The Syrian conflict

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IpseDixit

Re: The Syrian conflict

Postby IpseDixit » 2013-09-07, 8:26

Marah wrote:They may value stability and secularism more than a rebellion that may make it worse for the country.


Yeah but to me it seems a weak argument. Revolutions bring instability, that's true. But revolutions are not eternal, and I really don't think that we should legitimize a regime and those who fight for it by saying that they're just seeking to keep stability.

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Re: The Syrian conflict

Postby language learner » 2013-09-07, 9:25

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Re: The Syrian conflict

Postby Ludwig Whitby » 2013-09-07, 9:45

IpseDixit wrote:
There are/have been people who fight/have fought for freedom in their country. Full stop. Like Partisans in Europe during WW2. Of course they themselves wanted to enjoy the freedom they were fighting for but you cannot say there were fighting only for their own freedoms.

Sure I can. The Partisans in Yugoslavia sure didn't fight for the freedom of the bourgeois class. They killed and arrested people, who were, according to me, innocent. According to them, they were either traitors of the national cause, or enemies in their class struggle.

IpseDixit wrote:If you fight for a regime, you cannot really call yourself a free man, so I really don't understand it when you say that Assad's militants are freedom fighters too. What kind of newspeak is that?

Why do you say Assad's militants? They are soldiers of the Syrian army. The other guys are militants.

I really don't understand what you mean by your first sentence. Everyone is fighting for a regime. The rebels want to change the government and create a new regime.

And yes I can say that Assad's soldiers think of themselves as those who are defending the freedom and independence of their country from the western imperialists and their allies: the terrorist hordes, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
IpseDixit wrote:Moreover, it may be difficult to give a pinpoint definition of freedom, but it is not that difficult to give a general political definition of the term.

It is very difficult to give a general political definition of the term. If you disagree, try.

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Re: The Syrian conflict

Postby md0 » 2013-09-07, 10:57

Sometimes I almost admire people who seem to have such easy time taking sides in a conflict (not necessarily a military conflict).
If not wanting to kill peoples for any cause is not a good argument, then maybe I don't have any better.

As I said, let those who honestly choose to fight, fight. Our priority should be getting the people who don't want to join either army and the civilians flee to safety. Asking me to choose between a diverse group of killers and an organised group of killers is an idiotic question.

Also: Bloodless revolutions existed. You don't have to kill civilians to throw out a dictator.
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Re: The Syrian conflict

Postby Babelfish » 2013-09-07, 11:24

linguoboy wrote:
Babelfish wrote:Using white phosphorous is legal, for illumination purposes (in flares).

So what was the IDF trying to "illuminate" in on the morning of January 15, 2009 when they struck the UN headquarters in Gaza with white phosphorus shells?

What are you, some kind of walking encyclopaedia for alleged war crimes? I can search Google too, and find out that A. White phosphorous is also used for smoke-masking (sorry, my bad) and B. The Red Cross didn't find evidence of unlawful use of white phosphorous in the Gaza conflict.

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Re: The Syrian conflict

Postby Babelfish » 2013-09-07, 11:26

азъбукывѣдѣ wrote:
Babelfish wrote:Using white phosphorous is legal, for illumination purposes (in flares)
And is it legal using it for genocide?
No.
Now please kindly explain what "genocide" you're talking about. Or is it just standard Internet hate-talk?

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Re: The Syrian conflict

Postby Ludwig Whitby » 2013-09-07, 11:51

Babelfish wrote:
linguoboy wrote:
Babelfish wrote:Using white phosphorous is legal, for illumination purposes (in flares).

So what was the IDF trying to "illuminate" in on the morning of January 15, 2009 when they struck the UN headquarters in Gaza with white phosphorus shells?

What are you, some kind of walking encyclopaedia for alleged war crimes? I can search Google too, and find out that A. White phosphorous is also used for smoke-masking (sorry, my bad) and B. The Red Cross didn't find evidence of unlawful use of white phosphorous in the Gaza conflict.

http://www.hrw.org/reports/2009/03/25/rain-fire
To be fair, I only read the press release, not the whole report.

They even have a video about it:
http://www.hrw.org/en/video/2009/03/25/ ... horus-gaza

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Re: The Syrian conflict

Postby Babelfish » 2013-09-07, 11:53

IpseDixit wrote:Nothing else could better encapsulate my opinion. Why did we get so upset by the use of chemical weapons only? Why not being outraged by the whole situation?
The irony is scorching, but I think there are good answers for it (though perhaps not satisfying). The international community* tries to abide by some rules in the conduct of war so as not to make it more horrible than it already is; this is pretty much what the Geneva Conventions are about. One of these rules is not to use WMD. In the case of Syria, the death toll is about 100,000 during the last couple of years :( but using chemical weapons freely would have allowed Assad to kill 100,000 in a couple of days; also, their indiscriminate nature makes them mainly "useful" for killing civilians, which is another no-no.

