their ancestors have been killing, dying, scheming and conniving for more centuries than Europe probably, so why aren't you willing to envisage that they are still doing it today? Just as the West divides to rule and plays one section against another they do the same. Over the past few decades, since the USA won the Cold War and had no rival at it's own level one of the best ways of settling a local dispute has been to manoeuvre the only super-power, with their need to "do something" all the time, into supporting the struggle of people presented as victims... Blair made it into a slogan.

> this simplistic black and white view of the world probably gives you comfort and certainty..

Again a non-argument as I can say the same to you, you appear to have a very simplistic view, basically supporting Western propaganda... in as much as you express your view as mostly your contribution is a negative critical one. Meanwhile the death toll in Syria is around 100000 and as "your side" wants to arm the Sunni extremists it's likely to go higher. And after Syria, what will it be? Iran? and then? How many have to die before you realise that all this is not actually helping the people of the Middle East?

AJM - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

Your middle paragraph seems now to suggest that the USA is the one being manipulated by its allies. I do wish you would decide - either they are simply following orders (your earlier argument) or they have their own agendas (my earlier argument, which you now seem more keen on) and are using Machiavellian cunning in order to get the rest of the world to take sides. I'd love to believe you've had a sudden conversion to the fact that life is actually quite complex and that you can't use this earlier "anything a US ally does is because its been told to" style of argument anywhere in the real world. However, I'm sure you have a logic by which you can move from one position to a completely opposing one without it actually being a change of viewpoint.

Regarding your last paragraph, with all due respect (the traditional way to start this sort of conversation), you have no f*cking clue what my side or my view is. I don't believe there are simple solutions, so whilst you may want to invent someone to argue against who can put up simple ideas for you to charge against it won't be me I'm afraid.

I'd prefer it if the carnage could be stopped before more people die and the whole of the Middle East gets drawn in either as an innocent bystander or in order to use one side or the other as a proxy, but I'm also not convinced that any small scale gestures by Obama are likely to actually change the equation very much - I think there was a time when he could have made a small/medium gesture that would have made a difference but I think he missed that timeframe, so now (in part because of what happened whilst he prevaricated) he has a whole host of unpalatable options available, ranging from nothing through dithering to small scale help and ending with actually deciding he wants the uprising to win and committing serious effort to making it happen. Unfortunately none of those options, even doing nothing, will stop the slaughter. I figure you'd be happiest if he did nothing because it means Assad is more likely to win outright, but that doesn't help much if you aren't on Assads side.
Bruce Hooker - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to AJM:

> Your middle paragraph seems now to suggest that the USA is the one being manipulated by its allies.

That's right, of course that is part of it, like in Kosovo. You say it's not black and white, which is obviously true, then appear to want it to be simply either one thing or another. In reality it is all these things, and can be different things at different times in the same place, and so on.

This is the classic terrorist method. I have already given the well know example of the French Resistance deciding to murder a German officer in the Paris metro, knowing that the German reaction would be mass execution of civilian hostages - something they had already done in WW1 in parts of N France they had occupied. The resulting public reaction to this and further assassinations did what the Resistance wanted, broke the French people out of their passivity and woke them up to the reality of occupation. The resulting increase in the number of German troops affected to occupying the country made a contribution to the war effort.

The same method was used by the IRA, it worked quite well on Bloody Sunday when the presence, or suspected presence, of armed men in a crowd prompted the British Army to open fire killing several unarmed civilians and giving the Republicans a significant political victory.

Similar methods were used in Kosovo, with the resulting NATO (ie. US) military intervention enabling a militarily weak independence movement to win the war once the Serbian Army had been crushed by bombing. Then coming to Libya and Syria, the situation degenerated in part due to people being killed by sniper fire... but who can tell who the snipers were? Were they governments troops as many would have us believe, in which case what would a government under menace of military intervention have to gain by shooting children? It's clear that when a police station was burnt and those inside killed this would likely provoke a violent reaction by their comrades, as it had in Kosovo, the spiral of violence, as in France and Ireland and elsewhere is a classic method in unequal warfare. None of this is outlandish, most is well known... life and death are subject to manipulation, always have been always will be.

