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Syria At War

We go back to Syria, where the fighting is intense, the warnings are loud, and the future is wildly unclear.

In this Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 photo, rebel fighters watch over enemy positions as they wait for Syrian army troops to enter a street during clashes in the Karmal Jabl battlefield in Aleppo, Syria. (AP)

In this Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 photo, rebel fighters watch over enemy positions as they wait for Syrian army troops to enter a street during clashes in the Karmal Jabl battlefield in Aleppo, Syria. (AP)

Civil war in Syria has become a long nightmare now.  40,000 dead.  Freezing refugees looking at another winter.  NPR’s Deborah Amos has brought it powerfully home to Americans.  She’s with us today.  But there is more to come in Syria.  So explosive and unresolved.

Sarin gas precursors – chemical weapons – reportedly already mixed into bombs.  Al Qaeda in the middle of the rebellion.  Assad’s Alawites, maybe ready to split the country.  A region already on edge, and a Syrian tipping point.

This hour, On Point:  NPR’s Deborah Amos and more, on the urgent challenge of Syria.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Deborah Amos, covers the Middle East for NPR News.

Andrew Tabler, senior fellow, Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Author of In the Lion’s Den: An Eyewitness Account of Washington’s Battle With Assad’s Syria.

From Tom’s Reading List

Christian Science Monitor “But Mr. Assad also might be sending a different signal to the US and the international community, analysts say. By ordering “activity” at chemical weapons sites, Assad could be reminding the international powers demanding his departure that his fall would likely be followed by chaos – in which radical Islamists could get their hands on Syria’s weapons of mass destruction.”

Russia Today “American media are reporting extensively that the Syrian president is getting ready to use chemical weapons on his own people, raising concerns that Washington could be planning a strike on Damascus with the chemical threat as a pretext.”

CNN “With the strength of Bashar al-Assad’s forces diminishing in Syria’s civil war, global fears are mounting that Syria might unleash chemical weapons to quash the country’s uprising. The government insists it would never use chemical weapons on its own people. But world leaders say Syria’s desperation could lead to even more tragedy in the war-torn country.”

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  • Potter

    Deborah Amos is amazing!

  • AC

    what is it the rebels ultimately want? i don’t feel confident about this issue at all….

    • Ray in VT

      Well, to get rid of Assad, but to replace it with what is the question.  There seem to be a number of different factions fighting to oust the current government, but what they see coming next is likely to be very different.  There are likely some who want some sort of basically secular state, as exists in neighboring Turkey, but there are also reports of Islamist and Jihadist groups as well, who are likely to want some sort of religious state.  Right now they have a common enemy, but some would seem highly likely to not be able to get along once that foe is removed from the picture.

      • anamaria23

        Thank you for  an enlightening comment and for keeping on topic so that  a reasonable discussion can open up.

      • Gregg Smith

        Hopefully we already have an idea who the bad guys are and who to support. Hopefully, we’ve had operatives on the ground for years. Hopefully we have a robust propaganda campaign to win hearts and minds. Hopefully we have a hand in steering events.

        • DrewInGeorgia

          Hopefully…

          Hopefully we have accurate Intelligence.
          Hopefully our spies are smarter than theirs.
          Hopefully we’ve brainwashed their masses into complacence and complicity.
          Hopefully we remain the Hegemonic Top Dog.

          Hopefully these methods have greater success than they have in the past. Optimism isn’t a substitute for common sense.

          • Gregg Smith

            There are three kinds of people, those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what the hell just happened. As a nation which kind are we?

          • DrewInGeorgia

            All three?

            We make things happen,
            We watch the dominoes fall,
            and then We wonder what the hell just happened.

          • Gregg Smith

            You get an “A” for cute.

          • DrewInGeorgia

            Thanks, will the credit be transferable upon completion of the course?

      • AC

        thanks. i at least feel confident enough to say i support the desire to become a SECULAR state – i don’t trust any religions to do a good job

        • anon

          Well, my impression is that most Syrians don’t want a secular government.

