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Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Eleven Reasons Why the US Should Not Attack Syria

Dear All,
We have come to the threshold of Reason and Morality, and human action in a situation where an allegation of chemical weapon was used by Syrian government against its own people. 
We are not yet really sure if truly the Syrian government or the Rebels were responsible for the use of chemical weapon against their own people.    The UN in its wisdom has done the right thing by asking experts to help unravel the truth whether chemical weapon had been used. And whether its use was responsible for the death of  hundreds or thousands of people including children who died in the suburb of Damascus over a week ago. 
The world is yet to know about the findings. Even when it is proven that chemical weapon had been used by the Syrian government: Is the UN ready to hold Assad regime accountable? Is the UN ready to use a military might to punish Assad government for violating its charter on the use of chemical weapon? 
On the other hand, if it were found that Assad administration,after all, did not use chemical weapon against its people, will Obama administration still have a moral justification to attack Syria? 
In my view, Obama administration should not be in such a terrible haste to attack Syria. As the Yoruba adage says, eko gbigbona 'fe owo suru, meaning, one who wants to drink hot pap needs patience. If he does not exercise some patience and he drinks it hot, he will eventually hurt himself. And he will be blamed for it. 
Let Reason prevail over emotion and military might for now. If the result of the UN experts indicates that the hand of Assad regime is not clean in the use of chemical weapon against its own people,  America should not hesitate to deal with Assad government as a deterrent to others. It is inhuman to use chemical weapon against anyone or nation.  
We need to blame those who first introduced chemical weapon for use during warfare knowing fully well of it's implications. The UN should as a matter of urgency make it mandatory for all countries with chemical weapon to sign the charter that forbids it use for any reason at all. 
We need peace and not chemical weapon. 
SO

Sent from my iPhone

On Sep 1, 2013, at 1:16 AM, ZALANGA SAMUEL <szalanga7994@msn.com> wrote:

This is a very polite way of telling people who are weak and vulnerable in the world to suck up their pain. God forbid but it seems like any situation can lead to the death of innocent people and the whole world will watch or just debate it. After thousands of years of reflecting on the Qu'ran, the Bible, Bhagavad Gita, and the Upanihads, this is what the world looks like to the vulnerable. It is a scary world if you happen to be even at the right place but at the wrong time. This is what the civilized world, erudite and enlightened people tell the vulnerable in the world. But see this excerpt from President John F. Kennedy's inaugural speech:


"To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required—not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich" (see: http://www.bartleby.com/124/pres56.html)

I do not know how this fits in the vision of American idealism today. I do not deny that there are good arguments people can put forward, legal and what not, but that still does not change the substantive lesson: and that is that in today's world, you can kill thousands, and if they are "surplus people"  people in the world will just debate it and at the end close their eyes, and turn their back on the people. Later they will start talking about human civilization and evolution that has resulted in the concept of human dignity and human rights. Whether the dignity and rights apply to all or some people, at some places, and some time is a fair question and the lives of the ordinary Syrians who are suffering for no fault of theirs is a good context to thrash out the answer to the question than doing so abstractly.

Samuel



From: toyinfalola@austin.utexas.edu
To: USAAfricaDialogue@googlegroups.com
Subject: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Eleven Reasons Why the US Should Not Attack Syria
Date: Sat, 31 Aug 2013 20:14:11 +0000


Eleven Reasons Why We Should Not Attack Syria

Saturday, 31 August 2013 12:53 By Sarah van Gelder, Yes! Magazine | News Analysis

