Accountability for Syria

I want to point out a few more things related to my previous post about the Syrian refugees. Things such as the lack of accountability within foreign governments for the actions and strikes they authorized and which have contributed to the severity of the situation in Syria.

Here’s a video put together by Hans Robling that talks about the numbers:

And here’s an article on the need for accountability and responsibility in the actions of those who hold positions of power, with a short quote from it:

In short, the Romans honored the man who held absolutely nothing back — who put all he was as stake in everything he did and said.

Conversely, the man with nothing to lose, who risked nothing in his speech and behavior, was considered to be literally shameless (that is, unable or unwilling to be shamed). A shameless man acted without the check of honor and was thus regarded as contemptible, dangerous, and unworthy of trust. His whole being was considered a vanity; as Roman writer Petronius put it, a man who would not submit himself to test and challenge became nothing more than a “balloon on legs, a walking bladder.”

Finally, here’s a brief timeline that shows the escalation of the conflict. Allied forces condemned Assad, then negotiated with him, then armed and helped the militants, then started bombing them. This horrible flip-flopping and side-switching only made the situation worse and ultimately led to the situation we now see in Syria, with over 12 million people who have been forced to leave their homes by the fighting.

Is it just me, or have the United States been meddling long enough in the Middle East? I’d love to find out at least one instance during the last 60-70 years when their meddling in that region of the world led to something good.

Some may say, but we needed to go in, they were using chemical weapons. Maybe they were, maybe they weren’t. False flag events have been used before to trigger wars. The main point here is that a stable regime was in place in the country, a regime where most people could live their lives in relative safety. Now, after foreigners meddled there, the country is in shambles and we have seen the uprising of yet another radical terrorist group who’s literally having a blast, killing people and blowing things up left and right.

So I say those countries who’ve meddled directly in Syria should be the ones now responsible for fixing the situation. Instead of the EU having to shoulder the burden of integrating Syrian refugees, the United States and the other countries who triggered this horrible situation in one way or another should do it. It’s high time we instituted a certain level of responsibility in international affairs. If you break it, you fix it.

I don’t want to hear a peep about the chance of putting a “democratic” regime in place in that country. Look how effed up the situation is in Iraq and Afghanistan, where allied coalitions brought “democracy” a few years ago. I mistrust the Arab Spring movement, I’m not so sure it’s genuine. I think it’s orchestrated. It’s time we all realized democracy can’t work everywhere. Some regions of the world are best led autocratically, and as long as most of the people are doing okay, we shouldn’t stick our noses in their business, even if that autocrat doesn’t want to play nice with us.

Right now, what the US and its allies in the strikes on Syria need to realize is that they’ve got a terrorist group on the loose there that they’ve helped arm and strengthen and more to the point, this terrorist group is recruiting new members right from Western Europe, so it’s using Westerners to fight Eastern conflicts. That’s very screwed up and the West is directly or indirectly (depending on how you want to look at it) responsible for it.

Finally, this stupid meddling has displaced over 12 million Syrians from their homes, has exposed them to countless dangers, both in their own countries and abroad, as they try to get to safe places, and has created yet more bad blood between the East and the West. This stuff will haunt us for generations to come, and it’s all thanks to irresponsible politicians who aren’t being held accountable for their actions. 


6 thoughts on “Accountability for Syria

  1. Raoul, I am somewhat shocked at your description of the events in Syria. Have you been watching too much Russia Today? The USA never bombed Assad. The civil war there started with an “Arab Spring-like” uprising for more democracy which was violently put down by the Assad government. The USA may have contemplated bombing Assad (as they and the Europeans had in Libya) but did not intervene, mainly because Assad was a Russian “client” and the Russians were very angry over losing their “client” Qaddafi in Libya. The Russians blocked any action at the UN level, armed Assad with sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles so he could shoot down any foreign aircraft, and through threats and bluster intimidated the West from intervening in any large way. HOWEVER, predominately Sunni Arab states like UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and even Turkey funded or assisted various insurrection groups because of their hatred for the minority Alawite Assad regime. Most of these Sunni states were not interested in promoting democracy there, only in getting rid of Assad. The USA, as indicated in the “timeline” you provided, waffled, hemmed and hawed, trying to come up with some democratic insurgency to support, but it has failed miserably. The most effective anti-Assad insurgency has turned out to be the so-called Islamic State, a Sunni movement initially supported by Gulf State money but now self-supporting through taxation in the territory it controls and oil sales. Yes, they are very effective users of social media to recruit foreign fighters to the conflict. Apparently, cutting people’s heads off on television has a certain fascination for young Muslims around the world. Finally, perhaps due to the IS beheadings and other atrocities in Syria and Iraq, Obama put together a coalition to start bombing the Islamic State. To suggest that these Coalition bombings targeted at “assets” in the Islamic State and in support of its opponents (Kurds, Iraqis) have caused the refugee crisis is pure Russian propaganda. Assad’s scorched earth tactics and the terror of the Islamic State are the cause of the refugee crisis.

