Sections

Services

Information

UK United Kingdom

Obama’s Syria strategy: the war he doesn’t want

On Tuesday night Washington time, US president Barack Obama made a public plea to Congress to authorise a military action in Syria that he probably doesn’t want. The tell-tale sign Obama doesn’t actually…

US president Barack Obama addressed a doubting nation and Congress last night. EPA/Michael Reynolds

On Tuesday night Washington time, US president Barack Obama made a public plea to Congress to authorise a military action in Syria that he probably doesn’t want. The tell-tale sign Obama doesn’t actually want a military strike is the fact he was asking Congress for authorisation in the first place.

In August 2012, Obama told a press conference that the use or movement of chemical weapons was a “red line” that would change his calculus on military action in Syria. This comment was unscripted, and it surprised Obama’s aides who to that point had been avoiding any kind of commitment on Syria. Nonetheless, it soon became administration policy and has been reiterated many times.

A year and one day after Obama’s “red line” statement, over 1400 Syrians died in a horrific chemical weapons attack in a rebel-held Damascus suburb. US Secretary of State John Kerry has said there is no doubt that the Assad regime had prepared for the attack, though the strength of his evidence is disputed. Assuming Bashar al-Assad was responsible, why would he do the one thing that could provoke American military intervention?

Some analysts see it as a “costly miscalculation”, but others argue there was a coldly rational strategy behind the chemical atrocity. One explanation, outlined by political scientist James Morrow, is that Assad was cementing the loyalty of his own supporters. By committing such an appalling crime, Assad raised the stakes of the conflict and ensured there was “no way out” for those who support him. If he loses, the minority that backed him might be subject to equally terrible retribution. This gives his supporters no choice but to stay loyal and hope he prevails.

Obama was now trapped into taking action. If he did not indicate some willingness to attack Syria, his “red line” would be exposed as a bluff, and he would face credibility problems for the rest of his presidency. But such a military action remains as deeply unattractive as it was before the chemical attack. Despite Kerry’s promise of an “unbelievably small, limited kind of effort”, it would probably take more than a few cruise missiles to secure a chemical weapons stockpile in the midst of a civil war.

So, Obama took what might be called the “constitutional solution”.

The United States constitution puts the power to declare war in the hands of Congress alone. However, the last time Congress actually declared war was in 1941. Since then, the president has deployed troops using his constitutional authority as “Commander-in-Chief”, sometimes without consulting Congress at all. Most of the time, Congress has actually seemed happy with this arrangement, which allows it to support military action without granting the president the massively increased economic powers that come with declarations of war.

On Tuesday night, Obama said he “believed it was right, in the absence of a direct or imminent threat to our security, to take this debate to Congress”. Anti-war Congressmen will certainly agree with that part of his speech, if nothing else.

But Obama could have got away without seeking Congressional approval. There is plenty of precedent since World War Two for presidents acting unilaterally in military affairs and leaving Congress to decide whether to invoke its rarely-used War Powers Resolution. This is precisely what Obama did in Libya two years ago.

At this point, it looks very unlikely that Obama could get the votes required in Congress to authorise military action in Syria. According to a useful chart from the Washington Post, 253 House members have indicated they are against a military strike while just 26 have said they are in favour of one. In the Senate, the tally is 40-23 against.

It is possible that Obama has reversed two years of profound reluctance to get involved in Syria. But it seems more likely that he would have known how difficult it would be to get a Syria resolution through a Congress which has tried to thwart nearly all of his initiatives. Congressional Republicans used to be reliably hawkish on foreign policy, but this is no longer the case with a Democratic president and an increasingly influential strand of thinking that sees military spending as just another part of government spending.

Above all, public opinion has been consistently against intervention in Syria. This is unsurprising after ten years of incredibly costly Middle Eastern wars which were also sold as being quick and cheap. Members of Congress have little incentive to support it. Obama, as a senator, would not have supported it.

Obama also used Tuesday’s speech to announce that the congressional vote would be delayed while the United States and Russia pursued a diplomatic option allowing Syria to hand over its chemical stockpile to the international community. While the United States and Russia had been discussing this possibility for over a year and as recently as last week, it did not appear on the agenda until Kerry dismissed it as a possibility on Monday. This spurred Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov to publicly propose it as an option to Syria.

Syria quickly signaled agreement with the “Lavrov plan”, acknowledging for the first time that it possesses chemical weapons. It also suits Obama’s purposes, allowing him to avoid military action without having to lose a congressional vote.

Whatever happens, things are likely to remain unspeakably grim for the Syrian people. Many have pointed out that chemical weapons are only a tiny part of a civil war that has killed more than 100,000 people. But neither the chemical weapons problem nor the civil war are likely to be solved by American military intervention. The American public apparently knows this. Congress seems to know it. Obama, despite his words, seems to know it.

Join the conversation

109 Comments sorted by

  1. Mark Pollock

    Analyst

    B.O. Is a blowhard who gets himself into trouble every time he opens his mouth. He has never displayed any evidence of understanding the complexities of the the Middle East or anything else for that matter.

    report
    1. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      Great 'analysis' Mark. Any other pithy comments which outline your deep understanding of the situation and how you obviously know so much more than the President of the USA and all of his security and foreign policy analysts?

      Perhaps there is a lot of cunning politics in Obama's approach. He - and many others - have been critical of previous unilateral action by former presidents, so to go down that road himself would be hypocritical. And by putting the responsibility on Congress, he is forcing…

      Read more
    2. lavinia kay moore

      child and family counsellor

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      So, Obama has been critical of unilateral actions carried out by former presidents ( read G.W.) so to go down the same road would be hypocritical?
      He has already gone down that road. Every drone attack on foriegn soil intended to assassinate any enemy( proven or not) is a unilateral action, and I suspect, a crime.
      Obama, by adopting vigilante justice, (now there is an oxymoronic statement if there ever was one), has chosen to act outside the standards underpinning international and American law…

      Read more
    3. Mark Pollock

      Analyst

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      He "doesn't want to take action" so he adopts an aggressive posture and threatens action. Then he tries pass the buck for his blowhard posture onto the hawks, who are supposedly doveish? They knock it it back and B.O. Claims some sort of political win?