* or at least, parts of it try to abide by the rules, or sometimes try to pretend abiding by them... well you know what I mean, I hope.

IpseDixit wrote:Moreover (and this is something I've already asked on this forum):

Why did we intervene in Lybia almost straight away (we didn't really wait for chemical weapons to be used) whereas we're considering the idea of intervening in Syria after 2 years and only if the alleged use of chemical weapons is confirmed?
Good question for Europe, I'd say. There is probably no "good" (i.e. ethical) reason, just political and economical ones (Lybia has oil...). Nobody intervened in the civil unrest in Iran, nobody seems to have given a damn about the decade-long civil war in Algeria which also claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people (estimated), but look how much focus the Israeli-Palestinian conflict gets, in which IIRC about 60,000 people have been killed during more than 60 years.

... F*ck, I wish there was something substantial we could do. Like during the genocide in Darfur (another case where the international community didn't do anything) I would have liked it so much if Israel just sent a few fighters to bomb the hell out of some Janjaweed camps. But Israel attacking one faction in an Arab country would probably just increase support for it. Seems the best we can do for now is keep providing medical care for the occasional Syrian who gets in here across the border.
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Re: The Syrian conflict

Postby Babelfish » 2013-09-07, 12:07

Ludwig Whitby wrote:
Babelfish wrote:
linguoboy wrote:
Babelfish wrote:Using white phosphorous is legal, for illumination purposes (in flares).

So what was the IDF trying to "illuminate" in on the morning of January 15, 2009 when they struck the UN headquarters in Gaza with white phosphorus shells?

What are you, some kind of walking encyclopaedia for alleged war crimes? I can search Google too, and find out that A. White phosphorous is also used for smoke-masking (sorry, my bad) and B. The Red Cross didn't find evidence of unlawful use of white phosphorous in the Gaza conflict.

http://www.hrw.org/reports/2009/03/25/rain-fire
To be fair, I only read the press release, not the whole report.

They even have a video about it:
http://www.hrw.org/en/video/2009/03/25/ ... horus-gaza

I read part of the report, the question seems to lie in the grey area of whether the use of smoke munitions was legal or not in the places and times where it was used. HRW apparently say no - leaving of course no room for mistake or internal miscommunication in the IDF - while the ICRC don't. Can we get back to Syria maybe?

IpseDixit

Re: The Syrian conflict

Postby IpseDixit » 2013-09-07, 12:09

Babelfish: I guess you're right on everything you said.

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Re: The Syrian conflict

Postby Ludwig Whitby » 2013-09-07, 12:18

Babelfish wrote:
Ludwig Whitby wrote:
Babelfish wrote:
linguoboy wrote:
Babelfish wrote:Using white phosphorous is legal, for illumination purposes (in flares).

So what was the IDF trying to "illuminate" in on the morning of January 15, 2009 when they struck the UN headquarters in Gaza with white phosphorus shells?

What are you, some kind of walking encyclopaedia for alleged war crimes? I can search Google too, and find out that A. White phosphorous is also used for smoke-masking (sorry, my bad) and B. The Red Cross didn't find evidence of unlawful use of white phosphorous in the Gaza conflict.

http://www.hrw.org/reports/2009/03/25/rain-fire
To be fair, I only read the press release, not the whole report.

They even have a video about it:
http://www.hrw.org/en/video/2009/03/25/ ... horus-gaza

I read part of the report, the question seems to lie in the grey area of whether the use of smoke munitions was legal or not in the places and times where it was used. HRW apparently say no - leaving of course no room for mistake or internal miscommunication in the IDF - while the ICRC don't. Can we get back to Syria maybe?

No, this is very relevant to Syria. White phosphorus shouldn't be used in civilian areas and shouldn't be used as a weapon. Israel and USA did both and that makes them unable to claim that they are trying to make war a bit less horrible.