    These are the facts as far as Syria is concerned. The USA and Europe can only be criticized there for doing nothing, while Russia has actively supported the Assad regime. There are even now reports that Putin is going to send Russian ground troops and the Russian Air Force to fight for the demoralized Assad regime. That Iraq was a disaster I will certainly agree with. One could even say that George Bush, Jr., was following your Roman dictum of being a “man who held absolutely nothing back — who put all he was at stake in everything he did and said” and look where that got us. The European Union nations were just as equivocal about the Syrian conflict as Obama was, so they are just as much at fault as he is. But their fault pales in comparison to those states who actively supported the Assad regime (Russia, Iran) and the various insurgencies there (the Gulf States). The Europeans are now reaping the harvest of their indifference to the Syrian conflict and their unwillingness to displease Putin there.

    The last thing I want to say is that the Syrian people just wanted what you and I have taken for granted: democracy. I am amazed when I read Westerners who engage in a “realpolitik” attitude of “better the devil we know” (Qaddafi, Assad) and reject the legitimate aspirations of people yearning for democracy. Isn’t that yearning the ultimate flattery for the USA and the West? We supported these aspirations in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya with, I admit, poor results. Egypt “terminated” its democratic experiment, Libya is in chaos, only Tunisia has stabilized its democracy. However, none of these Arab Spring uprisings were fomented by the West, these were legitimate democratic movements that started within countries ruled by dictatorships. In my opinion, we have an obligation to support democracy wherever it arises. Syria was such a place and we did nothing and now the Europeans (because they are geographically closer) have to deal with the consequences. Good luck.

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    1. Stuart, I don’t watch Russia Today. I don’t watch much TV, period. You’re right, there was a mistake in my understanding of the situation: I thought the US and allied forces had bombed Assad’s regime, but they only bombed the militants. At any rate, foreigners dropped bombs on Syria, each of them motivated by their own agenda, as you pointed out in your comment. I modified the article accordingly.

      I think you have a somewhat naive understanding of what the US Is trying to do abroad. They have a history of destabilizing regimes in countries they cannot work with. It’s not pretty but it’s the legacy of the CIA. Yes, they try to institute democratic regimes in the countries they occupy but sadly they always manage to put in place some pretty corrupt people who end up stealing from those countries and their people and who fail miserabily at maintaining law and order.

      Last but not least, I mistrust the Arab Spring movement. Its overt motivation sounds nice but I doubt that behind the scenes it carries the same ideals. And we have no obligation to support democracy where it rises. We do not. We are not the police of the world. What we have an obligation to do is to support democracy at home. I’d like for once to see the US fix its internal problems (which are legion) before it goes and tries to fix the world. You know the old adage from the Bible? “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” It’s more or less to the point here.

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      1. Raoul, historically, yes, the USA (and other powers too) have had a history of destabilizing regimes they don’t like. The role of the CIA is by design clandestine, and barring Congressional investigations, rarely do we get a real look at what they are up to. But to just assume the absolute worst about the USA and to assume all bad outcomes are the result of US meddling is also naive. You have in effect conceded the world stage to actors like Vladimir Putin and the Iranian Mullahs who have far worse designs than spreading democracy. Yes, we can stop being the policeman of the world (a favorite slogan of the Left). Obama deserves much criticism, but even the most anti-American anti-American must concede that he has broken with this historical pattern, for instance, choosing to negotiate with Iran rather than bombing it.

        The Arab Spring uprisings have absolutely no earmarks of American meddling or CIA activity. Obama was very hesitant about abandoning our “friend” Mubarak and very apprehensive about embracing Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood that immediately won the democratic elections there. The murder of the American ambassador in Libya hardly indicates any effective CIA intelligence capacity in that chaotic region. The uprising in Syria against Assad was consistent with numerous uprisings against the Assad family in the past which were also ruthlessly put down.

        The USA and the Coalition didn’t start bombing the Islamic State until late in the game when the IS forces were already chasing religious minorities up mountains and knocking on Turkey’s door. Obama waited and waited before finally acting. By then, there were already millions of Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.

        Yes, if you want, the USA can become isolationist again, concentrate on its own problems and just let the world go to hell. But don’t come complaining to us when Europe is overrun by refugees from world conflicts.

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        1. Stuart, you’re falling right in line with the rhetoric of the right.

          Let me point out a few things: (1) I’m still an American, (2) I’m neither Democrat nor Republican, (3) You accuse me of embracing the left and also of criticizing Obama — how does that work? and (4) I don’t assume the worst about the USA.

          One of the silly conclusions you draw is that if we stop intervening with war actions in the Middle East, we concede the world stage to Putin or the mullahs. Really? Because the only actions we can take there are war actions? Well then, the Iran nuclear deal is meaningless, because it doesn’t involve acts of war. But yet you praised it so much in your comment. Does your logic make sense here?