      Or maybe he just doesn't have clue and says whatever floats into his tiny mind. One thing is for sure, he hasn't done any good and he might have done a lot of harm.

      Diplomatically, the Russians are the winners from this latest stuff up.

      report
    4. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      "....Or maybe he just doesn't have clue and says whatever floats into his tiny mind...."

      I see that your analytical skills are unchanged Mark.

      report
    5. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Yeah, Obama drones have been telling us about his 3 dimensional chess playing for years

      I don't believe it

      report
    6. Allan Gardiner

      Dr

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      It'll prove to be more efficacious if he doesn't become entangled in any pernicious complexities that the rest of the world can well do without. Most folk want peace pure and simple and they don't want to wait unnecessarily. Whilst it took many lives, the bombing of Japan saved many by the same token and the US is well aware of the fact. Peace will eventually obtain in Syria so why prolong the agony. Sad as it is, whether many folk in Syria die over a long period of time or many die in a relatively…

      Read more
  2. Paul Felix

    Builder

    John Pilger has written a much more interesting analysis.
    Can anyone tell me when the USA has chosen peace over war in the last 50 years? Like us, they simply cannot resist the opportunity to go to war to demonstrate we are the good guys, and we will slaughter anyone who says differently.
    Obama follows in the footsteps of Bush with the main difference being that Bush believed fighting should be between people, not sending pilot-less bombs to destroy innocents.
    Obama is a pseudo liberal coward. The voting proposal, as with Cameron, was a fig leaf to deceive the few who still believe Obama is something he is clearly not.
    The only amazing thing about this, is Abbott's position, though, rest assured, that will change when he is instructed by his master.

    report
    1. Billy Field

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Paul Felix

      Perhaps, but don't think it is "politician spectrum stuff". "They have all been bought" says Gore Vidal

      And it seems if they don't "tow the line" they are targeted for removal on both sides...

      report
    2. lavinia kay moore

      child and family counsellor

      In reply to Paul Felix

      Pilger is spot on then. I havent read his comment yet. Will do so.
      I also see Obama as a pretender. A performer.
      Not as a leader.

      report
    3. Mark Pollock

      Analyst

      In reply to Paul Felix

      Well, on the most important issue, the Americans pursued a policy of containment and conciliation with the USSR. That's just one example. You only asked for one and its enough to refute your silly, undergraduate argument.

      report
    4. Billy Field

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      Mark Pollock : Can you please be specific?..."USSR containment & conciliation" where?
      Also, did they really "choose" peace or was it compulsion due to USSR military power?

      report
    5. Paul Felix

      Builder

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      Please note I am a builder not an undergraduate so I am allowed ill informed opinions, as are you.
      Abbott changed his position after speaking to Obama, my opinion therefore was silly, but correct.
      Your assertion about USA and USSR is simply fatuous. Mutual assured destruction, weirdly, means just that. There is no other reason that the USA did not attack Russia. They ran proxy wars instead - as they are still doing. Bullies are also cowards.
      So your one example is a non sequester, but your position that one example nullifies the rest is bizarre.

      report
    6. Allan Gardiner

      Dr

      In reply to Paul Felix

      Paul, I've been ever-so-diligently trying to follow your drift but your "non sequester?" -- quite "inappropriately" I might add -- only served to throw me off track. I sneaked a quick look behind me to see if anyone else was following in case I'd inadvertently taken a wrong turn which I now know I hadn't, because around the very next b_end'orsement, lo and behold, I came across a sign that said "non sequitur", and then everything fell into place once again, but it was touch and go for a while there if you follow me_andering.

      Would it be alright with you if I sequestered your malapropistic "non sequester" just for safe keeping?

      The reason I ask this is because you've p_un'fortunately shot yourself in the foot_note -- with your very last line -- and I feel that it's in your very best interests to apprise you of the fact lest it likely recur.

      report
  3. Billy Field

    logged in via Facebook

    “As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia, and Sudan.”
    Former Nato Commander General Wesley Clark

    report
  4. Billy Field

    logged in via Facebook

    Can someone tell me why we are "intervening"? Does anyone truly believe it is to help the people of Syria? Isn't that what they said regarding Iraq?

    Why is it, is it Oil, War profits, a smokescreen to divert attention from Israels continuing criminal acts (which are "supported" by west) or what?

    The question Jornos & Academics and everyone really ought be asking is why are we seemingly supporting this insane rebellion... and if change is required are there not better ways?

    report
    1. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Billy Field

      It has been suggested that it is oil and especially gas that is important about Syria; that it is a key energy transit route to Europe. Some would have it that some Arab countries are seeking dominance of this industry in Syria which would be state owned at this point, I think. With John Kerry having been reported to have said some Arab states were offering to finance the US's war. Also, although the Assad government was voted in and is supported by amongst others its Christian minority, it is a socialist state not a favoured brand of the US's while other state's dictators as in Saudi Arabia etc (and perhaps even US allies in the Syrian civil war/rebellion), are apparently alright.

      report
    2. Billy Field

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Chris Saunders

      Thankyou Chris Saunders for taking the time for this response.
      I need to mull this over because I can not see the sense in this?....Seems IF we were really concerned about energy we would do things very differently.
      I suspect the world has almost limitless energy production potential...even with old 20th Century technology. We waste energy like no tomorrow & ignore the future impact of population explosion & global development which is so desperately needed + etc.
      Eg If Oz imports $2Bill of oil…

      Read more
    3. Jared Goodwin

      Information Mercenary

      In reply to Billy Field

      Geopolitics.

      Russia currently has a monopoly on the euro gas supply. Qatar and Turkey want to build a gas line with the help of the Saudi's to break that monopoly.

      This line needs to go through Russian ally Syria. Naturally Russia doesn't want to loose all the gas profit so they want to keep the current regime who doesn't want the proposed gas line.

