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TomF
01-21-2014, 03:53 PM
A former military photographer with the Syrian government has defected. His most recent job function was to photograph the bodies of dead Syrian opposition detainees who had died in custody. When he defected, he brought the images he'd taken, saved on a flash drive. Images of about 11,000 bodies of severely emaciated young men age 20-40, with detailed photography of the injuries and causes of death. The images are being compared with those of WWII detainees at Belsen and Auchwitz.

The CBC story (http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/syria-defector-s-photos-depict-systematic-torture-and-killing-of-detainees-1.2504893) on this describes how the defector had been questioned for 3 days to see if his story held up.
The three former prosecutors, who worked at the criminal war crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Sierra Leone, examined the evidence and interviewed the source in three sessions in the last 10 days. They found him credible.

Investigators also conducted forensic testing on some of the photographs to determine their authenticity, according to Prof. David Crane, one of the report's authors.

"These photographs are so detailed, so authentic that it would be harder to fake them than to actually do them," Crane told CBC News in an interview Tuesday.This ratchets up demands in the peace talks, starting tomorrow in Switzerland, that any political solution cannot include Assad remaining in power.

What should the international community do? If anything?

What positive role, if any, could Israel play ... considering the obvious parallels with the Holocaust. Could an active and supportive role somehow putting reality to the "never again" and "we must remember" phrases engrained in Israeli society actually provide a slim window towards some better relations with progressive elements within the Arab world?

TomF
01-21-2014, 04:20 PM
So, Biden was quoted the other day saying that whatever else happened in Syria, Assad had to go.

Any support or denial of that position, considering this new photo evidence? As the international authorities who reviewed his testimony and photographs observed, the 11,000 confirmed dead - emaciated and tortured - were victims of "industrial scale" abuse - and this evidence is from only one small corner of Syria.

Is there a Western role here, considering the parallels with the Holocaust?

PeterSibley
01-21-2014, 05:13 PM
I have no answer at all Tom.

TomF
01-21-2014, 05:22 PM
I'll venture an opinion, however risky it obviously is.

This is now quite obviously a major war crime venue. Assad's regime, responsible for this, must go - and Assad be prosecuted.

There may be a role for UN peacekeeping on a very substantial scale, working on a strict timeframe for supervised elections. In a dream scenario, Israel should be a prominent partner, alongside various Arab states - regaining some moral authority respecting the evils of industrial scale torture and murder.

And on that strict timeframe, the UN should withdraw following elections, unless invited to stay for a brief further time by the elected government.

Reynard38
01-21-2014, 05:38 PM
Where are the uber wealthy Arab oil states while this is going on?
While death camps are operating in Syria they are building indoor ski slopes in Dubai.

Whatever the US does, somebody will hate us for it.
I hope we sit this one out.

the_gr8t_waldo
01-21-2014, 05:58 PM
So we can be considered, no better that the uber wealthy oil states ? Well it is something to aspire to, I guess

TomF
01-21-2014, 06:45 PM
Jesus, guys.

Yes, Syria's splintered factions now include the people we've been fighting elsewhere. But they're not the dominant groups, and in part the reason they're there is because we haven't been. We left a vacuum when we did not support the more progressive anti-Assad elements.

Machiaveilli would argue for letting the splinter groups kill each other, saving us the trouble. But who then could pick up the pieces in Syria?

This one's become clearer to me today. I don't think there's a moral way to not take sides now. The key will be limiting exposure, taking international partners in ways to advance solutions elsewhere too, and defining an exit plan in advance.

Steve McMahon
01-21-2014, 06:51 PM
Sadly there seem to be too many competing agendas for the countries that could help, to get their act together in a true united peacekeeping operation.

Reynard38
01-21-2014, 06:54 PM
So we can be considered, no better that the uber wealthy oil states ? Well it is something to aspire to, I guess

I aspire to not wasting any more American lives or $$ on the morass that is the Middle East. Let their neighbors handle it, or not.

