Op-Ed: US Secretary of State John Kerry meets with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague on Sunday. As Hague was involved with Kerry's meeting earlier this weekend in Europe why the need for more chat? Dodgy deals behind closed doors?
Early in the morning Hague appeared on one of the BBC's flagship political news "chat" shows, Andrew Marr. It was good to see Andrew Marr, recovering after suffering a stroke, back in the hot-seat. His interviewing style is relaxed but always searching. Mr Hague appeared calm but authoritative but did he shed any light on the Syrian crisis and the plans of world leaders?
He was at pains to say that world leaders could hardly detail their plans publicly. Whilst we all understand the reasons for that, the lack of transparency adds to the concern of those who are cautious about military strikes against Assad. Questions such as:
Flipping channels following the Marr show there was more debate on Syria. This time it included attacks on liberals who do not support military strikes -- labelling them all as people happy to stand by and watch others be killed. Someone should have told them that verbal attack is the poorest form of defense.
It is easy to feel intimidated if you are called weak, a coward or misinformed but those who can spin events the best do not always tell the truth.
In my opinion many "liberals" are appalled at the senseless killing and humanitarian crisis in Syria. They are appalled that western governments have been propping up a dodgy bunch of rebels in order to oust Assad. They are appalled that we are working with countries such as Saudi Arabia, which has a terrible track record on human and women's rights, in order to oust Assad.
They believe, or at least this one does, that the mission has always been about ousting Assad, power in the middle east, oil, Israel and gas. There are many reports and opinion pieces online about the control of gas and oil in Syria and the region, and possible reasons for military strikes. The Guardian has an interesting one which can be found here.
The west now has a huge problem. Having backed itself into a corner how it responds could determine our future. However surely military strikes launched to save face will not result in anything positive in the long term?
A crucial question also remains in many people's minds and that is "Have western nations and special forces been working behind the scenes, for the last two years, to pull down Assad?" Perhaps if leaders came clean about their real agenda they would garner some support. That would at least allow people to judge the situation on the facts.
Gone are the days when governments, as in WW1, wage a lengthy war following incidents abroad with the full support of the people. Times change. Look at those images of keen young men following the UK government war-machine and almost gleefully marching of to war. What a different picture they portrayed when they returned from the battlefields, the few who survived that is.
Chemical weapons were used in that war leading to global condemnation of such weapons and an international pact. Syria is not part of that pact. As of early 2013 Angola, Egypt, North Korea and South Sudan also remained Non-signatory states to the Chemical weapons convention. At that time two nations had signed but not ratified their treaties and they were Israel and Myanmar -- Wikipedia.
What remains worrying is the amount of chemical weapons "out there". Although the CWC is committed to destroying chemical weapons stockpiles remain.
According to Wikipedia: "The total world declared stockpile of chemical weapons was about 30,308 tons in early 2010. A total of 71,315 tonnes of agents, 8.67 million munitions and containers, and 70 production facilities were declared to OPCW before destruction activities began. In addition, several countries that are not members are suspected of having chemical weapons, especially Syria and North Korea, while some member states (including Sudan and the People's Republic of China) have been accused by others of failing to disclose their stockpiles."
So does the commitment to remove or control chemical weapons make you feel any safer?
Referring to Wikipedia again the CWC classifes chemicals into three classes:
We should not forget that since the infamous use of chemical weapons in WW1 other lethal weapons have been made. Atomic bombs and unmanned killer drones are in some people's minds the new chemical weapons, but of course there will be more in the pipeline.
Who may have used chemical weapons since WW1 is debatable. Read this blog for one person's view. It may be wrong but it could offer more food for thought as you weigh up the "next move" and how you stand on Syria.
When Kerry meets Hague later today they will be both be on the same side but are the majority of American people and the British? After all that is who they represent.
Opting to call liberals who believe military strikes are wrong cowards or weak harks back to pre WW1 days when those who did not volunteer to fight were given Four Feathers of shame.
As it gets messy what can we do?
NYTimes: Brutality of Syrian Rebels Posing Dilemma in West
The Syrian rebels posed casually, standing over their prisoners with firearms pointed down at the shirtless and terrified men. The prisoners, seven in all, were captured Syrian soldiers. Five were trussed, their backs marked with red welts. They kept their faces pressed to the dirt as the rebels’ commander recited a bitter revolutionary verse. “For fifty years, they are companions to corruption,” he said. “We swear to the Lord of the Throne, that this is our oath: We will take revenge.” The moment the poem ended, the commander, known as “the Uncle,” fired a bullet into the back of the first prisoner’s head. His gunmen followed suit, promptly killing all the men at their feet. Full report here