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Re: The Syrian conflict

Postby Babelfish » 2013-09-07, 12:29

I didn't see a claim it was used as a weapon (at least not in the Gaza case), and in fact - where has it been used by the USA?
Also, it's not a chemical weapon per se and certainly not a WMD. Using a smokescreen which as a side effect may harm people is not the same as using Sarin gas, the only use of which is to harm people as much as possible.
IpseDixit wrote:Babelfish: I guess you're right on everything you said.
Thanks I guess :lol:

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Re: The Syrian conflict

Postby Marah » 2013-09-07, 12:36

Babelfish wrote:I
Also, it's not a chemical weapon per se and certainly not a WMD. Using a smokescreen which as a side effect may harm people is not the same as using Sarin gas, the only use of which is to harm people as much as possible.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4441902.stm
If particles of ignited white phosphorus land on a person's skin, they can continue to burn right through flesh to the bone.
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Re: The Syrian conflict

Postby Ludwig Whitby » 2013-09-07, 12:38

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/4440664.stm

Claiming that it isn't a chemical weapon, but merely an incendiary weapon is an argument that a person whose arm is burning all the way to the bone would probably not understand.


As far as the Gaza case is concerned, I really don't know what was intended, but the end result is burned civilians. Please begin making war a bit less horrible by forcing your own government to use smoke and flair grenades that aren't capable of harming civilians.

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Re: The Syrian conflict

Postby mōdgethanc » 2013-09-07, 16:46

White phosphorus is nasty stuff, but I'm not sure if it can kill hundreds of people in a single day.

Getting back to the Libya analogy, I used to think it was valid, but not anymore. In Libya the aim was allegedly to protect civilians, but also to overthrow Gaddafi without having to do the dirty work ourselves. Syria isn't like Libya because it's not homogeneous and the conflict is highly sectarian in nature. It has the potential to be very messy and drag on for years if not decades, turning into another Lebanon (or Iraq).
meidei wrote:Also: Bloodless revolutions existed. You don't have to kill civilians to throw out a dictator.
No, but once the Syrian army started opening fire on the protesters, what else were they going to do? People have a right to defend themselves.

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Re: The Syrian conflict

Postby linguoboy » 2013-09-07, 18:39

Babelfish wrote:What are you, some kind of walking encyclopaedia for alleged war crimes? I can search Google too, and find out that A. White phosphorous is also used for smoke-masking (sorry, my bad)

How convenient is it to have a "legitimate" excuse for using white phosphorus regardless of the circumstances? If it's dark outside, then the force were simply trying to illuminate the area. If it's bright outside, they were trying to mask it (and not, you know, burn it to the ground). Any casualties (human or otherwise) are simply an inadvertent consequence.
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Re: The Syrian conflict

Postby Yasna » 2013-09-07, 20:19

I think it's a great thing that Obama asked the Congress to vote on his Syria proposal. It may leave him in a weak position if it gets voted down, but it's long overdue that the authority of the president to make war be curtailed. And bombarding a country for a couple days is most certainly an act of war, even if you believe it's justified in this case.
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Re: The Syrian conflict

Postby md0 » 2013-09-08, 13:30

No, but once the Syrian army started opening fire on the protesters, what else were they going to do? People have a right to defend themselves.


Yes, I am not claiming that you can always avoid it.
All my concerns are about those who do not wish to be in the crossfire. People with families they want to sent to safety, and people who don't want to take sides because none seems right to them, and people who don't want to kill their friends who happen to be in the other side, and finally, people who were conscripted in the armies without having a choice.
The rest, can fight all they want since it's their informed decision (well, to some degree. More informed than those conscripted at least).

On that base, I believe that all interventions in Syria are humanitarian, not military. As far as I know, the Kingdom of Jordan has open borders with Syria for refugees, and Sweden promised to offer asylum to refugees from Syria for as long as the war is going on. Now, if only bigoted Cyprus would open its borders to refugees being the closest EU country to Syria, and if the rest of EU would agree to share the load of providing humanitarian aid...
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IpseDixit

Re: The Syrian conflict

Postby IpseDixit » 2013-09-08, 15:56

@meidei, ludwing: first of all I just said that IF rebels are really fighting for freedom and democracy then their killings (of the supporters of Assad) are much more justifiable than the killings commited by Assad's soldiers. But this is not something that I take for guaranteed. It was just a theoretical guesswork, I know that reality is not so easy and manichaean.

But if it's true that defending one side to the hilt would be a bit naive, it's also equally naive to assert that killing people in a revolution is flat-out wrong, without ifs and buts. And bloodless revolutions are just a miniscule minority of all the revolutions. The reality is that violence is unluckily needed in most of the cases.

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Re: The Syrian conflict

Postby Yasna » 2013-09-10, 1:44

Well this is an interesting turn of events. A possible solution to the crisis was found almost by accident.
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