As for what I would prefer, I would prefer the rich and powerful to help the poor and weak and for rich countries like Britain, France, the USA to respect others and help them achieve stability and prosperity instead of continually interfering in them for the sake of their selfish national interests. Labour promised this, "moral foreign policy" years ago, as did Hollande and IIRC Obama too, and yet the same three (Cameron taking over the bloody flag) are still biggest war-mongers on the planet.
Rob Exile Ward on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: 'As for what I would prefer, I would prefer the rich and powerful to help the poor and weak and for rich countries like Britain, France, the USA to respect others and help them achieve stability and prosperity'

You wouldn't notice, believe or remember it if/when it happens. For example, fighting to free small counties that have been invaded by massively larger countries, ruled by dictators, without conferring any significant economic benefit...
Bruce Hooker - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:

A long article about foreign jihadists who have been recruited in Tunisia and elsewhere, their Mums have gone to Syria to look for them.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-22941966

In reply to Bruce Hooker:


Why do you reckon the Syrian government is inviting European neo-fascists? Does seem much upside in it for them - but here's Nick Griffin shaking hands with the Syrian prime minister: http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/16083/
Bruce Hooker - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:

You picked up on the same red-herring as French commentators who pedal much the same political line did... well done! There was a delegation of Euro extreme right politicians there at the time, it's true but I think there are more relevant points made in this report.

I don't know if you read the Fisk article above and although I don't agree with all he says (in general as well as in the article) there were quite a few bits of info there that some posting on this thread could consider. One quote:

"For the first time, all of America’s ‘friends’ in the region are Sunni Muslims and all of its enemies are Shiites. Breaking all President Barack Obama’s rules of disengagement, the US is now fully engaged on the side of armed groups which include the most extreme Sunni Islamist movements in the Middle East."

and:

"America’s alliance now includes the wealthiest states of the Arab Gulf, the vast Sunni territories between Egypt and Morocco, as well as Turkey and the fragile British-created monarchy in Jordan. King Abdullah of Jordan – flooded, like so many neighbouring nations, by hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees – may also now find himself at the fulcrum of the Syrian battle. Up to 3,000 American ‘advisers’ are now believed to be in Jordan, and the creation of a southern Syria ‘no-fly zone’ – opposed by Syrian-controlled anti-aircraft batteries – will turn a crisis into a ‘hot’ war. So much for America’s ‘friends’."

Gudrun - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to AJM:
> I'm afraid I don't subscribe to the idea that anything done by a country nominally allied to the US is doing it as a proxy for the US.
I never said it did.
> Saudi, Qatar and Turkey all have their own geopolitical agendas, and reducing the whole regional power struggle to a case of "they are the USs ally therefore they do the USs bidding" is just such a simplified world view that frankly I wonder how anyone can subscribe to it.
Obviously it's a reciprocal agreement you scratch my back etc,all countries have their own interests at heart obviously but ultimately if they don't do what the US business party want then they will end up like Libya,Syria and the 50 odd others in the last 60 years.

It's not child-like it's fact-like.

The countries who dominate particular regions are in turn dominated and a part of the US empire,allowed to do things but only if they correspond with American interests and only with American consent.The Mafia don who runs the country but every other boss answers and obeys him,or else.except they run the world bar a few brave places of resistance
Do you actually believe that any country from NATO,an Arab dictatorship or East Asian for example would defy orders from Washington without being put like Iraq,Libya,Syria,Iran,N.Korea,Venezuela,Ecuador,Honduras,Cooba etc on their "to do" list?
Bush was planning Syria back in 2006 and earlier with his Saudi pals.

Walid Jumblatt leader of the Druze in Lebanon met with Vice-President Dick Cheney in Washington in 2007 to discuss undermining Assad.

He and his colleagues advised Cheney that, if the United States does try to move against Syria, members of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood would be “the ones to talk to,” Jumblatt said.

“We told Cheney that the basic link between Iran and Lebanon is Syria - and to weaken Iran you need to open the door to effective Syrian opposition.”
Walid Jumblatt.

