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Author Topic: Syrian crisis - what should be done?  (Read 20797 times)
Peter Stacey
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« on: August 26, 2013, 08:03:51 PM »
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At risk of starting a new thread like the Snowden one, what should be done about the Syrian crisis?

With confirmation that chemical weapons have been used, do we as the rest of the World have a moral obligation to step in with military force, even if that puts our own troops at risk of similar attack?

It's clear that international law has been broken and while it's a bit early to conclude, it is also likely that a war crimes tribunal will be formed at some point in the future. But while major Governments are currently responding with some indecision regarding intervention, does the use of chemical weapons against civilians change the risk vs benefit and should we be more committed to stepping in to stop what happening?

Can we stop what's happening?
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Vladimirovich
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« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2013, 09:44:48 PM »
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With confirmation that chemical weapons have been used
yet another WMD, Gulf of Tonkin, Yellow Rain (that is from Agent Orange hall of famers), you name it...  Wink
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Peter Stacey
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« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2013, 09:49:19 PM »
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yet another WMD, Gulf of Tonkin, Yellow Rain (that is from Agent Orange hall of famers), you name it...  Wink

In this case, substantially more than either the yellow rain (I was involved in an investigation of yellow rain so I know the details intimately) and Gulf of Tonkin incidents.
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Vladimirovich
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« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2013, 09:57:45 PM »
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was involved in an investigation of yellow rain so I know the details intimately
Cui bono

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Peter Stacey
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« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2013, 10:06:39 PM »
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Cui bono

As part of a UN investigation conducted at the request of a country located in south-east asian region following concerns of their citizens. Little else I can really add on that, other than 'as a benefit to whom' - to the locals. This was conducted in recent years.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2013, 10:08:26 PM by Peter Stacey » Logged

kencameron
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« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2013, 10:42:03 PM »
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At risk of starting a new thread like the Snowden one, what should be done about the Syrian crisis?

With confirmation that chemical weapons have been used, do we as the rest of the World have a moral obligation to step in with military force, even if that puts our own troops at risk of similar attack?

It's clear that international law has been broken and while it's a bit early to conclude, it is also likely that a war crimes tribunal will be formed at some point in the future. But while major Governments are currently responding with some indecision regarding intervention, does the use of chemical weapons against civilians change the risk vs benefit and should we be more committed to stepping in to stop what happening?

Can we stop what's happening?
I don't have a clear answer to these good questions. It does seem to be clear that chemical weapons have been used, but in evaluating the US administration's claim that it is certain they were used by the regime, I can't help remembering previous claims of certainty emanating from Washington. We have a moral obligation to avoid any action that will make the situation worse in the long term. Interfering in what appears to be a civil war seems very risky. Doing something for the sake of being seen to do something seems a grotesque moral vanity. "Surgical strikes" seem a dangerous delusion.
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dreed
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« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2013, 01:25:20 AM »
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At risk of starting a new thread like the Snowden one, what should be done about the Syrian crisis?
...
Can we stop what's happening?

Put the country in a box and tell them that when they've sorted out their own internal problems that they'll be let out and welcome to join the world again.
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kencameron
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« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2013, 02:08:35 AM »
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An interesting interview here.
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Peter Stacey
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« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2013, 03:01:29 AM »
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Put the country in a box and tell them that when they've sorted out their own internal problems that they'll be let out and welcome to join the world again.

You could say that about a lot of countries and the uprising is an attempt by the people to do just that. However, when the govt has a huge and deplorable advantage with chemical weapons, is it right to sit around and just say - well, fend for yourselves.

This is one case where more decisive action is warranted. Death by chemical weapons, especially nerve agents is unpleasant to watch and the effects are deplorable. These are methods of attack that the World agreed as early as 1899 that they should never be used (and in several other resolutions and conventions since then).

So for me, this is a case where removing the threat of chemical use is important. After that, I'm less inclined to interfere, which may not make any sense.
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stamper
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« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2013, 03:37:36 AM »
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Does anyone know who supplied the ingredients for the chemical weapons? Did the Syrians create the weapons or did some other country supply them? The USA are appalled by their use but has used them themselves. This is a very messy situation with no clear solution. Interfering could mean it spills into other countries and Russia has an interest in Syria.  Shocked
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hjulenissen
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« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2013, 03:46:36 AM »
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Doing something for the sake of being seen to do something seems a grotesque moral vanity.
Well put. Yet, this seemed to be a popular line of thinking when I discussed a certain middle-eastern dictator with some (but not all) US citizens in 2003: rather do something (no matter how bad the consequences), than doing nothing.

-h
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hjulenissen
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« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2013, 03:55:03 AM »
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It seems that conflicts (asymmetric civil warfare in particular) is more and more being fought in international media.

I'd be sceptical about any claims about one side being "evil" (or more evil than the other), (thus warranting external force) until the matter has been investigated. If there is a large and immediate threat to civilians, I'd be willing to let go of this principle, but would much prefer a broad UN-sanctioned force over some "coalition of willing".

It would be interesting to rally know what the Russian and Chinese leaders are saying to their people, and how those people really feels about this conflict. Is it really the "free people of Syria + the free world" vs "the bad Assad + cynic suppressing regimes that are afraid of future interventions in their own country"? Or is the picture more complex?