      • anon

        Why should it be up top us to decide what kind of government Syrians have? Is that the noble democracy that we claim to want? (That’s about the SHOULD we…)

        And honestly, as someone who lives in the Middle East, I think you’re kidding yourselves if you think that the US CAN control the situation, as if the Syrian people themselves don’t exist and have no say. The US is becoming more an more irrelevant in the Middle East.

        • Ray in VT

          It is certainly in our interests to support a regime that is friendly towards us and our allies, and that would probably necessitate it being a more secular minded regime, but our long term track record on trying to pick governments for other nations isn’t very good when one considers how some of them have behaved.  Take the Shah for instance.  Ultimately the Syrians will have to sort this out for themselves, and I think that we can play a constructive role in that process, but they may end up choosing a route that we don’t like.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

      Distabilization of the M.E. is the neocon goal of the PNAC, Project for the New American Century.  Americans can only continue to drive huge SUVs and live in junkfood filled McMansions as long as US dollar hegemony continues. 
      Its not about the oil… its about the dollar being backed by oil .

      • AC

        many, many people world wide have confidence in the dollar above any other monetary system. criminals included.
        what sort of system do you propose should take it’s place? what happens to all those people who trusted in us dollars after a new system is in place?

    • anon

      The rebels want to get out from under Assad regime, and all of the Syrians I know want an Islamic government. (And none of them are al-Qaeda terrorists; they’re ordinary people.)

  • Ed75

    That the Christians are leaving the Middle East in large numbers is not a good sign.

  • Shag_Wevera

    I’d like to see a program devoted to the war powers act, and congressional declarations of war.  We’ve reached the point where military action can be engaged easily, without anyone being completely responsible.  I want yes or no votes from congressmen over these engagements and the associated accountability.  Without it, you get the second war in Iraq.  An appointed official talks about mushroom clouds and we are at war.

    • Gregg Smith

      I agree, certainly Libya is the best example unlike Iraq where war was declared.

      • Ray in VT

        We did not declare war on Iraq.  There has not been an official declaration of war since World War II.

        • Gregg Smith
        • Flytrap

           The resolution authorized President Bush to use the Armed Forces of the United States “as he determines to be necessary and appropriate” in order to “defend the national security
          of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
          enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions
          regarding Iraq.”

          Might not be war, but it sure is close.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_Resolution

          • Gregg Smith

            The Constitution makes sets forth no rules for declaring war. There is no required wording or anything of the sort. Congress is empowered to declare war and the President isn’t. So, I agree with you, Congress declared war.

          • Ray in VT

            That is correct.  The Constitution does not set out any specific wording, however, a formal declaration of war has been made in some 5 cases, and if you want to say that war was declared, then there should be a formal declaration of war as far as I’m concerned.  There have been many instances where there was only a Congressional authorization, which I think is probably largely legally the same, but it is certainly far less symbolic, and I think that we would certainly wage less “war” if there was some sort of formal process and we had to stand up and declare it.

            There have also been some several dozen times when the President used his power as Commander in Chief to engage militarily without Congressional authorization, including Libya, Panama, Grenada, and others going back over a century. 

          • Gregg Smith

            When the President goes to war without Congressional approval he is acting outside the confines of the Constitution, that is very clear.

            If authorization comes from Congress then the Constitution is not violated. Maybe it’s semantics but words like “formal” and “official” are ambiguous and irrelevant. The Constitution is not. If your argument it that it’s better symbolism then that’s ambiguous too. 

          • Ray in VT

            Then define “going to war”.  There have been many times throughout our history when we have acted against nations without getting Congressional approval.  Would you argue that all of those actions are unconstitutional?  Here is the Bush administration’s justification for acting against terrorists and the nations harboring them, and it is argues that such actions are within the President’s powers and does not need Congressional authorization:

            http://www.justice.gov/olc/warpowers925.htm

            My argument that there is a substantial difference between the times that Congress has said that a state of war exists between the United States and another nation.  Legally the distinction may or may not be that great, but I think that to argue that, for instance, American intervention in Russia in 1918 was the same as Congress jointly declaring “Declaring that a state of war exists between the Imperial Government of
            Japan and the Government and the people of the United States” is not quite correct.