And best wishes to you to.
Gudrun - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> Why do you reckon the Syrian government is inviting European neo-fascists

Don't be silly!
The Syrian Government have left the door open for all foreign political parties who object to attacking them and not just fascists.

what do you think of Boris the balloon?
He's certainly shot way up in my estimation!
Well,just above Nick Griffin that is.
ice.solo - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:


"For the first time, all of America’s ‘friends’ in the region are Sunni Muslims and all of its enemies are Shiites. Breaking all President Barack Obama’s rules of disengagement, the US is now fully engaged on the side of armed groups which include the most extreme Sunni Islamist movements in the Middle East."

absolute garbage. for 15 years, the last 10 especially, azerbaijan has been one of the US's primary allies and staging posts for the region.

so has georgia, which has backed the US more than any other non-nato group in anything its done for the last 12 years.

to call 'the region' thats involved only those that traditionally include the kissinger-esque standards is a geopolitical myopia thats useless because ignores the way the current US regional policy functions. that quote is pop media spin and nothing more.
ice.solo - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

oh and lets not forget bahrain in that equation. majority shia and home to the us navy 5th fleet.

the second quote too is inaccurate to the point of rendering it useless; all of the regions major economies and richest countries?

except iran of course. oh and azerbaijan again which outflanks almost all countries in the kissenger version of 'the region'.

fisk needs some serious updating of its geopolitical desk if its going to be much use for quotes on regional stability. unless 1970s-era US foreign policy is your thing.
Bruce Hooker - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

I don't see what your point is here, Fisk was probably referring to the Middle East when he said "region". Azerbaijan is essentially Sunnite but the old Soviet influence is still present and it certainly isn't Arab, it and Georgia are Caucasian. How is this important? Fisk's point is that the USA is aligning itself on the Sunni side of the Shia/Sunni conflict.

> oh and lets not forget bahrain in that equation. majority shia and home to the us navy 5th fleet.

Majority Shia but ruled by a Sunni dictatorship which was quite happy to bring in troops from Saudi Arabia, the ultimate Sunni dictatorship, to fire on their own people a little while ago. None of which inspired much in the way of shock/horror in the Western Obamaite camp... When is oppression not oppression? When the bastard is our bastard.
ice.solo - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

my point is that, in those two quotes, fisk is outrightly wrong or lying. the US is simply not aligning itself with the sunni anything as the conspiracy likes to go. as far as the islamic world goes, with shias making up a very asymmetrical minority, the US is disproportionate in its shia alliances. the shia demograph may not be big, but it makes up a very significant proportion of the USs presence, significantly larger than its population in ratio. other than iran, every other major shia community is US aligned.

the USs activities that affect the middle east are simply not some sunni-partnered plot. depending on definition the region may not include the caucusus, but US deployments that bomb and enter the middles east do.
the following quote seems to include morocco. and whats arab got to do with it when at the heart of the matter is iran, oman and turkey.

azerbaijan is not sunni - its shia. look it up.
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

> You picked up on the same red-herring as French commentators who pedal much the same political line did

It just struck me as very bad politics - if the only MEPs you can get to visit are Griffin and de Winter, far better to have none at all if you want to get more support for your position in the west. I'm sure they could have got some anti-war left MEPs or MPs to go had they searched around a bit, maybe even some Conservative/Christian Dem types - why on earth invite the far-right grouping? Shooting themselves in the foot rather.
In reply to Gudrun:

> Do you actually believe that any country from NATO,an Arab dictatorship or East Asian for example would defy orders from Washington without being put like Iraq,Libya,Syria,Iran,N.Korea,Venezuela,Ecuador,Honduras,Cooba etc on their "to do" list?

You mean like France and the other NATO members that vocally refused to back the US in the invasion of Iraq?
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> Azerbaijan is essentially Sunnite

Does "essentially" mean "not at all" in this case?
Bruce Hooker - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:

Were they invited or did they ask to go? There were similar delegations, all sorts, to Libya during the civil war there. I think for people at war in the Middle East the difference between right, extreme right and populist may not seem critical.
Bruce Hooker - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

> azerbaijan is not sunni - its shia. look it up.

My mistake, I thought they were Sunni like their Turkish allies. I have a friend there who I see fairly often and he always said they were fairly laid back about Islam but very pro-Turkish, so I assumed they were Sunni. Being Shia can only be a good thing for the area anyway.
Bruce Hooker - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Gudrun)
>
> [...]
>
> You mean like France and the other NATO members that vocally refused to back the US in the invasion of Iraq?