TomF
01-21-2014, 06:55 PM
One might hope that a re-emergence of what are essentially death camps might change the water on the beans. It did for me. Otherwise, what does all our rhetoric about WWII really mean?

One way to facilitate Islamist support rising where it hadn't before... is to leave Islamist groups as the only international voice stepping in on the peoples' behalf. hardly a better way to prove Western indifference (or complicity).

George Jung
01-21-2014, 07:02 PM
Sure, get a western coalition together - if you can. Unfortunately, I suspect most western nations will provide only lip service, if that. The UN should be leading the charge, if any organization.

TomF
01-21-2014, 07:08 PM
I get the "it's someone else's turn" thing. I agree. But if nobody steps up to take a turn at these peace talks in Switzerland, what's the better option. Now, that is, that these pictures have emerged and we know what's happening. My prime Minister (currently on a visit to Israel) and my Member of Parliament will be hearing from me - advocating Canada partners in a boots-on-the-ground enterprise.

Canada is still having a hard time living with ourselves after the Ruanda massacre happened while we were on UN duty, and couldn't get the community to act.

George Jung
01-21-2014, 07:10 PM
I agree - 'we' should act. Only it shouldn't just be 'you and me'. If this is so important, get a coalition - a real coalition - and everyone contributes. None of this 'declaring victory and leaving someone else holding the bag'. I still think a UN led action is preferable.

LeeG
01-21-2014, 07:27 PM
Let's see, a regional plan involving Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Gulf states, Iraq, Turkey, piece of cake.

George Jung
01-21-2014, 07:29 PM
.... or one of the western allies, including Europe.

LeeG
01-21-2014, 07:30 PM
And then we realize none of the local states can cooperate

CWSmith
01-21-2014, 08:13 PM
Awful mess. Radical rebels are killing less radical rebels, the government kills everyone, and too many expect the US to solve it. It's quicksand with sharks.

TomF
01-21-2014, 08:29 PM
Quicksand with sharks, and unfortunately, death camps.

slug
01-21-2014, 09:03 PM
Syria is a civil war...stay out or you will make an even bigger mess.

pefjr
01-21-2014, 09:41 PM
I aspire to not wasting any more American lives or $$ on the morass that is the Middle East. Let their neighbors handle it, or not.
Exactly. Anyone that wants their soldiers to fight should have to lead the charge to prove they are more than just internet armchair brave, and stay for the duration too. Otherwise, KMA

TomF
01-21-2014, 09:51 PM
If today's news does not justify a response, what would?

My PM, who as you know I think is a piece of scum, visited the Holocaust memorial in Israel today. He wrote "we will always remember the victims of the Holocaust. Never Again.".

I cannot count the number of times politicians from all our countries have sententiously said such words.

With proof of the systematic starving, torture and murder of 11,000 men today, in one corner of Syria alone, what do such words mean? If anything?

slug
01-21-2014, 10:01 PM
You cant get involved with the internal affairs of another country. Foreign armies must only be used to repel foreign aggression.

TomF
01-21-2014, 10:12 PM
Were I of an age to be a soldier, this is the type of cause I'd have trained for. I'd want to go, to stop such egregious evil - even if only by instituting something only less evil.

State sovereignty is only trumped by proof of crimes against humanity. That's what justified intervention respecting Syria's chemical weapons - the principle you mention stopped the intervention at that. Appropriately, I thought.

This crime, though, is another magnitude altogether. 55,000 images of 11,000 emaciated, tortured, dead men. "Industrial scale" says the report, and it touches only one corner of Syria.

We have long claimed "had we known" respecting the Jews and others killed in the Holocaust. Here, we know now. It is for nightmares precisely like this that international law developed the term "crime against humanity".

slug
01-21-2014, 10:21 PM
In syria...who are the good guys and who are the bad guys ?

TomF
01-21-2014, 10:23 PM
So far as I can tell, they're mostly if not all gradations of bad.

The guys to support are the ones being slaughtered in these neo-death camps.

slug
01-21-2014, 10:29 PM
The best way to address the situation is with massive humanitarian aid....bombs and bullets will only bring more death and instability.

