Tag Archives: Syrian civil war

Still waiting for Russia to get ‘blame’ for Assad atrocities

Donald Trump is correct to label Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad a heartless criminal.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also speaks wisely of the U.S. effort to rid the world of the Islamic State in Syria.

World leaders are applauding the president for launching the air strikes that hit military targets … even though the result of those strikes hasn’t dealt anything close to a crippling blow to Syria’s military capability.

I am waiting with bated breath for the president to hurl some angry public rhetoric at Assad’s benefactor, Russian President/goon Vladimir Putin. U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley at least has spoken about the Russian role in financing the Syrian government’s efforts to put down forces that have risen against the tyrannical Assad.

The president, however, needs to speak for the United States of America in condemning Russia’s complicity in the use of lethal gas by Assad’s forces against defenseless civilians. Dozens of people died in that horrifying attack, including several children. To witness the agony of those afflicted by the gas is to witness a major crime against humanity.

Assad must share most of the blame. But not all of it.

Russian military personnel have been actively engaged in this monstrous activity for years. They answer to Donald Trump’s pal Putin.

My patience is wearing out waiting for Trump to speak as forcefully about Vlad as he has about Assad.

How can Trump deny Syrian refugees?

Donald J. Trump expressed appropriate outrage over the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons against civilians — including children.

The president is right. Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. And I do support the decision to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles at military bases believed to be where the Syrians launched the chemical weapons against their fellow citizens.

However …

How does the president justify his decision to ban refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria because they happen to originate from a Muslim-majority nation?

His statement condemning the casualties inflicted on children seems to fly directly against his heartless decision to ban refugees.

How do you balance one against the other, Mr. President?

Blog is taking wing … so to speak

Syrian internally displaced people walk in the Atme camp, along the Turkish border in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, on March 19, 2013. The conflict in Syria between rebel forces and pro-government troops has killed at least 70,000 people, and forced more than one million Syrians to seek refuge abroad. AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC        (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

I don’t consider full-time blogging to be actual work.

It’s more like therapy for me. It keeps me engaged to the best of my ability, which I suppose depends on whether you agree with the opinions expressed in this forum.

So, when I decide to take a vacation, I like taking High Plains Blogger with me. Where I go with my wife, the laptop comes along and the blog keeps spewing out musings on this and/or that.

OK. So, here we go.

My wife, myself and the blog are getting set to take wing.

We’re heading soon for Germany and The Netherlands. We have friends in Bavaria — the pretty region of Germany — and in The Netherlands we intend to see. I’m going to get caught up with these folks, one of whom I met on a journalist field trip to Taipei, Taiwan in 2010, the others I met while traveling through Israel on a month-long Rotary International Group Study Exchange trip in 2009.

I have a couple of burning questions I’m going to ask people I meet during our stay in Western Europe.

*I want to know about the Middle East refugee situation in both countries. We keep hearing on this side of The Pond about the “flood” of refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria. What has been the impact of their arrival? Is it the “crisis” that we’ve been told it is? And what is the state of the nationalist fervor that appears to be building, particularly in Germany?

*The second question is a bit more straightforward. What’s the feeling in Europe about the state of the U.S. presidential election that’s going to pick up a serious head of steam. Particularly, what do the Europeans think of Donald J. Trump’s nomination by the Republican Party to be its candidate for president of the United States? I will do my level best to set my own bias aside as I glean the views of our German and Dutch hosts. Rest assured: We’ll talk also about Hillary Rodham Clinton.

There is likely to be some more local color I’d like to provide as well.

Neither my wife and I have been to Germany or The Netherlands — although we did stop once in Frankfurt, Germany to change planes en route home from Athens in 2001. I don’t count airport stops, you know?

I am anxious to see my friends. I also am anxious to enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of cultures that are much older than ours.

What’s more, I am anxious to obtain — to the extent I am able — a broader world view of the chaos that’s about to unfold in my own country as we make up our minds on who’s going to become the next Leader of the Free World.

Come to think of it, I might even ask Europeans whether they hold the U.S. president in such high regard.

Peace for Aylan?


Aylan Kurdi may become a symbol the world needs to remember.

He was 3 years old and was fleeing the devastation in Syria. He didn’t make it to safety. Aylan drowned when the boat carrying him and others apparently capsized and his body washed ashore in Turkey. He had been headed for one of the many islands of Greece that dot the Aegean Sea.

An essay by a doctoral candidate at American University makes a compelling case that Aylan’s death ought to signal to the warring sides that the time for peace really and truly is at hand.

Read the essay

Suzanne Ghais writes:  “The priority must be to find a peace plan that all major players can get behind, even if our favorite dogs don’t win. If Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the Europeans agree with us that (Syrian dictator Bashar) al-Assad should go, there will be a way to get him out. The exhausted Syrian government could not oppose such an overwhelming consensus for long.”

The Syrian civil war has killed hundreds of thousands of innocent victims. Many have died from terrible weapons deployed by the dictator’s military forces.

And as the world has seen, the victims too often are helpless children … just like Aylan.

How can the world continue to let this happen?


‘No doubt’ about chemical weapons

I’m hearing it already, the talk that compares the impending strike against Syria to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq and the faulty intelligence — some call it outright lying about it — that supposedly justified the toppling of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Let’s hold on a minute.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said this week there is no doubt, none, that Syrian government forces gassed civilians, including infants. President Obama says that he has no intention of getting into a ground war, that he would use airstrikes only to punish Syria for using the chemical weapons in violation of “international norms.”


How does that differ from a decade ago? Well, the Bush administration said it had intelligence confirming that Saddam Hussein had chemical weapons. President Bush’s military high command assembled an invasion force to enter the country, to occupy it and to get rid of the weapons. It turned out the weapons didn’t exist. U.S. forces eventually found Hussein hiding in a “spiderhole.” He was tried for crimes against humanity in an Iraqi court and hanged. But we stayed on, and on, and on — fighting to gain control of the country before handing it over to the Iraqi government.

It’s good to ask: Does anyone really believe the Obama administration, knowing what happened when it was learned that the intelligence gathered before the Iraq War was so bad, that it’s going to repeat that horrible mistake this time around? Is it going to risk the most intense worldwide condemnation imaginable if it isn’t certain that Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad’s forces used the chemicals on innocent civilians? I hardly think so.

The Iraq War was launched on false pretenses. The Syrian strikes — if they come — are certain to be based on much stronger evidence than we ever gathered before marching headlong into Iraq.