      That's a pretty tight summary as I understand it. Check out this for a good detailed overview.

      http://www.reddit.com/r/TrueAskReddit/comments/1lw8yg/why_does_the_president_seem_so_personally/cc432ts

      report
    4. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Billy Field

      Yes, it is important that we follow the money trail not just from a personal greed point of view but by the very nature of the capitalist economic system’s constant need for growth and increasing profits and its natural progression to monopoly for its survival. The CEO of a large concern needs this constant impetus and needs to move now. The Arabian Gas line from Egypt only began in 2003 and so it is a new multibillion dollar player thrust into the mix of political/religious/social chaotic Arabia…

      Read more
    5. ERIC KELLY

      retired

      In reply to Billy Field

      Well Billy I think it's unlikely to be a genuine concern for the civilian population of Syria. The US has form when it comes to killing and maiming civilians, including with chemicals, and brushing it off as 'collateral damage', and they also have form in telling lies to justify unjustifiable attacks on other countries.

      The use of gas as a weapon is reprehensible and it should be outlawed. So, too, should any weapon of mass destruction and for the same reason. Peace will only begin when the hypocrisy ends.

      report
    6. Robert Attila

      Business Analyst

      In reply to Chris Saunders

      Chris, its not just capitalism that seeks constant growth, its nature as well. Its also nature that keep excessive growth in check, ie animals breed to fill voids, but when too many exist then starvation reduces the number once again.

      report
    7. John Sayers

      Designer

      In reply to Chris Saunders

      Chris - there are two pipe lines in this affair. The Arabian line you mentioned is supported by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries and is a Sunni Muslim backed pipeline via Jordan to Syria and then via Turkey to Europe.
      The second pipeline is from southern Iran via Iraq and through Syria to Turkey and is a Shiite backed pipeline.

      The rebel forces support the Sunni pipeline whereas the Syrian Government supports the Shiite pipeline.

      Russia doesn't want the Sunni pipeline competing with it's Caspian Sea pipeline which it intends to link up with the Shiite pipeline plus the current Syrian government allows Russia an important Mediterranean sea port.

      report
    8. Billy Field

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Chris Saunders

      The real question is where is the NEED for this?

      Notes from International Action Center Statement below.

      "The President's speech Tuesday night repeated all of the lies the United States has been telling about Syria to justify war -- and shows that war may be delayed, but is not off the table.


      The biggest lie being told right now is that Assad agreed to give up his country's chemical weapons because of the United States' "credible military threat."

      What has really happened is that…

      Read more
    9. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Robert Attila

      Yes, that's putting things into perspective. This nature growth, as similarly occurring in the human body itself, is sure some natural imperative which our welfare states have tried to protect us from its full harshness. Is there something in the psyche of our leaders that they embrace war (in foreign lands) as a distinct activity outside and exclusive of the moral bounds of their natural care for their constituents?

      report
    10. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to John Sayers

      A second pipeline (that I did not know about) John, but of course suspected with the questions over the pipeline going to Lybia and Russia's interest in Syria's affairs. An interesting but predictable situation when the two strongest nations in the world are now both capitalists.

      report
    11. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Billy Field

      Yes, the 'real need' question does still remain. Is it "hot competition" posturing as opposed to the once "cold war" or just a return to the old colonialism and 'lebensraum' concerns?

      report
    12. Louise O'Brien

      Marketer.Communicator. Observer

      In reply to Billy Field

      It is all about 'Greater Israel.'

      Basically Israel wants to steal the land belonging to Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt's land up to the Suez Canal. This will make them the most powerful country in the region and it will put America in the most important location in the centre of world which is why the Americans are behind it.

      report
  5. Paul Prociv

    ex medical academic; botanical engineer at University of Queensland

    All along, I've been wondering what's so special about chemical warfare, that it has to be targeted specifically as being exceptionally evil? It has already been analysed by others in TC, but there are lots of alternative, perhaps more horrific ways, of being killed during war, including being blown up, burned, cut to pieces etc., with devastating consequences should you survive the trauma. Just look at how Muslims are treating other Muslims right now in Egypt, which officially is not at war…

    Read more
    1. Billy Field

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Paul Prociv

      Oh great..."Perhaps a cruise missile "surgical strike""?

      "While it's Syrians killing other Syrians, historical experience insists that the West should stay right out of it.".....

      To: Paul P, Paul...before you send in the missiles & killing perfectly decent people like you, have you asked yourself, is it Syrians against Syrians or PAID Western backed mercenaries from many places killing Syrians & Assad trying to maintain order?

      report
    2. Mark Pollock

      Analyst

      In reply to Paul Prociv

      Paul, I think you're on the money's here except when you say that B.O. Has a hidden agenda. He can't think that far ahead.

      report
  6. Joseph Bernard

    Director

    re:"Assuming Bashar al-Assad was responsible, why would he do the one thing that could provoke American military intervention?"

    well maybe he did not do it at all. there are those that argue that the rebels have managed to secure their own chemical stash and are using it to trigger an attack on Assad..

    http://www.infiniteunknown.net/2013/09/08/mother-agnes-a-catholic-nun-living-in-syria-for-20-years-footage-of-chemical-attack-in-syria-is-fraud/

    Mother Agnes also reports on the genocide that 'rebels' or 'invaders' are committing like beheadings, rapes, and the dismembering of a person while they are still alive..

    How is the liking of bombing a country going to save anyone's lives? Your 1400 vs -- how many 100,000s of thousands?

    We prosper in a peaceful world where we build a future.. This war has the potential to get a whole more ugly as the dogs of war start barking and will bite us all

    report
  7. Charles Kwong

    Consultant

    I read an article in the Guardian on Monday with the following heading:

    "Syria chemical weapons attack not ordered by Assad, says German press
    Bild am Sonntag cites high-level German surveillance source suggesting Syrian president was not personally behind attacks"

    The article went on to question whether Assad is control. I would be surprise if the US surveillance did not get the same, but it appeared not one of the factors for recommending the "strike" decision. Neither, it appears, was this mentioned in the Australian news.