France, Germany and Russia were the main opponents, and France paid fairly heavily economically for a short while, but as people have short memories it didn't last. Allies often disagree about things and neither of these three are minor countries so the USA would have measured it's reaction but in the case of weaker governments in real need of support the reactions are swifter - ask Ben Ali or Mubarak, how long did they stay in power once they had lost US backing? Egypt had been one of the biggest receiver of US aid for years but the US decided to pull the plug the result was rapid.
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Rob Exile Ward on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: Let me get this right - the US should have continued to provide aid to Mubarak even though he was deposed as part of a popular and largely peaceful uprising, and replaced with a democratically elected leader?

How would that have worked then?
Bruce Hooker - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

It wasn't that peaceful, at first the army fired on the demonstrations and quite a few were killed, hundreds, getting on for a thousand - hence his court appearances at the moment. He had been supported massively with US aid, over a $Billion per annum previously but after the initial killing the army let the change take place.

It was similar in Tunisia, a previously backed government was dropped when the opposition built up too much. It caught a couple of French ministers out, one of whom was on holiday at the invitation of local bigwigs in each country. They so little expected what was happening that at first one of them offered French help with police training to help control the demonstrators!
Bruce Hooker - on 20 Jun 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:

Just another link to a fairly well argued article as to why the accusations of use of chemical weapons by the Syrian army are dubious:

http://www.globalresearch.ca/fake-wmd-intelligence-and-orwellian-double-speak-washington-is-insane/5...

Some may not like the site but that doesn't change the validity of the argumentation.
off-duty - on 20 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> (In reply to Eric9Points)
>
> Just another link to a fairly well argued article as to why the accusations of use of chemical weapons by the Syrian army are dubious:
>
> http://www.globalresearch.ca/fake-wmd-intelligence-and-orwellian-double-speak-washington-is-insane/5...
>
> Some may not like the site but that doesn't change the validity of the argumentation.

The argument (beneath all the vitriol and foaming) appears to consist of "because the Americans "lied" about WMD nothing they ever say can ever be trusted again"
Would that be an accurate summary? (Though I'm sure my use of quotation marks around "lied" can be disputed)

ice.solo - on 20 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:


how right you are. the basic point - the US doesnt have the evidence it needs for the use of chemical weapons by Assads forces to warrant military intervention - is clear and agreed by most, including many in the US.

the rest of the article rates somewhere between toilet paper and a university activists rant-azine.

theres all sorts of intelligent argument by smart people as to why the US (not to mention the EU, russia and regional powerrs) shouldnt get involved. but this article isnt that.
ice.solo - on 20 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:

i think you need quotation marks around 'americans', as plenty of others were happy to join in too.
Bruce Hooker - on 20 Jun 2013
In reply to off-duty:

No, I was thinking more of the argument that given Obama had repeated that using chemicals was a "red line" for military intervention and given that what happened in Libya proved that this wasn't just a bluff then it would be quite irrational for the Syrian government to use chemical weapons, especially at a time when they were winning the ground battle. To do so would have been playing into the hands of their enemies who were itching to get in there.
Rob Exile Ward on 20 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: 'it would be quite irrational for the Syrian government to use chemical weapons'

So the Syrian government is a model of transparent governance and rationality then? Without any scores to settle, or populace to frighten into submission?
Bruce Hooker - on 20 Jun 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:
> (In reply to Bruce Hooker)

> So the Syrian government is a model of transparent governance and rationality then? Without any scores to settle, or populace to frighten into submission?

That's not very rational either. I think they are at least as rational as those who eat bits of dead people, shoot kids in the face for making a mild joke with "the name of the prophet" in it or blow up crowds in markets.
Rob Exile Ward on 20 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: That's a complete non sequitor! No, many of the opposition may be equally vicious weird b*stards, but that doesn't preclude the government from being irrational or vicious as well. (And they do after all have form - Dad wasn't a particularly rational or nice guy, was he?)
Bruce Hooker - on 20 Jun 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

"Dad" was also challenged by an armed uprising by the Muslim Brotherhood, what's happening now has happened before. I'm quite willing to admit that the Assads and most of the governments in the world are less than perfect but I don't think it helps much to say they are irrational. Assad is not alone, he has a fairly wide level of support from not only Alawites but Druzes, Christians of various sorts and also Sunni Muslims who I don't think can be dismissed as irrational either. We may not agree with them but just dissing them doesn't get us very far.
Gudrun - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:
Some Qatari nutjob dictator has today said "providing arms may be the only means of achieving peace".