          • Gregg Smith

            I would define it like this: “The President is authorized to use the Armed
            Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and
            appropriate”

            As I said, there is no doubt it is unconstitutional wage war without Congressional approval.

            Bush had that in the linked memorandum. Once we start getting into retaliation for 9/11 or Pearl Harbor or similar events it gets murkier.

          • Ray in VT

            You gave a definition for for a declaration of war, which I think is pretty weak.  If you read the War Powers Act Congress differentiates between a declaration of war and ”
            specific statutory authorization” for engaging in hostilities.

            You did not define, though, what would constitute war?  Is every boot on the ground or missile war?  If so, then every act would require a declaration or authorization, but that has not been the case historically.

          • Ray in VT

            Agreed, it was Congressional authorization, and it was close, but it still wasn’t a declaration of war.

          • Gregg Smith

            Congressional authorization IS a declaration of war. The Constitution empowers (requires is not the right word) Congress to declare war and they did. There is no such thing as an “official” declaration of war.

          • Ray in VT

            I would argue that it is not really.  I think that there’s a big difference between “The President is authorized to use the Armed
            Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and
            appropriate” and ” That war be and is hereby declared to exist between the United Kingdom
            of Great Britain and Ireland and the dependencies thereof”.  Both had military action as the outcome, but there are two paths there.  One says “we can do this”, and the other says “oh, it’s on”.  Take a look at the 5 times that we have officially declared war.  There are some real differences in tone and intent.

          • Gregg Smith

            But the Constitution does not weigh tone and intent. I guess we’re talking in circles. 

          • Ray in VT

            To a certain extent, and part of it depends upon how one defines the terms.  It says declare war, but gives no standard by which to do that, such as requiring the President and Vice President to be natural born citizens without really saying what that means.

            Certainly someone has written a weighty tome analyzing the differences between such cases, and it was probably read by very few.

      • anamaria23

        Is not the discussion about Syria?  War was never declared in Iraq.

  • Flytrap

    I hope someone mentions where Assad’s chemical weapons may have come from.  9-10 years ago I remember hearing that Iraq shipped what it had to Syria but there has been no definitive corroboration or refutation I am aware of.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      bahaahahahahaa

      Thanks for the morning laugh troll. Of course they must have come from Iraq since we couldn’t find Weapons Of Mass Destruction we knew were there.

      • Gregg Smith

        Hussein gassed the Kurds with WMD he did not have.

        • jefe68

          You have to be kidding. Better get your facts straight. The gas was destroyed way before 9/11 happened under the UN and NATO sanctions after the first Iraq war. To use this horrific event for your own right wing political agenda is vile and really shows what you are made of. 

          • Gregg Smith

            Surely you can’t be saying Hussein had WMD!

          • northeaster17

            He did have WMD’s Gregg. 

        • anamaria23

          The topic is Syria.

          • Gregg Smith

            Flytrap asked an excellent question involving Syria. Syria does not exist in a vacuum. 

        • nj_v2

          Greggg’s troll hacking drops to new levels. This is lame even by Greggg’s already wheel-rut-low standards.

          • Gregg Smith

            So he gassed the Kurds with WMD he did have? Or are you saying he didn’t gas the Kurds?

          • nj_v2

            Even i’m embarrassed for you. Kinda sad to trumpet this kind of ignorance over and over in public.

          • Gregg Smith

            It has to be one. I can see why you don’t want to answer.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Not only did the Hounds of the Baskervilles not bark, they weren’t there. What more proof did we need?

      • Flytrap

        I said “may have come from” and then qualified that with a lack of corroboration or refutation yet you want to be a snarky prick and imply things not said.  The question still remains, where did they come from.  Perhaps, in your infinite wisdom, you can enlighten us all instead of being a jackass.

        • DrewInGeorgia

          If I knew where every chemical weapon on the planet originated I would state such. I don’t, so I keep my mouth shut. And what difference does it make where they may have originated? It is where they are now and what is being done with them that matters.

          • Flytrap

             There is this, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_Weapons_Convention coupled with no listing for Syria having facilities for making them.  So, again, where did their weapons come from?