  • font size decrease font size increase font size
As U.S. political and media leaders prepare for military strikes against Syria, the parallels to the lead-up to the war with Iraq should give us pause. Weapons of mass destruction, we are told, are being used by a cruel Middle Eastern despot against his own people. A military strike is inevitable, media voices say; we must respond with missiles and bombs. The arguments sound all too familiar.
Meanwhile, weapons inspectors from the United Nations are on the ground investigating evidence of chemical weapons. But U.S. and European leaders are looking at an immediate strike anyway—although Britain's Labor Party, still smarting from popular opposition to its leading role in the invasion of Iraq, has successfully pressed for a hold on military action until the results of the U.N. investigation are in.
There are a great many differences between circumstances in Syria and Iraq, of course. Nonetheless, critics warn that, much as it did in Iraq, a military incursion here could have disastrous consequences. Here are 11 reasons the United States should stay clear of military action:
1. We don't actually know who is behind the chemical weapons attack. An attack employing chemical weapons took place in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21 and killed 355 people, according to Doctors Without Borders . Obama administration officials say the attack was carried out by the Syrian regime, but Institute for Policy Studies analyst Phyllis Bennis points out we haven't actually been given evidence that this is the case. And, while it's unlikely that the opposition was behind the attack, NPR has pointed out that the rebels have an incentive to use such weapons to trigger outside intervention and end the stalemate they've been stuck in since late 2011.
2. A military strike would be illegal under the U.S. Constitution and the War Powers Resolution. U.S. military attacks can only be carried out by an act of Congress, unless there is national emergency created by a direct attack upon the United States. The fact that Congress has adjourned doesn't change that. "There is no provision in the Constitution or the War Powers Resolution for a 'recess war,'"says Robert Naiman, writer for Just Foreign Policy. If it was a true emergency, Congress could be called into session to pass a declaration of war.
3. It would violate international law, too. Syria has not attacked the United States, and there is no U.N. Security Council authorization for a strike on Syria. It wouldn't be the first time the United States has violated international law, but doing it again adds to a damaging precedent and contributes to a lawless world.
4. The American people oppose it. Sixty percent of Americans oppose intervention in Syria, according to a recent Reuters poll. Just nine percent support intervention. Even if the use of chemical weapons is proven, just 25 percent of Americans would support intervention.
5. Violence begets violence. According to Stephen Zunes, chair of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco, military interventions actually worsen and lengthen violence in the short term. "Countries whose dictatorships are overthrown by armed groups … are far more likely to turn into new dictatorships, often accompanied by ongoing violence and factionalism," Zunes says in an article in Foreign Policy in Focus. In the long term, he writes, interventions only reduce violence if they are impartial, which would certainly not be the case in any upcoming conflict in Syria.
6. Foreign intervention will deepen nationalist support for the Syrian Baath Party and the Assad regime. Zunes also reports that hundreds of members of the Syrian Baath Party, a key source of support for Assad, have left the party in outrage over the regime's killing of nonviolent protesters. But, he says, "few defections could be expected if foreigners suddenly attacked the country." U.S. intervention would play into the hands of the Syrian regime, triggering an outpouring of nationalist support for Damascus. The same thing happened in 1983-84 following U.S. Navy air attacks on Syrian positions in Lebanon, he says, and in 2008 after U.S. army commando raids in eastern Syria.
7. There are no logical targets. Bombing stockpiles of chemical weapons would be untenable, since many would release poison gases into densely populated neighborhoods, according to Zunes. And there are too many ways of delivering chemical weapons—planes, missiles, mortars, and so on—to eliminate all of them.
8. It will be impossible to control who benefits from Western interventionamong the rebels. The Pentagon estimates that there are between 800 and 1,200 rebel groups currently active in Syria, according to USA Today. Among them are ones with avowed affiliations with Al Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra, and other groups the United States considers to be terrorists. While the House Intelligence Committee has said it's ready to accept the risk of providing weapons to such groups, a look at the Iraq and Afghanistan shows how such plans can easily unravel.
9. Civilians will be killed and maimed. Policy analyst Phyllis Bennis points out the obvious: Strike with bombs and missiles, and, whatever your intent, civilians with no involvement in the conflict—including children and the elderly—will be harmed.
10. There is no apparent exit strategy. Once we are involved, it is unclear how we will extract ourselves from a massive, ugly civil conflict that could spread to involve nearby countries such as Lebanon, Israel, and Iran.
11. Yes, there is a better way. Tried, true, and boring though it may be, diplomacy often works. As Bennis told Democracy Now! this week, Syria has become a venue for a war between the United States and Russia, and between Iran and an allied United States and Israel.
What's needed, she says, are peace talks involving not only the parties who are fighting, but their backers as well. We need "all the forces on the two sides coming together to talk," she says, "rather than fighting to the last Syrian child, to resolve these wars."
This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source. 


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Toyin Falola
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Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Eleven Reasons Why the US Should Not Attack Syria

dear all
i am not convinced by any  of these reasons, though i esteem almost all the commentators cited. zunes, bennis etc. all fine people.
yet not one word seems to be devoted to a realistic strategy aimed at stopping the fighting, and especially in stopping the principal party responsible not just for the chemical weapons attack, which does indeed seem to have been assad's, but more importantly not a word about 120,000 dead. i find the failure to work at real interventions to stop the killing despicable, an abdication of moral authority.
we are not meaningfully divided into citizens of different countries; we are superficially divided into national citizens. what we are, at the base of things, is people all related to each other, descended ultimately from common sources, tied by our species to a common humanity. there is hatred and selfishness and viciousness; but there is also a strong propensity not to let us behave as dogs toward each other.
below are 11 reasons, ultimately specious reasons, to ignore the fighting and to ignore how a national govt is using its army to kill its opposition.
as if permitting the violence to continue is somehow not an act of violence, that is what is specious
ken

On 8/31/13 4:14 PM, Toyin Falola wrote:

Eleven Reasons Why We Should Not Attack Syria

Saturday, 31 August 2013 12:53 By Sarah van Gelder, Yes! Magazine | News Analysis

  • font size decrease font size increase font size

As U.S. political and media leaders prepare for military strikes against Syria, the parallels to the lead-up to the war with Iraq should give us pause. Weapons of mass destruction, we are told, are being used by a cruel Middle Eastern despot against his own people. A military strike is inevitable, media voices say; we must respond with missiles and bombs. The arguments sound all too familiar.