    Striking Syria when Assad is not in control may have a lot of unintended consequences.

    report
    1. Louise O'Brien

      Marketer.Communicator. Observer

      In reply to Charles Kwong

      Yes, there is far more evidence to suggest that the US backed terrorists/rebels fighting the US proxy war in Syria were behind the chemical weapons rather than Assad.

      report
    2. Abi Taylor

      Politics Student

      In reply to Louise O'Brien

      If this was the case, then Assad would be the first to hold this truth - why then diddn't he agree to letting in the UN or other international inspectors much more quickly to 'clear his name' ,and allow him to point the finger at the rebels as the perpetrators of such an attack?

      report
    3. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Abi Taylor

      As I recall when the UN inspectors went into Syria they were fired upon by rebel forces and they had to be protected.

      report
    4. mark delmege

      self employed

      In reply to Abi Taylor

      Abi As I recall the request was made on the Saturday and they were ok'd the day following. Perhaps a better question would be to ask why they were only asked to confirm that a chemical was used. Surely it would have been useful for them to have also inquired into who was the perpetrator. Inspectors were discouraged from this line of questioning. lets face it this was a charade and Obama's red line was a provocation for the rebels to attack. Only the rebels had the motivation. And as is obvious from previous attacks they also had the means.

      report
  8. Louise O'Brien

    Marketer.Communicator. Observer

    Good article.

    The conflict in Syria is a US backed proxy war. Assad's military is winning the conflict which is why Assad had no reason to use chemical weapons on his own people.

    There is no conclusive evidence that Assad's Government used chemical weapons on his own people, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that he was not behind the use of them.

    Assad's Government loses nothing by giving up his country's chemical weapons.

    Obama cannot attack Syria for the following reasons:
    1…

    Read more
    1. lavinia kay moore

      child and family counsellor

      In reply to Louise O'Brien

      While it is true that there are conpiracy theorists who spin wildly disingenuous lines about almost every conflict in the middle east, the facts are that that region of the world HAS been conspired against by many foreign powers/ armies for millenia.
      Cold war political games impacted on it. As do the ambitions of the USA which likes to fancy itself as the new world empire.Which in some ways it is.
      But we do know, thanks to those brave whistleblowers that conspiracies abound, and that includes those…

      Read more
  9. Michael Sheehan

    Geographer at Analyst

    When I heard Obama saying "no, no, this is nothing like Iraq or Afghanistan", all I could do was call him 'Pinochhio', and change the channel, disgusted.

    report
  10. Louise O'Brien

    Marketer.Communicator. Observer

    The Russians are sending further war ships, complete with nuclear weapons, to Syria so I am thinking that the US Congress might decide NOT to illegally bomb Syria.

    A couple of nuclear weapons hitting Dimona in Israel would be the end of the country.

    This is one bar room brawl the Americans do not want to start.

    report
  11. greg fullmoon

    being and doing

    USA and its allies use of Chemical Weapons;

    Israel in operation Cast Lead just as Obama was getting ready to be installed as emperor;

    http://www.clevelandchallenger.com/u-s-media-suppressed-2009-un-report-showing-israel-using-chemical-weapons-against-palestinians/

    Fallujah Iraq October 2004. This has Depleted Uranium Weapons involved to cloud and further toxify the mess;

    http://www.ufppc.org/us-a-world-news-mainmenu-35/9836-news-scientific-study-shows-soaring-cancer-rates-in-fallujah-du-suspected.html

    Read more
    1. greg fullmoon

      being and doing

      In reply to greg fullmoon

      An essay written yesterday 11-9-2013. I'm in the Tasman region of New Zealand.

      9/11 down the track 12 years, what's to be done?

      It was 12 years ago tomorrow morning that I was picked up early in the morning by my fellow pine tree pruning crew. Before I had gotten into the vehicle, they were asking through the window of the car had I heard that some one or group had attacked the USA?

      I was incredulous as I understood the USA were an extremely effective military power and that their paranoia…

      Read more
    2. lavinia kay moore

      child and family counsellor

      In reply to greg fullmoon

      thankyou for these links. I must admit that I have not been as diligent inseeking out such information. I did so in the early years of this millenium while researching a book i wrote (still editing!) about the US interventions after 2001 and other matters.
      I am pleased to see that there are many who have bothered to look at what the USA is and has been up to.Their perceptiveness contrasts sadly with our lacklustre leaders.

      report
    3. lavinia kay moore

      child and family counsellor

      In reply to greg fullmoon

      thankyou again. I will follow these up later. A couple of comments. My first response was thank god it wasnt the beautiful empire state building. Still half asleep listening to the radio.
      What I found incredible was the repeatiing of the images. Brainwashing it certainly was. Puzzling it was also. At least for me. too many questions have never been satisfactorily answered.
      Also perhaps of relevance is the episode of the anthrax letters. Never saw anything here that indicated that the particular strain of anthrax was sourced to Fort Detrick.The US military chemical/biol weapons labs.
      I think we all have been affected , one way or the other by the boy who cried wolf syndrome.

      report
  12. David Beirman

    Senior Lecturer, Tourism at University of Technology, Sydney

    There is much to commend this article but I think that Russia's proposal to quarantine Syria's chemical weapons stockpile has provided a helpful escape hatch for the Obama administration from embarking on what would be domestically and internationally problematic intervention. Clearly, if the US was serious about punishing the Syrian regime for atrocities against its won people it could have acted well before the sarin gas attack by which time an estimated 100,000 Syrians had already died as a consequence of more conventional forms of murder.

    While China, Russia and Iran maintain their active and tacit support for the Assad regime it is unlikely that NATO's intervention will go beyond the symbolic level. Certainly the absence of a UN Security Council consensus on Syria has exacerbated extremism within the Syrian government and opposition elements.

    report
    1. Billy Field

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Beirman

      David, without meaning to be disrespectful, I honestly can not believe a person who is a senior lecturer at a "Science based Institution" seemingly believes :"what he is told"...and told by the MS media & politicians "narrative" without any proof whatsoever or logical rationale..... I always follow the money!

      report
  13. David J Wolf

    Carer

    There is an excellent 18 minute documentary on Youtube that outlines the issues for this case called "The Syrian War What You're Not Being Told". I find the author of this piece to be highly credible since his material is well-supported and logical.

    http://youtu.be/dkamZg68jpk

    report
  14. John Sayers

    Designer

    I posted this as a reply but I think it should be a post on this subject because it brings into the discussion the religious aspect.

    There are two pipe lines in this affair. The Arabian line you mentioned is supported by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries and is a Sunni Muslim backed pipeline via Jordan to Syria and then via Turkey to Europe.
    The second pipeline is from southern Iran via Iraq and through Syria to Turkey and is a Shiite backed pipeline.

    The rebel forces support the Sunni pipeline whereas the Syrian Government supports the Shiite pipeline.