No,keeping your arms away from Syria is the only way of achieving peace for Syrians.
That idiot Kerry-insisted that the decision to provide military support to the rebels was "not to seek a military solution" but to give the rebels more power in negotiating an end to the conflict.
Like when did they *ever* want to negotiate? Liar!

"he said Mr Assad had responded to the calls for a conference by bringing in Iranian and Hezbollah fighters to confront the rebels."
Because you and your pals created this whole mess then brought in foreign Al Qaeda fighters to use chemical weapons and butcher people.
"That is a very, very dangerous development,'' he said. "Hezbollah is a proxy for Iran... Hezbollah in addition to that is a terrorist organisation."

Not in the EU they're not Mr hillbilly although if it were up to your UK lapdogs it would be.
neilh - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:
Interesting editorial in the Economist about this subject. Basically saying we should get off our backsides and sort it out. Otherwise we will pay the price for Iranian backing of Assad.If Assad stays in power then Iran will start flexing its rising power in that region, especially when its only a year ( possibly less) or so off getting nuclear weapons.

Made me change my mind, and now reckon we should arm the rebels.
Eric9Points - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to neilh:

Well, for Iran of course the stakes are very high.

However what's the worst that can happen to the UK if the war does go Assad's way?

Further if the war went the other way is it more or less likely that Iran would develop nuclear weapons?

Also, what is in the mind of the new Iranian President. His statements before he came to power were concilliatory regards relations with the West. I think the way forward in the short term at least is honest dialogue with Iran. I believe they want to improve relations with the West and would be prepared to do a deal on Syria and nuclear weapons if the west were accommodating to their wishes.
Gudrun - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to neilh:
> (In reply to Eric9Points)
> Interesting editorial in the Economist about this subject. Basically saying we should get off our backsides and sort it out. Otherwise we will pay the price for Iranian backing of Assad.If Assad stays in power then Iran will start flexing its rising power in that region, especially when its only a year ( possibly less) or so off getting nuclear weapons.
>
> Made me change my mind, and now reckon we should arm the rebels.

Even though this story is complete fantasy lets indulge in it for a bit,what if Iran did flex its muscles?
what do you think that means?
Do you think they would use a nuclear weapon and risk being blown off the face of the earth or do you think they(if they were)would develope one as a deterrent to protect them from the USA who want to remove the Iranian leader that freed them from American/British dictatorship?
Is it right that everyone bows down to the American empire and it's component parts?
Is complete American hegemony the way forward?
do you know what they do in other countries and who they are friends with?
Gudrun - on 24 Jun 2013
In reply to Gudrun:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUtLYAZkZpg

This country and you English Tories are responsible just like Blair was in Iraq for your leader doing what Barack Obomba tells him.
We are giving money and aid that goes directly to Islamic fundamentalists and foreign AQ terrorists who are butchering people and destroying Syria right now.
That is what *we* are doing to a foreign country..again!
In our name.
Please register a strong protest with your local MP as well as No10 if you care about the people of Syria and do not want their blood on your hands.
Rob Exile Ward on 24 Jun 2013
In reply to Gudrun: 'Barack Obomba' Is that just a mistype, or deliberately racist? The man has a name, it's not that hard to spell.
Bruce Hooker - on 24 Jun 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

Obomba

A bit slow tonight?
Gudrun - on 24 Jun 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:


Go on then how is it racist? and why would i who have been to more anti-racist meetings and demos than you've had hot dinners be a racist?
Bruce Hooker - on 24 Jun 2013
In reply to Gudrun:

> This country and you English Tories are responsible just like Blair was in Iraq...

With all due respect but saying "English" tories but not "Scottish" Labour (Blair/Brown etc.) seems a bit off! I hope you aren't turning to the dark side :-)
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Gudrun - on 24 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
When refering to "English Tories" i was talking about the present,if i recall correctly to our shame and disgrace the STUC voted in favour of the Iraq war but i think they were duped by all the overwhelming lies at the time.Perhaps in the same way the current Anglo/American lies about the Syrian government using chemical weapons and all the rest are designed to fool everyone.