Meanwhile, weapons inspectors from the United Nations are on the ground investigating evidence of chemical weapons. But U.S. and European leaders are looking at an immediate strike anyway—although Britain's Labor Party, still smarting from popular opposition to its leading role in the invasion of Iraq, has successfully pressed for a hold on military action until the results of the U.N. investigation are in.

There are a great many differences between circumstances in Syria and Iraq, of course. Nonetheless, critics warn that, much as it did in Iraq, a military incursion here could have disastrous consequences. Here are 11 reasons the United States should stay clear of military action:

1. We don't actually know who is behind the chemical weapons attack. An attack employing chemical weapons took place in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21 and killed 355 people, according to Doctors Without Borders . Obama administration officials say the attack was carried out by the Syrian regime, but Institute for Policy Studies analyst Phyllis Bennis points out we haven't actually been given evidence that this is the case. And, while it's unlikely that the opposition was behind the attack, NPR has pointed out that the rebels have an incentive to use such weapons to trigger outside intervention and end the stalemate they've been stuck in since late 2011.

2. A military strike would be illegal under the U.S. Constitution and the War Powers Resolution. U.S. military attacks can only be carried out by an act of Congress, unless there is national emergency created by a direct attack upon the United States. The fact that Congress has adjourned doesn't change that. "There is no provision in the Constitution or the War Powers Resolution for a 'recess war,'"says Robert Naiman, writer for Just Foreign Policy. If it was a true emergency, Congress could be called into session to pass a declaration of war.

3. It would violate international law, too. Syria has not attacked the United States, and there is no U.N. Security Council authorization for a strike on Syria. It wouldn't be the first time the United States has violated international law, but doing it again adds to a damaging precedent and contributes to a lawless world.

4. The American people oppose it. Sixty percent of Americans oppose intervention in Syria, according to a recent Reuters poll. Just nine percent support intervention. Even if the use of chemical weapons is proven, just 25 percent of Americans would support intervention.

5. Violence begets violence. According to Stephen Zunes, chair of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco, military interventions actually worsen and lengthen violence in the short term. "Countries whose dictatorships are overthrown by armed groups … are far more likely to turn into new dictatorships, often accompanied by ongoing violence and factionalism," Zunes says in an article in Foreign Policy in Focus. In the long term, he writes, interventions only reduce violence if they are impartial, which would certainly not be the case in any upcoming conflict in Syria.

6. Foreign intervention will deepen nationalist support for the Syrian Baath Party and the Assad regime. Zunes also reports that hundreds of members of the Syrian Baath Party, a key source of support for Assad, have left the party in outrage over the regime's killing of nonviolent protesters. But, he says, "few defections could be expected if foreigners suddenly attacked the country." U.S. intervention would play into the hands of the Syrian regime, triggering an outpouring of nationalist support for Damascus. The same thing happened in 1983-84 following U.S. Navy air attacks on Syrian positions in Lebanon, he says, and in 2008 after U.S. army commando raids in eastern Syria.

7. There are no logical targets. Bombing stockpiles of chemical weapons would be untenable, since many would release poison gases into densely populated neighborhoods, according to Zunes. And there are too many ways of delivering chemical weapons—planes, missiles, mortars, and so on—to eliminate all of them.

8. It will be impossible to control who benefits from Western interventionamong the rebels. The Pentagon estimates that there are between 800 and 1,200 rebel groups currently active in Syria, according to USA Today. Among them are ones with avowed affiliations with Al Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra, and other groups the United States considers to be terrorists. While the House Intelligence Committee has said it's ready to accept the risk of providing weapons to such groups, a look at the Iraq and Afghanistan shows how such plans can easily unravel.

9. Civilians will be killed and maimed. Policy analyst Phyllis Bennis points out the obvious: Strike with bombs and missiles, and, whatever your intent, civilians with no involvement in the conflict—including children and the elderly—will be harmed.

10. There is no apparent exit strategy. Once we are involved, it is unclear how we will extract ourselves from a massive, ugly civil conflict that could spread to involve nearby countries such as Lebanon, Israel, and Iran.

11. Yes, there is a better way. Tried, true, and boring though it may be, diplomacy often works. As Bennis told Democracy Now! this week, Syria has become a venue for a war between the United States and Russia, and between Iran and an allied United States and Israel.

What's needed, she says, are peace talks involving not only the parties who are fighting, but their backers as well. We need "all the forces on the two sides coming together to talk," she says, "rather than fighting to the last Syrian child, to resolve these wars."

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source. 

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Toyin Falola
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