    Russia doesn't want the Sunni pipeline competing with it's Caspian Sea pipeline which it intends to link up with the Shiite pipeline plus the current Syrian government allows Russia an important Mediterranean sea port.

    report
  15. Michael Hay

    retired

    Has anyone considered that the Western World should keep out of the religious sectarian squabbles of the East? Involving oneself in someone else's religious differences is a bad option, even although the Western World has been doing it since the Crusades.
    And the point of asking the Government of the day to judge whether or not it wishes to commit its voters to a war in which they have little interest is surely a level of democracy. I do not agree that any one person, be he/she the President or the Prime Minister should be able to commit the citizens he/she leads to death and/or maiming in a unilateral manner.
    Democracy should be the decider, not political expediency.

    report
    1. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Michael Hay

      Good point Michael. My position on this has always been that it is not about religion. Religion is the rallying call for the citizens.

      report
    2. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Michael Hay

      Michael,

      regarding the 'Crusades' propaganda which i hear on many occasions as islamic excuses to justify their violence and hate of the towards the west. This propaganda also serves to feed our western 'guilt' syndrome that seems to be part of our christian heritage.

      Lets just get the facts straight and truth be known.. Here is an interesting presentation based on history rather than propaganda.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_Qpy0mXg8Y

      report
    3. Michael Hay

      retired

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Joseph, you missed the point I was making. My notion is that there is no excuse for an outsider to become involved with someone else's war - regardless of who is fighting it. I was not referring to your ideas of guilt or Islamic excuses. The current topic is a war in an Islamic country, but the proposition applies to any place in the world and, particularly, any religion.

      report
    4. greg fullmoon

      being and doing

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Righto Joseph where do we go with this? Does this justify the current revenge on the Islamic World for 9/11? Is this the thesis?

      If not what is it?

      The larger Muslim states headed toward secular democracy; Turkey and Ataturk, remember Iran's democracy deposed by way of CIA/British intel coup. That was a democracy, the West disliked their democratic determination. Egypt has been trying on and off for a democracy. The West seems ever to interfere. Palestinians voted in Hamas in 2006, that went…

      Read more
    5. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to greg fullmoon

      Hi Greg,

      so, there is the past and then there is the here and now. So what now?

      So what is the next step? Stranger than fiction! is it possible?, can we take a step forward which is away from the mistakes of the past. So what if, what if we look to the future in a way that we would like it to be? How likely, then are the chances then, that the probability of the next step to be taken, is most likely to be towards and attracted to your own preferred future.

      I hear what you say and yes there are all sort of things good and bad.. So who really knows what has been going on in the past? history is mostly the version of the victor. So, what do we now, do we walk backwards into the future with our eyes stuck in the past? Are we to be chained to history? Or should we just turn around and walk forward towards a win win world for us all?

      How is what you want a win win preferred future?

      report
    6. greg fullmoon

      being and doing

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Hello again Joseph. The task is to rise and respond to the challenge. Do you want a win-win outcome? Would that involve the developing World getting a fair share of their resources and the advantageous technological advances of the West?

      What is the challenge? To be true to our shared and individual humanity. What are the positive traits we associate with our selves? Awareness, intelligence, compassion, foresight, intuition, creativity, assertiveness, strength, planning, action both on an individual…

      Read more
    7. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to greg fullmoon

      Greg,

      in the end we are all the same hardware, in this human body we occupy and all that is different is the way we think. We are all programed differently with some programs "better" than others.. To complicate the issue the word "Better" means entirely different things to different people and all too often this difference is contested Bitterly so.

      How to achieve harmony and "Better" future? Well to to start with this requires dialog which will thrash out a common vision of the world…

      Read more
    8. greg fullmoon

      being and doing

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Looks like we are on the same page, enjoy the rest of your weekend Joseph.

      I sense the Western leaders through their elaborate abilities to check the pulse of the populace realize their 'Bomb Syria option' stinks.

      I also sense their was a bit of mutiny in the Military hierarchy, but again this is really as a result of the USA populace's anxiety at yet another war.

      How we in Oceania see the developments is untested, however I'd imagine the majority are opposed. We were opposed to the Iraq…

      Read more
    9. Allan Gardiner

      Dr

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      There's really no such things as "good" or "bad" for they are just subjective ideations. What may seem good now can be bad tomorrow yet it hasn't altered one whit. To every action/inaction exists its exact opposite. What there is, is IS. There just "is".

      report
    10. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Allan Gardiner

      That's alright then, we can all be let off and go back home. However, if one country or one army or one rebel is judged as immoral and others not, then we are lapsing into moral relativism and that is the problem with the International Court of Justice.

      report
    11. Michael Hay

      retired

      In reply to greg fullmoon

      Essentially, the problem is a human one. Humans are somehow addicted to power - sometimes the power comes from political clout, sometimes from large amounts of money and sometimes it is influence.
      Until we can get around to making the study of ethics and morality an essential influence in the education of our children, we shall continue to have ethics being replaced by the acquisition of power, in one form or another. Just how we manage to turn our current leaders, political or religious, into ethically-minded and altruistic persons of influence is beyond my limited knowledge.
      Perhaps you have a thought on this ?

      report
    12. greg fullmoon

      being and doing

      In reply to Michael Hay

      Yes Michael politics is a human issue. I'm not sure that we are all addicted to power as such. We have varying degrees of ambition and ruthlessness built in to our psyche. These arise through our programmed development as we experience the World. Perhaps a small group are excessively driven to selfish ends, the terms employed to describe these conditions are sociopathy and psychopathy. There are cross overs and as in all intellectualized renderings of the human condition probably not a wholly accurate…

      Read more
    13. Michael Hay

      retired

      In reply to greg fullmoon

      Greg, it is too late in the day for me to absorb all you have written. I shall start again sometime later.
      In the meantime I think that, as we are not England, we have no need for our democracy to be based on the confrontational Westminster System. We need a radical review of the manner in which our prospective parliamentarians are selected. This would mean a severe restriction of the power at present held by our political parties; they should have the right to select their own members taken from…

      Read more
    14. David Wolf

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Hay

      I don't like the system we have because I don't trust those who seek power and influence. When I go to the polling booths I'm looking to support candidates who will represent my interests and our nation in that order but the moment a candidate wins he claims he has a mandate to rule. Could someone please clarify for me whether the lower house is called the "House of Representatives" or "the House of Rulers" because our politicians seem to be confused about this and the fact that what they want, think and believe is merely the wishes of one voter from the thousands who put him or her there.

