Saturday, August 24, 2013

Staying Quiet

Trey Smith

While I've written a lot about NSA surveillance and US economic issues this summer, there is one current major story -- the Civil War in Syria -- that I haven't touched on at all. The chief reason I have avoided discussing Syria is that it is near impossible to know what is truly going on and who are the good guys and bad guys.

Take, for example, the recent report that chemical weapons were used on civilians. The rebels accuse the Assad government of employing such weapons, while the Assad government says it was the rebels doing. All the while, I haven't seen any confirmation from independent outside sources that chemical agents genuinely were used. So, where does that leave a person?

The accusations by the rebels could well be true. It is just as possible, however, that the chemical agents were utilized by the rebels as a means to try manipulate the nations of the world to come to their aid. And it is just as possible that it's just a made-up bit of propaganda to try to influence world opinion one way or the other.

The only part of this equation that I don't understand is why so many people view the possible use of chemical weapons as THE bridge too far. I've seen reports that casualties from this civil war have exceeded 100,000. How can it be that world leaders -- including the Obama administration -- don't get too excited over those kinds of numbers, but get up in arms over a few hundred or a maybe 1,000 dead and injured from chemical agents? Death, suffering and misery via bullets and bombs is still death, suffering and misery. Why does the possible use of chemical weapons represent some sort of red line?

And then there is the issue of the good guys versus the bad guys. While I think there is little argument that the Assad regime has been behaving in a very thuggish manner, it has been widely reported in the world press -- though not so much in the US -- that the leading group of the rebellious factions in Syria is none other than Al-Qaeda. Hasn't Al-Qaeda been identified as THE group responsible for most terrorist acts? Isn't this the group that the US utilizes to justify all of our military aggression and mass surveillance?

It makes it very difficult to choose sides. Does one side with the reigning thug OR the fundamentalist Jihadists?

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