> I hope you aren't turning to the dark side :-)

Red until dead!
In reply to Gudrun:
> Perhaps in the same way the current Anglo/American lies about the Syrian government using chemical weapons and all the rest are designed to fool everyone.

If they weren't lies, would it make any difference to you though? Why shouldn't the Syrian government be able to use chemical weapons if it wants? It's a sovereign nation after all. It's dropping a serious tonnage of conventional bombs each day, the chemical weapon use is really just a footnote in comparison - notable for its novelty but not much else.
Bruce Hooker - on 25 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:

> Why shouldn't the Syrian government be able to use chemical weapons if it wants?

What an odd thing to say! An indirect way of reinforcing Western propaganda or a simple provocation? As for "tonnage of bombs", do you think the Syrian government has overtaken the NATO tonnage on Libya yet?
Rob Exile Ward on 25 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: Obviously your irony filter is turned off.

'do you think the Syrian government has overtaken the NATO tonnage on Libya yet? '

WTF has that got to do with anything? And anyway, probably, yes.
In reply to Bruce Hooker:
> do you think the Syrian government has overtaken the NATO tonnage on Libya yet?

Yes, certainly, and of course that's not even taking into account the numerous tonnes of HE fired by government artillery. You need to have some comprehension of the types of weapon systems being used in the different theatres to see why, but the Syrian military has totally different systems and therefore fighting in a completely different way.

But my point was that when the Syrian government shell and rockets rebel-held cities, towns and suburbs and the rebels mortar in return, maybe 100 killed, and probably mainly combatants at that, by limited chemical weapon use is really just a footnote.

There is lots of before and after satellite imagery around that shows the extent of damage - mainly from artillery - in different areas of Syria.
neilh - on 25 Jun 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:
This was also commented on in the Economist. The guy is still a hardliner. Lets be serious about it.Anybody with that powerbase and longevity in Iranian politics is a hardliner.

Gudrun - on 25 Jun 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Gudrun)
> If they weren't lies, would it make any difference to you though? Why shouldn't the Syrian government be able to use chemical weapons if it wants? It's a sovereign nation after all. It's dropping a serious tonnage of conventional bombs each day, the chemical weapon use is really just a footnote in comparison - notable for its novelty but not much else.

3/10 and 2 of those for your cunning only.

Your Obomba didn't "think notable for its novelty but not much else."
,neither did that :- Hague or Cameron,in fact it was used as *thee* excuse to start overtly doing regime change properly,plan B.How can you fail to see this? You don't,what you are doing is attempting to whitewash over the past.For this you are gona need a lot of paint there Toby as well as millions of pairs of blinkers and mindbleach,good luck with that one!although to be fair that is what the Western Media outlets,army of grasping neos waiting to write a raft of revisionist propaganda books full of lies backed by the super-rich and their Corporations have been doing for yonks.
ice.solo - on 26 Jun 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

jeezuz rob, dont mire the pop-argument by questioning the cliches. if the good guys dont wear white and the bad guys black how are we meant to blame anybody and gratify our agendas?

if more was made of the libyans supporting the same side as the yanks in syria what does that do to our pop culture stereotypes of the last 5 years of wars? we need to keep things nice and dumbed down so the students activists and armchair colonels can feel they have picked the right sides to match their off-the-rack personalities and music collections.

the anomalies and complexities spoil a good agenda-thrashing. its best just to learn to love the cliches so we can all go back to feeling happy with our justifications for the suffering.
nothing hurts more than changing ones mind after seeing the situation to not be as convenient as one wanted it to be. you wouldnt want that now, would you?
Bruce Hooker - on 26 Jun 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

> if more was made of the Libyans supporting the same side as the yanks in Syria what does that do to our pop culture stereotypes of the last 5 years of wars?

So "the Libyans" support the same side as the Yanks?