      And while I do enjoy the dicussion on alternative systems I really don't trust anyone to implement them since they will be perverted by influencial forces to cater to the powerful few.

      report
    15. greg fullmoon

      being and doing

      In reply to David Wolf

      Hi David,

      If you don't trust then you'll have to do everything yourself. The road to MMP in New Zealand happened over a few election cycles and despite changes in the then governments;

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

      The voters were asked about it again in 2011 and voted overwhelmingly to stay with MMP. They like having diverse representation.

      Some might argue that this doesn't give strong governance, however it is more broadly democratic. It means that the…

      Read more
    16. Michael Hay

      retired

      In reply to greg fullmoon

      Greg, The world problem is in its handling of money. Unfortunately, there are those institutions which are dependent upon money being traded in such a way that a profit is created for the institution.
      There was an excellent system devised near the end of WWII called the Bretton Woods Agreement. It set the relationship between the currencies of the world and there was thus no trading of currencies. It seems to me that, had this arrangement held in place, we would never have seen the Global Financial…

      Read more
    17. greg fullmoon

      being and doing

      In reply to Michael Hay

      Hi Michael, what did you in Motueka? I actually was trying to place you from my earlier life in Australia. Motueka is fine, growing each year. Might be 8000 folk in the greater area. Some rare characters along with all the tourists and tourist workers for the seasonal work. That's how I got here, on a ladder picking apples.

      I was wondering if you did any work for PA Consulting, on a Vicrail-VLine Workshops report? This is a long shot.

      Be well my friend.

      It is very timely your offering on…

      Read more
    18. Michael Hay

      retired

      In reply to greg fullmoon

      Greg, I liked the info about bancor and its very reasonableness. Unfortunately, while it would seem to be a good system for the world economies, there is now too much belligerence for Keynes' ideas to be usable. USA would (again) refuse to lose its dominance - can you imagine that country becoming gentle?
      I worked in Motueka for a tobacco company until 1959, when I transferred to the Land of Oz to do the same work with tobacco growers - I was involved with the agronomy, fertilizing, growing and curing of tobacco in the field, but I was also involved in seed-saving, variety evaluation and the first stages of manufacture. Worked for ten years in Victoria from the tobacco research station until I dislocated my spine and was pronounced unsuitable and unemployable (at the age of 49!). So I employed myself for another 20 years and now am retired enough to have time for The Conversation. I never indulged in consulting.

      report
  16. Michael Shand

    Software Tester

    There is something profoundly sick about this that the only option presented by the west has been military force

    report
    1. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Michael Hay

      Hooray, to the extent that the old cold war 'enemy' can be recognized as a peace maker or at least attempted peace maker it does appear to be a profound shift in the old divisions. Let's hope it does not prove just a mirage. Some are still fighting the cold war so we must not get too excited.

      report
    2. Michael Hay

      retired

      In reply to Chris Saunders

      Somewhere along the line there needs to be the ability to change our fixed concepts of one another. It will never be a case of forgive and forget, for our memories will not allow us to forget and our selfishness will not abide the thought of forgiveness.
      Russia is no more Stalin's, than USA is Dubya's. The ones who need to fully engage in dialogue are the leaders of the world's countries.
      I fear that the unforgiving aspects of known history are too huge to surmount. Would that a little of Christian philosophy could emerge - just the bit about ' loving one's neighbour' would do. Or perhaps we could modernise the mantra and substitute 'get along with' for 'love'.

      report
    3. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Michael Hay

      It is possible to subsume resentment and hate and at the same time not totally forgive and forget. And that is important. It’s a balancing act, but it is done by most people every day. I really do think people prefer to get along. That does not mean they have to love, but mostly they finish up doing that anyway. It’s the ‘do unto others as you would have them do until you ’ that I prefer, and that I am certain is pre Christian for as far as I can tell that’s how all societies work. I think this approach is fully shown as possible by the truth and reconciliation commission as carried out in South Africa. As for the leaders: politicians are an adversarial breed and on the international stage they feel compelled to grandstand for home consumption and national interest somewhat as an athlete at the Olympics; they feel compelled to win (however, in this context that would be perceived).

      report
    4. Michael Hay

      retired

      In reply to Chris Saunders

      I remember reading Charles Kingsley's "the Water Babies" and being impressed with Mrs Do-As-You-Would-Be-Done-By". Perhaps it should be required reading for politicians! And I do think that your comment about politicians being an adversarial breed is so correct, but I also link that to the excessive power wielded by the main Political Parties. They need to be cut down to size. After all, if the Labour membership is only 40,000 and the others are greater or lesser, in total, they are still a very small portion of the total voters.
      However, we have the interesting rejection of the most confrontational of MPs in Sophie Mirabella. Her electorate has dropped her support for 62% to 44% in 12 years. I wonder if she or her colleagues have noticed?

      report
  17. Billy Field

    logged in via Facebook

    I saw something somewhere that this whole "Syria/Iran" "intervention" agenda is really about a "smokescreen" to divert attention from Israels "expansionist" & "refusal to settle with Palestinians" agenda.
    When one considered it seems to be the "Israel fronts" & lobbies that seem to be doing pushing for this war on Syria (as it was for the Iraq invasion) one must suspect this is why the USA is seemingly backing the Syria rebels....
    We need a settlement in Israel/Palestine foe everyone sakes...(except of course profiteers)....The USA can do this in 5mins by telling Israel it will stop "Aid" & do banking sanctions if they don't settle.....Lets move forward PLEASE....I suspect more money & benefit in trade than war for all!!

    report
    1. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Billy Field

      What a creepy comment.

      I was about to write another post on the creeping racism in Australian universities, following the ANU's international hate meet this week, and thought I would just quickly check out The Weekend Conversation email first for some light entertainment to steel the nerves.

      Sure enough. First thing I see is this nasty little titbit from the Goebbels' Centre For Peace And Conflict Studies.