          The Arab Spring has no earmarks of CIA activity you say… And you would know this because you’re in the CIA, right? Or in the State Department? Privy to executive briefings, are you?

          If the uprising in Syria against Assad was consistent with other uprising in the past, it would have been put down ruthlessly once more. It wasn’t, for one thing, because the rebels got weapons from the US. Because McCain went there and vouched for them and said they’re “good guys”.

          I love the language in your last paragraph: “don’t come complaining to us…” May I remind you I’m still part of the “us”, or rather the US and I have the right to complain, as a citizen of that country.

          What you fail to realize is that none of these events in the Middle East are isolated. That whole region is permeated by anti-US sentiments. There’s a lot of resentment against foreign interference. And even if the US isn’t malicious in its purposes there, even if it really wants to institute democratic governments, it does not understand that region well enough to put through meaningful, permanent changes. Instead, it bungles up these things and creates even more animosity toward it and the West.

          The Arabs may hate each other internally but there’s one thing they manage to come together on: their hatred of the West. When properly fomented, religiously, that hatred can be put to some pretty nasty use, as we’re seeing now.

          What I’m trying to say in my post is that if you look at their history, at their religion, you’ll see that they do best under semi-autocratic regimes with moderate policies. Whenever they have those, they prosper. And if the West doesn’t step on their toes, they do okay. So I wish for once instead of fanning the flames of war through bad mingling, they focused on helping them get those kinds of regimes there, or even better, left them alone to their own devices.

          You know what the US and Europe should be focusing on? Taking care of radical Muslim groups within their own borders. ISIS was manned partially by US and EU citizens, and some of those murdering asses have returned to the US and the EU. Some are standing trial, some aren’t, because their activities abroad aren’t known well enough. Western intelligence should be focusing on those hot beds of hatred and crime. The locations of these radical communities are known. The identities of their members are known. Why isn’t more focus put on this, everywhere in the West? There are now no-go zones for non-Muslims in Western countries, because they’ll be attacked and assaulted as they walk or drive through those neighborhoods. This is happening IN WESTERN COUNTRIES. Why isn’t this dealt with before we go to the Middle East to stir up more trouble?

          Finally, let’s not continue this discussion. I think we’ve talked enough about the subject.

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          1. Raoul, I really didn’t feel you were a leftist, that’s why I said I was shocked. However, I feel you should know whose rhetoric you are using. Just yesterday, Sahra Wagenknecht, the Deputy Chair of “The Left Party” in Germany, said Germany should ask America to pay for the refugees “because America is the country most responsible for the refugee crisis.” Is that really the company you want to keep? When I said “don’t come running to us,” I was treating you as a European, as someone who lives in Romania. I happen to have both American and European citizenship and I feel allegiances to both regions. Having lived overseas in Europe and now in Japan since the 1997, I think I have gained an outside perspective and given up the blind patriotism of my youth. I have voted for Obama twice and nothing boils my blood more than the economic, religious and war-mongering antics of the Republicans.

            I am disappointed in your assertion that I advocate “intervening with war actions in the Middle East” because I never said that. I tried to say that if you assume America is always the bad guy and responsible for all the bad in the world, you are making it much easier for the real bad guys like Vladimir Putin and the Mullahs in Iran, both of whom are supporting Bashar Assad with weapons and/or mercenaries. It looks like Putin is getting ready to “intervene with a war action” in Syria as we speak.

            That is why I defended Obama as someone who had broken with the past tendency of America to go in with guns blazing whenever there is a problem. He has withdrawn troops from Iraq, reduced troops in Afghanistan dramatically, and as I said, even negotiated a nuclear treaty with the Mullahs in Iran. Yes, he did participate in overthrowing Qaddafi in Libya when it looked like Qaddafi was going to commit a bloodbath in Benghazi. I think the problems there contributed to his reluctance to undertake anything to help the Syrians when they had their uprising. Yes, Bashar Assad’s father Hafez Assad massacred 20,000 Sunnis in 1982 in Hama where the Muslim Brotherhood had started an uprising. Wow, there’s that Muslim Brotherhood again. They were the greatest beneficiaries of the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. See any patterns there, or do you think America controls the Muslim Brotherhood? As I said before, one doesn’t have to be a CIA operative, State Department employee or privy to executive briefings to see the stupidity of toppling Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, our best “asset” in the Middle East who had signed a peace treaty with Israel and to whom we were paying billions of dollars in foreign aid every year. That alone should prove we had nothing to do with the Arab Spring.

            Finally, I want to comment on your rather elitist attitude on who deserves to live in democracy and who tends “to do best under semi-autocratic regimes with moderate policies.” Need I remind you that people once said the Germans and Japanese were incapable of living in a democracy and look at them today.

            I do agree with you that the USA and Europe need to do more to watch over their home-grown terrorists. It isn’t helped when Europeans squeal “bloody murder” when the NSA monitors Internet traffic.

            Feel free to delete this comment if you want the last word. I only took the trouble to answer you because I care what you think. I enjoy all your blogs and will continue to do so.

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