Sounds very much like a stereotype to me.... Who are "the Libyans" for you? Even a Daily Mail reader knows there are several varieties.
ice.solo - on 26 Jun 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker:

'the libyans' for me are the diverse bunch who call libya 'theirs', not dissimilar to the diverse bunch whooping it up in syria - thats the f*cking point!

as far as is being reported in the regular press (i dont really follow the details of libya) libyans across the board are involved, ranging from former rebels who had foreign backing, possibly the govt itself selling off gaddafis stockpiles (and at least allowing the shipments to cross their borders) and entrepreneur arms dealers who could be from anywhere.

http://www.npr.org/2013/06/24/195272160/syrian-rebels-inherit-arms-from-gaddafis-former-forces

http://rt.com/news/libya-syria-weapons-rebels-117/

by the looks of it its being run by 'the libyans' that asked for/accepted international support 2 years back to overthrow a leader they didnt want and install a system they did.

so i dunno bruce, who are 'the libyans' to you? and while youre at it, tell us all who 'the syrians' are as well.
Bruce Hooker - on 27 Jun 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

But all the Libyans weren't on the same side during the NATO aggression, that's why despite all the arms, bombs, cruise missiles it took so long to get Gadhafi, and so long to "mop" up those who kept on fighting. In other words you are simplifying things incredibly in a post decrying simplifications.

It should be no surprise to anyone that those Libyans who were the ground troops for the NATO (ie. US with a little help from their poodles) are now fighting the same battle in Syria. They are fighting on the same side as the yanks at present but haven't always done so and probably won't always in the future. They are as much mercenaries as jihadists, and have been intricately involved with the US administration ever since the 80s when the whole jihadist anti-Soviet force was started. This last bit of hot cold war was successful in weakening the USSR, but then Bin Laden and others looked for new targets... The Twin Towers were collateral damage compared to the destruction of the Soviet block, and this was openly admitted.

There is a similar episode being played out in France at present about the Karachi bombing of a bus load of French engineers. The accusation is that this was done by the Pakistanis themselves, secret service or similar, to pressure the French government who no longer wanted to continue paying bribes in connection with arms sales. People change very quickly from being friends to enemies and the killings are often to pressure one's "friends".

Gadhafi "changed" several times, although in reality he was never accepted "into the fold", this was, as the events showed, just to take him off his guard, and also probably to take a little advantage of Libyan information and help in fighting the "war on terror", before using the very same "terrorists" to bring down the "ally". It's all a bit like Alice in Wonder Land, things are what they aren't and vice versa all at the same time.

Bruce Hooker - on 27 Jun 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

PS. The same "Libyan" arms, the "" because they came from elsewhere first, have been blamed in the French press for the hotting up of the war in the Sahara, and used to justify the present French army involvement there. The whole of Saharan Africa and further South has been destabilised by the arrival of arms stocks from Libya, either from Libyan army dumps seized by the ex-rebels, turned armed militias, then sold to whoever, of from the stocks supplied to these same rebels during the civil war, both by the French and through Egypt by various routes.

Again, collateral damage compared to destroying the power of a "trouble maker" like Gadhafi. A few Africans dead doesn't really count for much when defending the free world (ie. oil company profits) is at stake.
MargieB - on 28 Jun 2013
In reply to Eric9Points: The standoff in Syria is viewed in the West, not as a Sunni/Shia conflict, but as a difference of opinion about the way to resolve the conflict and bring peace. If we believed Assad could militarily win outright and bring peace then I think the West would allow this situation to occur. But the West has made a judgement early on, based on other Countries' civil war in the middle east, that this is not going to bring a solution. Russia believes it is the ultimate solution. Hence the difference of opinion, and the standoff. We're bankning on the Russian's seeing this point of view
Bruce Hooker - on 28 Jun 2013
MargieB - on 02 Jul 2013
In reply to Bruce Hooker: There is no reason why, should there be an attempt for a negotiated settlement in Geneva, that the United Nations reinforce this with a UN resolution .This would offset the fact that the SNC could attempt to stall negotiations and drag us into armed intervention because they feel they could win. It would reinforce Russia's sincerity in this area and this time they could abstain or vote in favour of a UN resolution. As a voter I feel, the way it is going, America's decision to provide arms is a signal open to distortion by the SNC, signalling a bad change into a dualistic conflict,: whereas we need to reinforce the original UN position for cease fire and negotiated settlement, and realign ourselves with this motivation. This would alone would convince me of the sincerity of the West's position.

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