          • DrewInGeorgia

            Again:

            It is where they are now and what is being done with them that matters.

          • Ray in VT

            I don’t know about that, Drew.  That may be the important question for the moment, but I think that origins is an important one.  I wonder if any of their stuff came from the old Soviet Union days.

          • Gregg Smith

            Or is there a proliferator we don’t know about?

          • Ray in VT

            Who knows?  Maybe we have some information that isn’t being released to the public, but the people who do know are still likely backing Assad in Syria, so they probably aren’t willing to just tell us at present.

          • Ray in VT

            They spoke to the former head of the Syrian chemical weapons program this morning on NPR, so it looks like we do have contact with some people with some high level knowledge of what they have:

            http://www.npr.org/2012/12/11/166938080/syrian-army-said-to-be-reading-chemical-weapons

          • DrewInGeorgia

            It just seems to me that we should focus on extinguishing a fire before we start investigating how it started.

          • DrewInGeorgia

            Unless we have ulterior motives…

      • Flytrap
    • nj_v2

      “I remember hearing”

      Good enough for me.

      • Gregg Smith

        Did you miss it?

        • nj_v2

          You apparently have me confused with someone who cares what you think.

          • Gregg Smith

            Watch out for the off-topic police.

      • Flytrap

         http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/071912-618875-syria-chemical-weapons-came-from-iraq-.htm#ixzz2EHXo5muT

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          “Investors Business Daily editorial”. Jes sayin.

          • Flytrap

             Wow, so clever, impugn the source so you can disregard the information.  Anything to keep contrary information out of your carefully constructed fairytale world view.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            No, I’m saying if you want me to click on something for “proof”, don’t make it an IBD editorial.

            IBD is an incredibly “impugnable” source. Something from it, alone, doesn’t meet the test of “information”.

            And I don’t respond to click pimps. If it’s real, it’ll be somewhere else besides IBD.

        • nj_v2

          Hahahahahahaha!!!!!!!

          Sum total of this “evidence” is one guy’s (Sada) sketchy story.A couple of guys (“friends”) told a guy (Sada) who’s writing a book that something was put on a plane to Syria. They saw barrels with “skulls and crossbones.” And we should believe it, despite any physical evidence, because the author’s former hostage says so.

          Love it! The hack posse is always good for a few laughs!

          • Ray in VT

            That would seem to be pretty slim “evidence”.  It doesn’t mean that it isn’t true, but one would certainly want more than that upon which to base a solid position.

    • jimino

      So we have Ronald Reagan and Donald Rumsfeld to blame? 

  • DrewInGeorgia

    “Next Story

    David Brubeck

    December 7, 2012″

    Not only is the pop-up irritating, its content is wrong.
    Please drop it OP.
    Apologies to all for the off-topic post.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      Now Drew, don’t go apologizing for that. There’s always space for a thread about how DisqusSucks. (Note: I’ve colloquially expanded to include everything on this page, not just Disqus).

      Are you using NoScript?

      • DrewInGeorgia

        No, but I keep an eye if you know what I mean. I want to see what is actually being presented. Observation is the key.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          Maybe multiple Firefox profiles are an answer. One with no holds barred, one tightened down with NoScript et al.

          (Yeah, I admit the tilt is still how the user has to “fix” the website, but I’m just tossing ideas out there.)

    • nj_v2

      Why even have the pop-up? When one logs onto the page, it’s clear what the next story is going to be.

      The pop-up is redundant and annoying. Who thought this was a good idea?

      What would be useful is to see how many posts there are so far from Greggg and the right-wing hack posse so one can sort of gird oneself.

  • anamaria23

    Thirty comments so far.  11 from Gregg Smith  using it as his personal stick it to Obama and the Dems  forum.
    The show has not even started and the conversation has already deteriorated into Gregg Smith’s  private domain.
    I was naively hoping for some enlightenment. re: Syria.

    • Gregg Smith

      I have not mentioned Obama nor the Democrats. WMD in Syria is a real concern, they have already mixed the Sarin and it must be used within 60 days. We went to Libya unconstitutionally without Congressional approval. What will we do in Syria? 