CWSmith
01-21-2014, 10:55 PM
The best way to address the situation is with massive humanitarian aid....bombs and bullets will only bring more death and instability.

I wish I agreed, but they would just eat and go back to fighting, bandage their wounds and go back to fighting,...

This ends when they are sick of dying or one side wins. I fear the suffering will continue when the war is over. There are zealots on every side.

LeeG
01-21-2014, 11:00 PM
Tom, you are right,this is heinous.

http://www.juancole.com/2014/01/summarily-executed-prisoners.html

BrianW
01-22-2014, 09:03 AM
Were I of an age to be a soldier, this is the type of cause I'd have trained for. I'd want to go, to stop such egregious evil - even if only by instituting something only less evil.

I'm 48 years old Tom.

Age is no excuse. Go for it.

pefjr
01-22-2014, 09:15 AM
Tom , think now before answering. Would you send your son or daughter to give their life for this? Open question to anyone else also. Another question, this has been going on for at least 5 or 6 years. Several of us started threads on it, and got nada response other than there is no oil in Syria. So why the concern now?, and why are you ignoring the same thing, and much worse that is going on in Africa and has been for decades.

TomF
01-22-2014, 09:30 AM
I'm 48 years old Tom.

Age is no excuse. Go for it.My military wouldn't accept me - men my age get retired out. And no, I'm not in a financial situation to quit my work, leave my family (and a wife with MS) without a provider, and die elsewhere for free. If Canada does commit to action, I might investigate further how they might use me in any Government action.

It is not, IMO, productive for me or other guys to become vigilantes in any case. Any real change will only occur if international law is addressed and respected ... by collective action of the community of states. That's the principle that's got to underlie the action ... not individuals' outrage. And defining those collective International community objectives narrowly within international law's provisions about crimes against humanity, rather than simply working to slaughter the other guy.

To be really clear - my interest isn't in who rules Syria - that's for Syrians to sort out, even through civil war. My interest is even in having wars respect the rule of law.

Pefjr,

If my sons or my daughter were in the Canadian forces, yes I'd see this as a cause for them to serve overseas, and maybe die. Defined as I defined it above. Canada's pride in our international action, such as it is, comes from trying to promote international law. Whether through peacekeeping, or etc. The crucial difference for me, in the past two days or so, isn't that I've suddenly realized Assad is a bad guy, or have suddenly felt a swelling of comaraderie with various of the Syrian rebels.

What's changed things for me is the revelation about Assad's documented, systematic, bureaucratic, industrial scale starvation torture and murder of thousands of detainees. And the authentication of this through highly credible people with experience in the prosecution of war crimes, including their observation that this has strong parallels with Nazi precursors.

slug
01-22-2014, 10:10 AM
"former CIA chief Michael Hayden said that perhaps the US had backed the wrong side in supporting the rebels and that at the end of the day the Assad regime may be the lesser of two evils "

"Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, are all different planes of what is essentially the same conflict: a clash between two opposite interpretations of Islam "


"From around Aleppo in western Syria to small areas of Falluja in central Iraq, al Qaeda now controls territory that stretches more than 400 miles across the heart of the Middle East "

"The focus of al Qaeda's leaders has always been regime change in the Arab world in order to install Taliban-style regimes "

"On Friday al-Qaeda's affiliate in Iraq seized control of parts of the city of Falluja and parts of the city of Ramadi, both of which are located in Iraq's restive Anbar Province. "

"Al-Qaeda now is virtually in control of Libya and we’ve created a monster that is out of control. "

TomF
01-22-2014, 10:35 AM
Slug, I'm not disputing the quotes -but could you give a cite so I can read them in context?

pefjr
01-22-2014, 10:56 AM
Pefjr,

If my sons or my daughter were in the Canadian forces, yes I'd see this as a cause for them to serve overseas, and maybe die. Defined as I defined it above. Canada's pride in our international action, such as it is, comes from trying to promote international law. Whether through peacekeeping, or etc. The crucial difference for me, in the past two days or so, isn't that I've suddenly realized Assad is a bad guy, or have suddenly felt a swelling of comaraderie with various of the Syrian rebels.