      Muslims murdering Muslims on an industrial scale? Arabs committing crimes against…

      Read more
    2. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      Che could you explain more fully your point? You surely can't deny that Israel's establishment in the Middle East had a de-stablizing influence which has persisted ever since. Claims have been constantly made about Israel and its territorial ambitions and its influence upon US policy. Is it reasonable to ignore these claims in the light of the military engagements it has been involved in the past and surely you are not claiming that any criticism of Israel is racism. Israel is reported to have…

      Read more
    3. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Chris Saunders

      "You surely can't deny that Israel's establishment in the Middle East had a de-stablizing influence which has persisted ever since."

      Of course I deny this.

      If the Jews had been overwhelmed and failed in their national liberation, extermination completed as the Arab ruling classes promised, and Israel had not been established can you even begin to imagine what would have happened in its place?

      Think about it. Read some history.

      Israel is the ONLY stabilising influence in the Middle East.

      And that is the honest truth.

      "When one does not know, one does not usually answer. Other's silence surely means little else?"

      So you would have stayed silent while innocent Blacks were lynched in the South? Millions did.

      Ignorance?

      No excuse. Absolutely no excuse..

      report
    4. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      Ok, Israel’s establishment was stabilising. Can you explain that to begin with? “When one does not know, one does not usually answer”. In the context of a discussion I still stick by that. Ignorance is no excuse, how so? I can’t say what I would have done when innocent blacks were lynched in the south. I don’t even know what my forebears did when innocent blacks were killed in Australia. I know it is very easy to judge others, but as my imagination runs; when you are dealing with psychopaths face to face which many of these murderous people are: would it be survival or truth or compassion for others that is uppermost in my mind? I can envisage a few scenarios according to the fancied circumstance.

      report
    5. greg fullmoon

      being and doing

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      Che Gorrilla I think you are incorrect in your assertions. The project to create a Jewish and Zionist state is long running and was largely financed through the patronization of Rothschild in France.

      It is interesting to see them here and supporting the divisions that gave rise to the World Wars on the other hand. So they profit from the Nazi's and from the insertion of the Israeli state at the crossroads of the Eurasian continent.

      Elsewhere in this comment stream it is established the manifest…

      Read more
    6. Billy Field

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      Che notes "I was about to write another post on the creeping racism in Australian universities"....

      I suggest you also consider researching & writing about racism in Israel too?

      It might be elucidating.
      You might even consider if it is best for Israel to do a settlement for everybody's sake too.

      report
    7. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      ‘I was about to write another post on the creeping racism in Australian universities, following the ANU's international hate meet this week,’

      Hate meet? I guess that I must have fallen asleep, for I was there the entire time and I never heard any ‘hate’. More than a bit about international law and justice, though.

      Your rant sounds a lot like the demand in The Australian that the conference ought to have included pro Israel speakers, ignoring the fact that included were Jewish speakers…

      Read more
    8. greg fullmoon

      being and doing

      In reply to Billy Field

      Hi Billy this just across my desk is illuminating as to what is at work. I think all should have a look;

      http://www.24hgold.com/english/news-gold-silver-syria-pipeline-politics-opec--the-usdollar.aspx?article=4495755644G10020&redirect=false&contributor=Jim+Willie+CB

      and this is the March Hat Trick Letter referred to in the first link;

      http://news.goldseek.com/GoldenJackass/1364601600.php

      these paint a big canvas. Syria is critical to a lot, and understand what one's opposition to the Syria strike means; the realignment of the globe.

      The thing is that it is all part of a high stakes game. And the pieces all know there moves. We are not yet fully up with all the play. Here it is.

      report
    9. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Chris Saunders

      "surely you are not claiming that any criticism of Israel is racism."

      That commenters here are even talking about Israel and the Jews on a thread under an article about US policy on intervention in Syria is really all the proof of racism that is needed.

      A fuller reply to this furphy is in this open letter to the current president of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network.

      http://geofffff.blogspot.com.au/2013/06/open-letter-to-bishop-george-browning.html

      report
    10. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      "Your rant sounds a lot like the demand in The Australian that the conference ought to have included pro Israel speakers, ignoring the fact that included were Jewish speakers."

      More proof if it is hardly needed. That is actually an antisemitic comment.

      I'm not surprised you were at the racist conference hosted by the ANU. They put these roadshows on specifically for people like you. People like Falk certainly don't give a damn about the "Palestinians". For them it is all about something else entirely.

      http://geofffff.blogspot.com.au/2013/06/open-letter-to-bishop-george-browning.html

      report
    11. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to greg fullmoon

      "What is new in this? Enjoy your Succot, and your move out of the wilderness. The trick is to acknowledge the acceptance you received from the 19th century Palestinians and the treatment you meted out in return. Not much alters whilst we refuse the lessons of history."

      I was going to let this pass. There is a point of view that the racist nonsense that drips from this comment is best ignored. It is of course antisemitism in its classic form. The Jews are responsible for all the world's ills…

      Read more
    12. greg fullmoon

      being and doing

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      Being Semetic is speaking a Semetic tongue.

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

      To be anti Semetic is to be anti-anyone with such a language.

      The Jews are a much maligned grouping, whether religious or the disparate threads that make a social grouping, it's not race, at least not a single race to my mind.

      The Zionists on the other hand are a ruthless bunch who stoop to any level of low to further a separatist agenda.

      I fail to see how I can be accused in this light of being…

      Read more
    13. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      Che, I think I understand now what you are saying. So when you say racism, you mean it in the 1870’s-1940’s European meaning of the word Semitic which is specifically jewish religion and semitic race. “That commenters here are even talking about Israel and the Jews on a thread under an article about US policy on intervention in Syria is really all the proof of racism that is needed” I took the post you are referring to as asking (in part) why has the US failed to broker the peace between Israel and Palestine? There have been a number of US presidents to date who have tried and failed. I am not at all sure that people are putting that failure solely at Israel’s door, but possibly pointing to another example of the US’s failure at negotiation.

      report
    14. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to greg fullmoon

      "Being Semetic is speaking a Semetic tongue."

      You might sound more authoritative on the subject if you could spell the word.

      report
    15. greg fullmoon

      being and doing

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      Apologies and thanks for the positive critique. The Wiki spelled it correctly?