      Sorry Anamaria, this is on topic and I am bashing no one. But relax, I’ve got work to do so I’ll be gone in a bit.

      • anamaria23

        Once again,  the show is about Syria.   Please contact Tom Ashbrook if you want to have a show discussing the action in Libya. 

        • Gregg Smith

          Don’t turn into the topic police, it’s unseemly. I am on topic or at least I was until I responded to your off-topic post. There are 4 off-topic post below this, cool. Don’t let out bother you.

          • anamaria23

            Can’t blame a gal for trying.  Have a wonderful day.

          • Gregg Smith

            I can’t help but like you… but not in a creepy way.

    • Flytrap

      So now pointing out logical fallacies and correcting false information is sticking it to Obama and the Dems.   Heaven forbid anyone notice the emperor has no clothes.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      I’m guilty too.

      :’(

      I am listening closely to the discussion though. This is such a convoluted nightmare that I think many defer to related issues because we don’t know how to address it head on.

      • Gregg Smith

        I think the war on terror, the Arab Spring, Syria, Iran, Egypt and Libya are all related and cannot be separated from the debate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paolo-Caruso/1778940602 Paolo Caruso

    Amazing how even NPR continues to talk over and cover for this ongoing imperialist scheme of the psycopathic neocons still working from behind the scenes.
    One can only shake their heads at Deborah Amos’ twisted propaganda reports.   What Tom Ashbrook should be discussing is US culpability in causing the deaths and disruptions in Syria, in addition to Iraq.. Afghanistan…Libya…Egypt…etc.
    According to my Syrian friends, life was very good so far under Assad. As was the standard of living under Hussein and Ghaddafi.

    • jefe68

      Wow.

    • anon

      If you do actually have Syrian friends who say that life was very good under Assad, they are a tiny group, outnumbered by the millions who know that life was not good under Assad (and his father). 

      The standard of living under Qaddafi was horrible (notwithstanding that stupid, thoroughly debunked email that went around describing like under Qaddafi as some kind of paradise).

  • jefe68

    What’s happening in Syria is beyond our governments control and any other government for that matter. What I see is Syria becoming the a sectarian battleground and a further disintegration for the Middle East in general. Witness what’s happening in Egypt.

    The instability of this region is going to go on for at least a decade or more. The question for the West and other major world players, such as China, how are they going to deal with this?

    The last thing the US should do is put solders on the ground in Syria. That would be a disaster.

    • AC

      i’ve missed most of the conversation; what happened to the idea that they may have danferous chemical weapons that would be dangerous under certain groups? was that de-bunked?

    • nj_v2

      The “West” will do what it’s always done: Manipulate, subvert, coerce, and use whatever force necessary to maintain it’s influence and control over the region for its own gain.

    • anon

      Actually, the governments of Russia and Iran already have a big influence there… propping up and providing weapons to the Syrian regime.

    • anon

      Actually, the governments of Russia and Iran already have a big influence there… propping up and providing weapons to the Syrian regime.

  • ToyYoda

    Why are we talking about USA shouldering the brunt of a possible intervention?  Why not get Europe involved like they did in Libya?

    • Gregg Smith

      Great point in a perfect world but there is no stomach for it. Countless lives were lost by ceding leadership to France regarding Libya. If America is not in a leadership role the world suffers.

    • Steve__T

       It not just us the EU and NATO are involved.

      • Ray in VT

        Like Turkey, our ally via NATO.  What would be our obligations were Assad to make some sort of substantial strike there?  Oh the tangled webs.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jdowski Joseph Dowski

    Why does it seem the only ones “hand-wringing” in all this is the US. ?  Where are the European countries ?  Where is China ?  Where is Saudi Arabia ?  What’s going on is horrible but it’s not our problem… Still waiting for those Iraqi oil proceeds to pay us back for “liberating” that country….

  • nj_v2

    Add to “Reading list:”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/bashar-alassad-syria-and-the-truth-about-chemical-weapons-8393539.html

    Bashar al-Assad, Syria, and the truth about chemical weaponsBashar’s father Hafez al-Assad was brutal but never used chemical arms. And do you know which was the first army to use gas in the Middle East?