What's changed things for me is the revelation about Assad's documented, systematic, bureaucratic, industrial scale starvation torture and murder of thousands of detainees. And the authentication of this through highly credible people with experience in the prosecution of war crimes, including their observation that this has strong parallels with Nazi precursors.Canada is allied with the US in Afghanistan, and the US has decided to ignore International Law in that country and several others, particularly with Drones, and now recently with spying on Allies. I am sure you are aware of this. What does this say about the pride of Canada, as I haven't seen a word of protest or disagreement?

LeeG
01-22-2014, 11:02 AM
TomF, there should be an international condemnation and aid for refugees. What I think is kind of erroneous is to think that our ability to act in and of itself results in desirable outcomes. The US helped crack open a terrorist training ground in Iraq.

There's a vast reservoir of Salafist jihadists that we will never defeat or eliminate, their numbers are in the millions. The numbers willing to fight and kill maybe a tenth of that. Petrodollars are plentiful for fueling all manner of nongovernmental military forces.
Seems to me regional monarchies/theocracies/dictatorships are reticent to deny a neighbor of power they enjoy within their own borders.
I have no idea for a way to resolve Syria's mess but given that our friendly gulf allies are funding jihadists in a proxy war with Iran I just don't see killing Assad or rolling into Syria being a solution.

slug
01-22-2014, 11:04 AM
http://www.businessinsider.com/michael-hayden-syria-assad-2013-12

TomF
01-22-2014, 11:06 AM
Pefjr?

It says something about your eyesight, if you haven't seen a word of protest or disagreement from me. This is old territory between us, Pefjr. I've given my views on Afghanistan in I can't recall how many threads - describing my initial support (grounded in international law: the violation of America's sovereignty on 9/11), my opinion of what they objectives should have been in respect of that violation, and my subsequent loss of support largely because such objectives have been ignored ... with IMO illegal (and also un-winnable) ones substituted.

The spying? I've launched a couple of threads myself about Snowdon's revelations about Canada's spying. Imagine having a spy agency which actually spies ... wouldn't it be a greater scandal if one funded a spy agency which did not? Spying - even on your friends - is well within the scope of accepted international diplomatic doings over hundreds of years. Yawn. You'll note that most of the spying occurred within the framework of well known public agreements signed among allies to assist each other in intelligence work.

Neither are the stuff of "industrial scale" torture and murder by a systematized government bureaucracy.

TomF
01-22-2014, 11:20 AM
http://www.businessinsider.com/michael-hayden-syria-assad-2013-12Thanks.

Hayden's proposing 3, admittedly awful scenarios ...

Ongoing conflict in Syria between Shiite and Sunni extremists
Effective dissolution of Syria as a state, effectively ending the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement and setting in motion the dissolution of other "artificial states" in the region
Assad wins.


Of these, he thought (in December) that #3 was quite possibly the least awful of the 3 awful alternatives.

Frankly, I disagree. I might have thought so, with much hand-wringing, in December too - but these new revelations about Assad's Godwin's Law-like activity have made me reconsider. Whatever option is chosen, it seems to me that if our words have any meaning at all, we are obliged to work against #3.

There may be an option #4, with a brokered peace agreement among the rival rebel groups leading towards a UN peacekeeper-supervised transition to democracy. All of Syria's neighbours would have a strong interest in that working, in one form or another - which does NOT mean that it is likely - though frankly, it's clearly the best pipe-dream wish of the meetings today in Montreaux Switzerland. My roll of the dice is on either #1 or #2, with regional strategy being directed at minimizing the damage of #2.

slug
01-22-2014, 11:34 AM
The solution will come with Russia, Iran and the US cooperating to push the Jihadis back into Saudi Arabia.

you may not like Assad, just as you didnt like Saddam . When you removed Saddam you unleashed Hell.

At present Europe is separated from Hell by theMediterranean Sea and Syria. Removing assad will bring Hell right to Europe's land border.

