Posts Tagged ‘Syria’

Well, it’s official: according the MSNBC, all US forces will be out of Iraq by the time 2012 rolls around.

(from the BBC)

Under the deal, US troops will withdraw from the streets of Iraqi towns next year, leaving Iraq by the end of 2011.

The decision will need to go before Iraq’s parliament for a final vote.

America’s National Security Council welcomed the cabinet’s vote, saying it was “an important and positive step” towards stability and security.

The pact is necessary to determine the role of US military forces in Iraq after their UN mandate expires on 31 December 2008.

In October, Iraq sent a new round of suggested changes to the draft Status of Forces Agreement (Sofa), to which the US responded.

Washington had previously said the pact was “final” and could not be amended.

The UK government, which has 4,100 troops in Iraq, is waiting for the US-Iraqi pact to be approved so they can use it as a template for their own bi-lateral deal.

Well, we had to take out our troops sometime, and 2012 seems reasonable, though I’d prefer that we pulled them out earlier. Still, I think this gives the Iraqi government more than enough time to clean up its act and prepare its troops to actually defend against terrorism.

At the same time, I’m not so sure I like this, considering that we have been using Iraq as a launching pad for attacks against Syria, in addition to using our bases in Afghanistan to conduct strikes in Pakistan. Keeping troops in Iraq for any longer amount of time means that it’s possible that we can conduct cross-border strikes into Syria again, and possibly Iran.

There’s no question that we need our troops out, but it looks like Iraq is an eternal damned-if-we-do, damned-if-we-don’t situation. The truth is, we really don’t know what kind of hell we’ll unleash once all of our troops leave the country, and we won’t know for sure until January 1st, 2012.


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The BBC reports that in Damascus, a mass of thousands marched in protest of the American attack on a Syrian village on Sunday, which killed 8.

Many at the government-backed demonstration carried banners, shouted anti-US slogans and waved pictures of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Riot police surrounded the US embassy in Damascus, which American officials closed blaming security fears.

The Syrian government has demanded that Washington apologise for the incident.

The US state department and the White House have refused to confirm the alleged attack.

Slogans

The protesters, including many civil servants and students, converged on the central Youssef al-Azmi square.

Closing the Damascus embassy on Thursday, American officials cited “violence and significant damage to US facilities and other embassies” in past demonstrations.

Officials warned US citizens to avoid the area and an American school was also shut temporarily.

Is it any wonder how terrorist organizations manage to recruit young men to do their bidding against the evil West and especially America, when we kill innocent people and don’t even admit our crimes? These people feel a need to fight back against the Americans, who, as far as they know, have only killed their innocent friends, family, and countrymen while clearly violating international laws. The only way they can even dream of taking the fight to a much stronger opponent (that would be us) is to use terrorism’s tactics (in this case) of IEDs and suicide bombings.

The reason? Simply because our army is far better in conventional warfare than they are; they would be much less successful than they are if they fought like an actual army. By employing terrorism, they gain a little advantage: they make sure they can kill some Americans before they die.

We talk about how these terrorists are killing in the name of God. For some, that may be true, but for most, I’d expect that they’re killing in the name of their loved ones that our soldiers took away from them.

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Within the past two months, we have launched two attacks to capture al-Qaeda leaders in other countries’ (that is, countries that aren’t named Iraq and Afghanistan) territory. Yes, I realize that we were potentially going after high value targets, but that doesn’t justify going into a sovereign nation’s territory and killing innocent civilians in order to track down a terrorist. Our government seems to forge that this is the real world, and that there are actual international laws to be complied with. To not do so, obviously, will have implications.

That is, if other countries, including our allies, are willing to call us out on it.

Here’s what I find most unsettling about our actions in the Middle East: Russia invades Georgia because of Georgia’s human rights abuses in Georgia’s own unethical invasion of their own territory (see here), and our leaders are up in arms, saying that Russia has no business invading a sovereign nation and we are all Georgians and all that other nonsense. (Let’s also note that Barack Obama jumped on that bandwagon as well, pandering to those whose primary source of news is cable television, which accounts for 70% of the population, if I were to estimate that figure.)

But we send troops into Pakistan and Syria to pursue our own agenda, capturing al-Qaeda members, without the consent of said countries. How is this not different than Russia’s “invasion of Georgia”, except on a much smaller scale? Violating a sovereign country’s territory is crime enough, no matter the size of the invasion.

Take this hypothetical, for example: suppose we received word that Russia launched a helicopter raid in the US, trying to track down a criminal ex-KGB officer, who killed innocent civilians, and so on. In the process of the raid, they killed a few innocent Americans. What’s more, the Russians failed to release an official statement regarding the attack, or its violation of the United States’s border security.

Would we not retaliate against the Russians, citing their unlawful “invasion”, even though the raid would only consist of a number of troops in the double digits (at most!)? Wouldn’t America be up in arms that Russia killed civilians? Wouldn’t we whine to our allies in the European Union and the UN that Russia broke international law? Of course we would. Now, when the Syrian foreign minister accuses us of using “criminal and terrorist aggression”, we know exactly where he’s coming from. If we were in his shoes, we’d think the same exact thing.

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Today’s good, bad, and insightful:

The Good

The first two aren’t so much great as they are hilarious:

Martin Varsavsky lets us all know, that, as of today, Volkswagen is the wealthiest corporation in the world.

An Israeli child dressed up as a Palestinian gunman and took to the streets hoping to provoke a reaction from the police, the BBC reports. For a school project. Hey, he wanted to get an A!

Raymond Whitaker from The Independent’s blog Open House correctly surmises that, in America, it doesn’t even matter if you’re with us or against us: we’ll attack you no matter whose side you’re on.

The Daily Beast’s Christopher Brownfield explains exactly why the Syrian attack was bad, bad news.

The Bad

Nothing today.

The Insightful

Money quote from a post today in the Edge of the American West:

So, as I understand it, Obama’s plan to tax the really wealthy consists largely (or entirely) of letting the Bush tax cuts expire instead of extending them. * This is derided as a socialism; but aside from the ridiculousness of the difference between Real American Taxes and Evil Islamic Arugula Socialism being 3% and roughly half a billion bucks…. does this mean we were already socialist during the Bush administration before the tax cuts and didn’t know it?

I thought the socialist barricades would come with a little flag to wave.