-h
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Peter Stacey
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« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2013, 04:01:12 AM »
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Or is the picture more complex?

I'm sure it's more complex then that, but there is never an excuse for the use of chemical weapons by either side in any conflict.

It would be good for a multinational force to form, but history suggests that is rare and takes forever. With the Libyan situation, the risk of Gaddafi using his chemical weapons at the time partly prompted the French action prior to broader NATO action.

Perhaps in this, one country needs to step up and take a lead, but there is so much troubled recent history in the middle east region that the countries that might otherwise have been prepared to take proper steps (not just surgical strikes) are no longer in a position to act unilaterally.
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Manoli
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« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2013, 04:14:38 AM »
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I'd be sceptical about any claims about one side being "evil" (or more evil than the other), (thus warranting external force) until the matter has been investigated. If there is a large and immediate threat to civilians, I'd be willing to let go of this principle, but would much prefer a broad UN-sanctioned force over some "coalition of willing".

+1

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/23/world/middleeast/american-tells-of-odyssey-as-prisoner-of-syrian-rebels.html?pagewanted=all

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/10/world/middleeast/journalists-in-syria-face-dangers-of-war-and-rising-risk-of-abduction.html?pagewanted=all
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stamper
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« Reply #14 on: August 27, 2013, 04:17:33 AM »
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If the West move to take out Assad then he might have a nasty surprise for Israel. Something to think about? From a cynical point of view it strikes me that some "Rulers" in the west want to have on their CV's the fact they got involved in some kind of war. It doesn't really matter that it was successful, only that they managed to get involved. Blair wasn't in the least repentant about Iraq. Still stating he done the right thing. I don't think the citizens of Syria are really on their minds. A good chance to play politics on a world stage.
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kencameron
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« Reply #15 on: August 27, 2013, 04:50:33 AM »
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...the countries that might otherwise have been prepared to take proper steps...
What might "proper steps" be? The interview I linked above suggests that nothing short of a massive invasion suppressing both sides would stop the conflict. The lesser possibility might be to do something to strongly discourage Assad from using chemical weapons again, while otherwise leaving the two sides to fight it out. But can we be sure that such an approach would result in reducing death and suffering in the long term, or can we even think it more likely than not that it would have that effect? 
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Chairman Bill
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« Reply #16 on: August 27, 2013, 05:16:46 AM »
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The Syrian conflict has become (amongst other things) a proxy war between Iran & Saudi Arabia, which certainly complicates things. With Hezbollah joining the Assad side, and various radical Islamist groups joining the rebels, it's fast becoming a case of finding the lesser of two (or more) evils. In the middle of this nonsense, innocent civilians are getting hurt & killed.

Any intervention has to acknowledge that there have been atrocities on both sides, and neither is much interested in freedom & democracy. Whatever action is taken, it needs to be under the auspices of the UN, should be focussed absolutely on the welfare of civilians & the prevention of further conflict. That said, I expect we'll see airstrikes against key military installations & major units known to be loyal to Assad. But FFS, let's not go down that f***witted road of 'shock & awe' again.
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Rob C
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« Reply #17 on: August 27, 2013, 08:19:50 AM »
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The Syrian conflict has become (amongst other things) a proxy war between Iran & Saudi Arabia, which certainly complicates things. With Hezbollah joining the Assad side, and various radical Islamist groups joining the rebels, it's fast becoming a case of finding the lesser of two (or more) evils. In the middle of this nonsense, innocent civilians are getting hurt & killed.

Any intervention has to acknowledge that there have been atrocities on both sides, and neither is much interested in freedom & democracy. Whatever action is taken, it needs to be under the auspices of the UN, should be focussed absolutely on the welfare of civilians & the prevention of further conflict. That said, I expect we'll see airstrikes against key military installations & major units known to be loyal to Assad. But FFS, let's not go down that f***witted road of 'shock & awe' again.


But anything but nonsense to the parties concerned.

FWIW, I'd leave them alone to fight it out. You can't resolve it by intervention any more than was possible anywhere else. These people have their beliefs, just as was the case in Northern Ireland: dogma that eventually ends up being nothing at all to do with the basics of religion (identical) but everythijng to do with control. I think the only sensible action anyone can take is to freeze external assets for all sides - there are clearly more than two.

Maybe Russia and China have a point, despite their obvious worry about agreeing to a precedent that could turn round and bite them both in the ass.

Rob C
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Vladimirovich
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« Reply #18 on: August 27, 2013, 09:02:06 AM »
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As part of a UN investigation conducted at the request of a country located in south-east asian region following concerns of their citizens. Little else I can really add on that, other than 'as a benefit to whom' - to the locals. This was conducted in recent years.
indeed... not only "little else" but "absolutely nothing"  Wink ... that is unlike spraying people w/ defoliants and then they try to teach others about not using chemical weapons... get a mirror.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #19 on: August 27, 2013, 09:50:12 AM »
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1. Demonization
2. Sanctions
3. Incident (or "incident")
4. Moral outrage (or "moral outrage")
5. Intervention

How predictable.

How repetitive.

How pathetic.
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Slobodan

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