      Anything in regard to the content? Anything else..??

      Enjoy your Sunday Mr. Gorilla.

      report
    16. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to Chris Saunders

      Jews are not a race. Race has nothing to do with it. Antisemitsm ( a term first coined by a German antisemite because he deemed the then existing term, "Jew Hatred", as vulgar) on the other hand is a form of racism.

      It comes in many forms but it all gets down to the same thing. Some pedants and marginal racists (like Archbishop Tutu) can have a brain snap over the concept of Arab antisemitism. Call it what you like. Call it "Jew Hatred" if you want. It is still the same thing. You cannot define it out of existence by playing with words.

      report
    17. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to greg fullmoon

      Comment on content?

      " I note that the Israeli nuclear technician Mordecai Vanunu disclosed this, and suffered for his services to truth and public disclosure;"

      As the former honorary secretary of the Keep Mordecai Vanunu In Jail Forever Committee, I'm probably the wrong one to ask for comment.

      22 years?

      The bastard got off light.

      5 years for selling the photos without taking a deposit.

      5 years for following the girl to Rome.

      12 years for being a smug supercilious Anglican.

      report
    18. greg fullmoon

      being and doing

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      Lucky he's the only smug supercilious person about, otherwise we'd be getting showered with contempt.

      The fact that we have whistle blowers and secret leakers allows the public some insight into the games being played in their names. I support these characters.

      Hopefully we can put the nukes away?

      It all depends on how the USA accepts its ouster from centrality. Obviously the Israeli state will be playing a careful game here. The fact that it is joining in with the East's oil pipeline suggests they are operating with self interest in mind.

      Now it is just a matter of time till the toxic debt implosion weaves its magic.

      And to you my large hairy friend, peace. Like the Two of Swords in the Tarot ruled by Chokmah. 'equilibrium through change'

      report
    19. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      Yes, I know Jews are not a race. I just can’t pin down what you mean by racism and racist. It is you who called the word up and are bandying it around, but there appears to be no consistency to your use of the word. It is hardly worth pursuing the topic any longer.

      report
    20. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      Editors:
      As another commented pleaded, it is time we had an ignore button. That or a ‘troll’ button.
      Che; the so-called human rights activist; you are a fraud.

      ‘More proof if it is hardly needed. That is actually an antisemitic comment.’

      ‘Racist’, ‘anti-semitic’ ‘Israel the eternal victim’, the threatened, the only democracy in the M.E. — it is not a democracy, it falls at the first hurdle, that all citizens must be equal before the law — have long ago lost their sting, have…

      Read more
    21. Che Gorilla

      Human Rights Activist

      In reply to greg fullmoon

      They could have hired a Frenchman to chop off his head.

      report
    22. greg fullmoon

      being and doing

      In reply to Che Gorilla

      You don't do peace? Ah well.. I see you also don't like Jonathon Livingston Seagull.

      The same French folk that blew up the rainbow warrior? Seems that the socialist Hollande is more than happy to bomb the crap out of Syrian workers so a anti-nuke whistleblower won't prove too much of a tug on the conscience.

      Do Gorilla's have these? Or only for the folks in a tight quasi-tribal group..

      cheers, no doubt we'll try those swords out elsewhere.

      report
  18. mark delmege

    self employed

    This is a generally well argued piece by David Smith but two things stand out to me as being entirely wrong which undermines most of the intent of the article.
    The title
    'Obama’s Syria strategy: the war he doesn’t want
    and further down the assertion that
    'It is possible that Obama has reversed two years of profound reluctance to get involved in Syria'

    From what I know the US has been involved up to its neck in this from the start - perhaps well before hostilities even began. This is very…

    Read more
  19. Caroline Wright

    Retired Nurse Academic and Researcher

    I cannot agree with David assessment of Obama's initial reaction which was to go in and bomb Syria. It was only when pressure was brought to bear on him that he made the decision to put the Recommendation to Congress.

    report
  20. David Wolf

    logged in via Facebook

    What an enlightening conversation this is. So let me begin with the last, first. Given the evidence to the contrary supplied by GW Bush and incidents surrounding Ronald Reagan I am yet to be convinced that Obama or whoever fills the position of President of the USA decides on or wants anything more complex than lunch. While the USA political circus goes to great lengths to name him or her "Commander in Chief" and spends a lot of money in this enthralling TV show meant to mesmerise the population…

    Read more
    1. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to David Wolf

      I am in entire agreement, David.
      Two or three years ago this conversation would have been shut down.
      Dr Victoria Mason who convened the conference on ‘Economic, social and Cultural rights in the Occupied territories’, and the wider ‘Human Rights in Palestine’ project suffered harassment and abuse.
      Pressure was applied, unsuccessfully, on the ANU administration.
      Barham Bekhradnia was contracted by the World Bank to conduct a review of the governance of higher education in Palestine. He met…

      Read more
  21. Che Gorilla

    Human Rights Activist

    Commenting here is like dragging a sack of rotting fish heads across a beach at low tide.

    report
  22. Robert Attila

    Business Analyst

    Authored by Vladimir Putin, originally posted at The New York Times,

    A Plea For Caution From Russia

    Recent events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies.

    Relations between us have passed through different stages. We stood against each other during the cold war. But we were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together. The universal…

    Read more
  23. David Wolf

    logged in via Facebook

    I am convinced 100% that the Assad (Regime?) Administration did not use chemical weapons against its own people and had some govt General used them of his own volition he would have been arrested and very publically tried and sentenced for commiting murder against his own people and bringing the wrath of international public opinion down on his nation when Assad needs that public opinion on his side. I'm so sick and tired of Western propaganda that fails to provide a motive for the alleged crimes/actions in the belief that we are so stupid that we will believe an event occurred without cause, reason, or motive.

    report
    1. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to David Wolf

      If you can outrage your populace enough, make them angry for instance, you make them biddable. Tell them someone is killing women and children, tell them their leader is a conniving witch, and you’ve captured them into an avenging archetype and they will go along with whatever you say even to getting excited about blasting the perceived enemy out of existence; the fact that you in turn will be killing innocent women and children is hardly imagined for we would not do that, would we? Maybe, after Iraq, the US administration has done it once too often.

      report