Posts Tagged: Syria

Aug 16

The Man Who Slowly Bled to Death on the Busy Street

I keep thinking about a BBCnews radio report I heard about a man in an Indian city sideswiped by a van. He was knocked down, injured badly, bleeding. The van driver got out, looked at him, then got in the van and went his way. Crowds of people passed the injured man for the next hour–it’s on some surveillance camera in a nearby window–and many looked at him but no one stopped to help, or called the authorities. Blood spread in a pool out from the man. Eventually he bled to death.

The report indicated that these incidents happen fairly often there–they happen here too, at times. In Oakland after the earthquake here were people looting cars in which injured people were crying for help. A documentary about enslaved sex workers in America described an abducted girl screaming for help as her brand new pimp beat her for resisting her first “customer”–and this happened in a busy truck stop parking lot. But apparently ignoring the injured is not unusual in India. (It’s also a place where people perennially ignore the enormous number of children who die of dysentery from quite preventable causes, preventable if local politicians spent a relatively small amount of money.)

The government in India, appalled by this especially egregious incident, decided to start offering cash rewards to people who help others injured on the street. Asked why they need to motivate Good Samaritans financially–the govt official explained the underlying truth. These people might’ve helped, except they’re afraid of the local police. The police in India have a long history of harassing those who call in to help the injured. The person reporting the problem would be harshly questioned and might be detained for days. A law was passed to prevent the police from doing this, but people either don’t know about the law or doubt the police will change.

But that doesn’t mean people bypassing the man who bled to death should not to be held accountable. We understand them better, having heard the history. Yet they are still in the wrong. And this whole syndrome, this spreading attitude of “we’ll help only up to a point, unless there is risk to us” is widespread through the world. Judgment calls about how much we can help are made regarding Syrian refugees. The risks to us are substantial–but we should help anyway. Because a man is bleeding to death on the street.

Aug 13

The Lesser of Evils. Yes. So?

There are no good choices with Syria. Doing nothing and letting them sort it out was just bearable until we saw rows of children who’d died a horrible, painful death through Sarin nerve gas.

I am satisfied that Assad’s regime is behind the nerve gas attacks. Death from nerve gas is not particularly quick. It is terrifying, agonizing. If you survive the nerve gas it changes your DNA. It affects every corner of your being forever. It will affect children you may have…Nerve gas is the most indiscriminate of killers in war, apart from, perhaps, the hydrogen bomb. It is, yes, significantly worse than missiles. It has been forbidden by international treaty for half a century. If we permit it to be used again, with impunity, others will get in line to use it. If we do just enough–take out some artillery emplacements, aircraft, and so on–to give the rebels the edge, they stand a good chance of overthrowing Assad. It is not true that the rebels are “a bunch of al Qaeda operatives”. There are thought to be some Jihadists among them. They have factions. It may be that if the rebels win, Syria becomes a hardline Muslim state and that’s bad. But it’s not as bad as allowing the torture and the slaughter–the latter through executions, mass murders, the shelling of civilian areas, and now the use of nerve gas against civilians, and children–to go on. One million Syrian children have fled the country–were the war over, they could return home. The resultant nation would not be ideal–but it would be at peace…

The USA’s minor, selective, pinpoint military involvement in the Syrian conflict is *not* engaging in war. It may be technically engaging in “warfare”. That is not war. War is gigantic, war is a juggernaut. Make no mistake. War is its own special condition. Our engagement in Iraq was war. This will not be us making war. It will be militarily minor. No Americans will be harmed and no civilians targeted.

Is it merely “the lesser of evils?” Yes. So? Who wishes to vote for the greater of evils?

Aug 13

The United States, Syrian govt use of Nerve Gas…and our Options

This morning it became clear that the President is seriously thinking of militarily intervening in Syria–because it’s now coming clear that men, women and children are being killed by Sarin nerve gas there. One key remark he made (paraphrasing here) is that “It is a threat to the security of the USA when people are using nerve gas anywhere.”… People talk as if Egypt, Syria, the middle east in general, is all part of the USA. “Why doesn’t the President do something more about Egypt?” Egypt is not Missouri or Oregon. It is a foreign country so he can only do so much. And he can only do so much about Syria…But there were hints in his remarks today that *if the UN approves* he’s going to intervene in some way. …President Clinton said that his own greatest policy mistake in office was not doing anything about Rwanda when it was clear that genocide was taking place there. He regrets it… But these aren’t American states–so why do we have to take responsibility? Because we can. And because no one else is doing so, in any major way. Re Egypt, our military intervention doesn’t make sense; I suspect the Pres will suspend military aid to the present govt there… Re Syria, there’s no other way–military intervention is the only course of conscience…If the President intervenes, many on the left and some on the right (like Rand Paul) may object. “Warmonger!” If he doesn’t intervene militarily, many other people of all camps may be horrified with the consequences and howl, “Why didn’t he intervene?” He has just said that international law prevents military intervention by the USA *unless the UN votes to allow it*. If they do, I think he’ll use pinpoint military intervention: a No fly zone, carefully placed missiles–*perhaps* the use of special forces in some small operations *if* he can reliably locate the whereabouts of Assad. I think that, with UN backing, simply taking out Assad and his closest backers… this man who’s ordered the use of Sarin nerve gas on civilians…is appropriate.

Dec 11

“Don’t you have a sense of timing about murdering innocent people?!”

HEADLINE today: *”Syria Reported to Kill 100 on Eve of Visit by Observers*–

“Listen, idiot, I thought I told you, don’t MURDER INNOCENT PEOPLE when it’s right before the observers come–!”

“No, President Assad sir you didn’t, you said ‘Murder a whole bunch of innocent people to freak everybody out so they shut the hell up and go away’–”

“Well don’t you have the common sense to notice that observers are coming and hold off on murdering a whole bunch of innocent people a few more days UNTIL the observers are gone?”

“I did not want to risk going against your orders, sir, as you mightve then put me on the list of innocent people to be–”

“You’re not innocent you moron! I said MURDER INNOCENT PEOPLE! What idiots you are–”