  • Flytrap

    I thought we weren’t the world’s policemen.  If the Syrians want to have a bloody civil war with the wonders of modern technology, let them have it.  Why should we care if Syrians kill Syrians? 

    If we are sooo bothered by corrupt governments killing their own or allowing it to happen, why aren’t we talking about the Copts in Egypt or the Boers in South Africa?  Is sarin worse than the torture and murder happening in South Africa? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_African_farm_attacks

    • Ray in VT

      It depends upon who you ask and on what topic.  Some will say yes on some issues but no on others.  It’s not really a good role to be in in many ways.  It’s costly business, and it often doesn’t win one friends.  The other side of the coin is that we’re the big dog so we have a responsibility.

      “Why should we care if Syrians kill Syrians?”

      Again, that depends.  After the Holocaust the world has certainly taken a closer look at how nations deal with their own people.  Was it really an issue for America that the Nazis were trying to wipe out segments of their own population, or did it only become a problem when they started crossing borders?  It’s a big, tough issue that we always have to ask ourselves about.

      Why aren’t we doing more regarding how native tribes have been dealt with in some Central and South American nations?  What about China in Tibet?  From last week what about the Congo?  There’s a lot of problems in the world, and they certainly aren’t all our problems, but some of them can certainly cause problems for us.

      • http://profiles.google.com/jdowski Joseph Dowski

        Hi Ray, nice points but I’m not buying it….I don’t care one bit about the “big dog” characterization.  If “the world” is looking to us to step and take action, they can put their wallets where their moral outrage is and pony up for our involvement.  

        • Ray in VT

          Hi Joseph.  I certainly think that there are issues with us footing the bill, as we have largely done since the end of World War II.  I mean, is there a reason why we put the money into defending some of our allies as we do.  Which is not to say that we should not be assisting our allies with whom we share interests and adversaries, but do we need as many troops in Korea and Japan as we do?  Maybe we do; maybe we don’t.  It’s something to think about, and I do think that some of our allies should shoulder heavier burdens for our collective actions.

      • jefe68

        Except that the nazi regime invaded all of Europe and had a plan to exterminate the entire Jewish population of Europe. To even have this discussion in the 21st century amazes me. To stand by and let despots carry out genocide is immoral and says more about the nations that ignore it than the despots that carry out these crimes against humanity. The operative word here is humanity.

        You are correct, the US and the rest of the world is very selective in how we deal with wars that are killing civilians and using genocide and rape as a means to terrorize the population.

        • Ray in VT

          There have been cries since the end of World War II to never let something like the Holocaust happen again, but the global response has been mixed, and that’s being rather kind.  I did make a bit of a caveat regarding Nazi crimes by pondering the question of whether what they did only becoming a problem when they crossed borders.  If one wanted to argue that what a country does to and with it’s own people within its own borders, then one would could say yes, but that would be casting aside the rather recent idea of international human rights.

          • jefe68

            Have you read anything about the years leading up to WW2?
            Churchill was warning European leaders about Hitler in the late 30′s.

            Hitler published Mein Kampf in 1925 and was pretty clear on his hatred of Jews and his political ideology in regards to Germany and it’s expansion Eastward.
            As to the idea of genocide becoming a “problem” when it crosses a border I’m not exactly sure as to the context of this comment in regards to these kind of crimes.

            One has to remember that the word genocide was first used to describe the wholesale organized massacre Armenians by the Turks. Interesting to note a lot of Armenians perished in the Syrian dessert.

          • Ray in VT

            Yes, I’ve read a pretty good amount about the lead up to World War II, although it was a good decade ago now.  Churchill did try to raise the alarm, but most leaders didn’t seem to think that the Nazis were going to do what Hitler had said that they would do in Mein Kampf.  Eric Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts talks about the U.S.’s early experiences with the regime.  Most people thought that they would moderate once in power I guess.

