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Thu Aug 29, 2013, 10:02 AM

"Give peace a chance. Give diplomacy a chance. Stop acting and start talking."

As Strikes on Syria Loom, Is U.S. Ignoring a Diplomatic Track That Could Prevent More Violence?

http://www.democracynow.org/2013/8/28/as_strikes_on_syria_loom_is

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Meanwhile, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said a U.N. team investigating the alleged chemical attack must be given time to establish the facts about what happened last week when hundreds of civilians were killed on the outskirts of Damascus. Ban said, quote, "Give peace a chance. Give diplomacy a chance. Stop acting and start talking."

~~~snip~~~

PHYLLIS BENNIS: It’s certainly possible. Anything is possible. It’s certainly possible the regime used these weapons. It’s also possible that part of the rebels did. We know that some of the rebel armed forces came from defectors. We have no idea whether those defectors included some defectors that might have been involved in Syria’s long-standing chemical weapons program. We also know that some of the rebels are close to al-Qaeda organizations. The Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Nusra Front, has claimed its alliance with al-Qaeda. And the idea that al-Qaeda forces may have access to these weapons is certainly a frightening but very realistic possibility. The problem is, we don’t know. And that’s why the U.N. inspection initially is so important to determine what the weapons were, how they were used, where they were used. The next step then is to determine who used them. That remains a mystery right now. Whoever used them should be brought up on charges in the International Criminal Court and face the harshest punishments available to the international community.


The question of what is the alternative to military strikes starts with diplomacy. It starts with talking. The talks that were scheduled between the U.S. and Russia, designed to try again to create the so-called Geneva II peace conference, is more important now than ever. There have been 100,000 Syrians killed, between military and civilians. Millions have been forced from their homes. And the supporters of the two sides—because this is now clearly a civil war, a devastating civil war, that has become part of really five wars in Syria. There’s a sectarian war. There’s a regional war for power. There’s a war between the U.S. and Russia. There’s a war between the U.S. and Israel and Iran. All of these wars are being fought to the last Syrian. So what’s needed is a set of peace talks. Call it Geneva II. Call it whatever you want. Call it broccoli. Just get those talks started so that you have not only the parties, but their backers. You have the U.S. and Russia, and you have Iran and Saudi Arabia, and you have Iraq and Kuwait. You have all the forces on the two sides coming together to talk about this, rather than fighting to the last Syrian child, to resolve these wars.


I'd prefer to see this calmed down rather than ratcheted up.

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Response to suffragette (Original post)

Thu Aug 29, 2013, 10:40 AM

1. That's nice and all, but it doesn't solve the issue at hand. Did Assad use chem weapons, and if so,

do we verbally condemn it or do something about it militarily? It's not really a diplomatic issue.

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Response to TwilightGardener (Reply #1)

Thu Aug 29, 2013, 10:46 AM

2. Its entirely a diplomatic issue

Even if Obama orders cruise missile diplomacy, its still "diplomacy".

And the chorus of greedy warmongers in the press say breathlessly that US CREDIBILITY is on the line! We gotta teach him a lesson, since "we" are the worlds policemen, right?

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Response to bobduca (Reply #2)

Thu Aug 29, 2013, 10:52 AM

3. The Syrian civil war is a diplomatic issue. But WMD use, as is apparent there, is a deed

already done. There's nothing to talk about or negotiate--just have to find facts, assign blame, and decide how to respond. I'd rather the response come with UN support or at least a large international consensus, but we'll have to see what happens.

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Response to TwilightGardener (Reply #3)

Thu Aug 29, 2013, 11:00 AM

4. Security Council won't approve any action, regardless of outcome of UN report

re: WMD
I think its important to call the sarin gas attack a chemical weapons attack, and to avoid the WMD term unless you are speaking inclusively of Nuclear and Biological attacks. That imprecision was used by Bush to maximize the scare effect

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Response to bobduca (Reply #4)

Thu Aug 29, 2013, 11:09 AM

5. No, Russia and China will oppose, but the weapons inspectors might help decide the issue

decisively enough to support a response outside the UN (or will put a damper on any action). I lump chem weapons in with WMD because it's shorter than typing chemical weapons every time.

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Response to TwilightGardener (Reply #1)

Fri Aug 30, 2013, 10:19 AM

6. It's not about being nice. It's about shifting our responses away from collaborating in more harm

And unintended consequences to work for outcomes that don't begin with, then engender more violence.

I keep thinking to other interactions with Syria. We collaborated with them in the past to render accused people there who were then tortured.

Remember Maher Arar?

Outsourcing Torture
The Secret History of America’s “Extraordinary Rendition” Program

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/0208-13.htm

Published on Tuesday, February 8, 2005 by The New Yorker

On January 27th, President Bush, in an interview with the Times, assured the world that “torture is never acceptable, nor do we hand over people to countries that do torture.” Maher Arar, a Canadian engineer who was born in Syria, was surprised to learn of Bush’s statement. Two and a half years ago, American officials, suspecting Arar of being a terrorist, apprehended him in New York and sent him back to Syria, where he endured months of brutal interrogation, including torture. When Arar described his experience in a phone interview recently, he invoked an Arabic expression. The pain was so unbearable, he said, that “you forget the milk that you have been fed from the breast of your mother.”


Maher Arar: My Rendition & Torture in Syrian Prison Highlights U.S. Reliance on Syria as an Ally

http://www.democracynow.org/2011/6/13/maher_arar_my_rendition_torture_in

MONDAY, JUNE 13, 2011
As Syria continues its brutal crackdown on demonstrators, we speak to a Canadian citizen who was repeatedly tortured by Syrian authorities after he was rendered to Syria by the United States in 2002. Maher Arar was seized at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport in September 2002 and sent to Syria, where he was tortured and interrogated in a tiny underground cell for nearly a year. He now works as a human rights advocate in Canada. “The cooperation with the Syrian government, as well as other dictatorships in the Middle East post-9/11, gave some kind of legitimacy to those dictatorships,” says Arar. He calls on the United States and the United Nations to declare the Syrian regime illegitimate and refer the matter to the International Criminal Court.



We only know about what happened to him because his wife did not give up and kept at the Canadian government to get him released.

What was gained from what the United States, in the hurry to do 'something' about terrorism did to Arar, and unknown numbers of others?
What was lost?
And what message did it send to regimes like Syria, that we would collaborate with them in such lawless brutality and signal that it's ok for nations to go against international conventions if they think it's in their best interest.

Now we seem on the brink of intervening militarily, and perhaps even by ourselves, again in a place with many factions, some of which we currently consider enemies, ready to use any means to attack and ready to pounce on any real or perceived weakness of the other sides. Who do we help by this? Which faction(s) rise to power and what will they do once they gain it? How many people will still be subject to the violence from one side or another?

Why not turn to Camp David, to International Court, to the U.N. ? Why not try to use legal, just and yes, all the diplomatic means possible rather continue to escalate the violence?

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Response to suffragette (Original post)

Sun Sep 1, 2013, 04:37 PM

7. "Jimmy Carter calls for Syria peace summit"

http://www.politico.com/story/2013/08/jimmy-carter-syria-peace-summit-96087.html


In a statement Friday from the Carter Center, the former president said that the U.N. investigation into possible chemical weapons attacks in Syria is under way and urged against action in the country without U.N. support.


“It is imperative to determine the facts of the attack and present them to the public. Those responsible for the use of chemical weapons must bear personal responsibility,” Carter said in the statement. “The chemical attack should be a catalyst for redoubling efforts to convene a peace conference, to end hostilities, and urgently to find a political solution.”

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