            My point about borders was basically in reference to Flytrap’s comment “why should we care if Syrians kill Syrians”.  It certainly was a problem, in moral, ethical and human rights terms from the very outset, but I do wonder if the world would have cared, at least at the time, if the crimes had stayed within Germany’s national frontiers.  I’m not sure that the world would have by and large, so, therefore, it only became a “problem” for the world when the Nazis started exporting their ideology.  Most of the nations that might have been in a position to act stood by, I think largely because they had their own domestic issues and were probably looking to avoid conflict with the memories of the Western Front still fresh in the minds of many.

            I checked the Oxford English Dictionary, and it citied a 1944 book entitled Axis Rule in Occupied Europe as the first use of the term genocide.  Are you aware of an earlier citation?  The Armenian Genocide is a pretty touchy subject in Turkey, where many seem to deny that it was an intentional mass killing, and I must admit that I don’t know a great deal about it.

          • jefe68

            Ray the world did not care about the fate of the Jews in Europe. That’s why it happened the way it did.

            The word genocide was to my knowledge first used in context of the mass killings of the Armenians. You should look it up, it’s a horrific event and over 1.5 million Armenians were killed using poison gas, mass burnings, starvation in concentration camps as well as the injection of typhoid into the large segments of the population. Mass deportations and on and on.

            Before this happened there was a history of pogroms carried out for over a century by the Ottomans on the Armenians. Sound familiar? 

            You are correct,The term “genocide”, created in 1943, was coined by Raphael Lemkin who was directly influenced by the massacres of Armenians during World War I.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

    Funny how we’ve gone through all this without the mainstream press telling Americans that the President’s opponents that certain invasions, uses of military force, etc were “inevitable”, and political opponents were pretty much “treasonous” who didn’t love America.

    Makes it much easier for a real hour on the radio about things without having to be “careful of what you say”.

  • JG1962

    For future discussions of Syria. The “red line” language that is coming from the White House has an international legal basis and so has alerted the international coimmunity. Chemical weapons are illegal to possess since the 1993 international Chemical Weapons Convention came into force in 1995. The use of chemical weapons has been banned since 1925 by the Geneva Protocol. The international agreement to both these treaties is near universal. Use of chemical weapons is also a war crime according the language of the International Criminal Court. However, the mass killing of civilians is also a recognized war crime. On the rumors of the training of Syrians to “secure” chemical stockpiles in their country, Amis is probably referring to current discussions at the United Nations about the difficulty of authorizing inspectors from the Chemical Weapons Convention organization (OPCW) to identify and secure stockpiles in a state of war. Those inspectors have been working for years to help nations party to the treaty to destroy their illegal chemical weapons. But Syria is not one of those nations. 

    • Gregg Smith

      Thanks for the perspective. Unfortunately President Obama’s “red line” was issued months ago. Since the election he is more “flexible” and has retreated.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/07/world/middleeast/syrias-chemical-weapons-moves-lead-us-to-be-flexible.html?_r=1&

      • Mike_Card

        From your comments today, it sounds as though you’re blaming the current administration for current conditions in Syria.  How would a McCain administration have handled it differently, and how would the outcome have different?

        • Gregg Smith

          I don’t directly blame Obama for current conditions in Syria. I reserve that right but not yet. I’m rootin’ for him. There are plenty of other places and situations I won’t mention since you didn’t ask.

          I’m not sure is the short answer. In general I think President Obama has done pretty well and I’m reluctant to give him too hard a time without knowing what is going on behind the scenes with regards to Syria. There are not many good answers. I am concerned he is backing off of the red line he issued in the summer. I think it projects weakness. The atrocities are horrendous and it seems to me nothing is changing for the better. I see a lack of leadership on the world stage when it’s needed. Whether McCain would have been that, I can’t say. I’m not advocating anything, I’m just saying someone needs to put a stop to it before involvement is no longer an option. It’s a dangerous world.

          • Mike_Card

            Thanks, Gregg.  It’s hard for me to get worked up over these situations that are so dependent upon facts we don’t–and won’t–know about.

  • anon

    Why does Tom keep pairing ‘Islamist’ with ‘Al-Qaeda’? Many Syrians, being Muslims, want an Islamic government. That does NOT mean that they want Al-Qaeda…

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