CWSmith
01-22-2014, 11:44 AM
TomF, there should be an international condemnation and aid for refugees. What I think is kind of erroneous is to think that our ability to act in and of itself results in desirable outcomes. The US helped crack open a terrorist training ground in Iraq.

Don't you think that the international cooperation needs to be greater than this? Isn't it time that the world set standards for governments and shut down the profit margin for despots? It won't be easy, but I don't see how else it can be done.

TomF
01-22-2014, 11:50 AM
The solution will come with Russia, Iran and the US cooperating to push the Jihadis back into Saudi Arabia.

you may not like Assad, just as you didnt like Saddam . When you removed Saddam you unleashed Hell.

At present Europe is separated from Hell by theMediterranean Sea and Syria. Removing assad will bring Hell right to Europe's land border.Quite possibly correct ... with the minor clarification that Canada didn't help remove Saddam. However execrable Canada's actions are from time to time, we dodged supporting Iraq volume 2.

IMO Russia will do nothing overt and military at least until Sochi is over, though it is possible that they'll put enormous pressure on Assad at the diplomatic level, eventually forcing change.

Even symbolically, Israel has a unique opportunity here to display some moral authority - and in so doing, change its relations with a neighbour. Nobody has the weight of history like Israel has, in taking moral high ground opposing industrial-scale killing. I'd be very surprised to see Israel actually make good on that opportunity, because even a symbolic action would be incredibly risky both in external politics and domestic. But they have a shining , potentially paradigm-changing opportunity.

LeeG
01-22-2014, 11:57 AM
Don't you think that the international cooperation needs to be greater than this? Isn't it time that the world set standards for governments and shut down the profit margin for despots? It won't be easy, but I don't see how else it can be done.

Yes, there needs to be more than just aid and condemnation. If we want to provide a constructive role it requires better relations with Iran but more importantly giving up the idea that our military power is the go to tool for resolving conflicts that are long standing and outside our national interests to control.

What I don't get is the idea we can "shut down despots", then what, ship in ten million Americans to provide a model for apathetic consumerism? Where is it written we have the wisdom to come in Godlike with shock and awe regime change then everything is better?

slug
01-22-2014, 11:59 AM
Time to recognize who the enemy is

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/nov/28/worlddispatch.alqaida

this was written in 2002

Osborne Russell
01-22-2014, 11:59 AM
I have no answer at all Tom.

Me either. That's one way you can tell it's a good question, well put.

Osborne Russell
01-22-2014, 12:12 PM
My interest is even in having wars respect the rule of law.

That was the one of the two principal points of Nuremburg and the creation of the United Nations, in my understanding. The other is that the community of nations has a legitimate interest in preventing massive human rights violations a la the Nazis; that interest may justify war against the offending state.

If someone starts a war, there are rules. We enforce them. If they persecute heavily, we start a war against them.
"We" is no longer limited to a single nation or alliance.

This is a moral position which limits the sovereignty of nations. It was the policy of the United States until the Chimp era. It causes Reds to gnash their teeth. They retard the advancement of civilization.

pefjr
01-22-2014, 12:23 PM
Pefjr?

It says something about your eyesight, if you haven't seen a word of protest or disagreement from me. This is old territory between us, Pefjr. I've given my views on Afghanistan in I can't recall how many threads - describing my initial support (grounded in international law: the violation of America's sovereignty on 9/11), my opinion of what they objectives should have been in respect of that violation, and my subsequent loss of support largely because such objectives have been ignored ... with IMO illegal (and also un-winnable) ones substituted.

It says nothing about my eyesight, I remember well your protests. You were speaking not of yourself but proudly of your country..... here: "Canada's pride in our international action, such as it is, comes from trying to promote international law." Stop the dodge and answer the question. It's not only Canada that is supporting the total ignoring of International Law, I haven't seen a single protest or word from any of the Allies. If Syria is to be condemned by the Allies, then should we not be clean of the same violation?

TomF
01-22-2014, 01:07 PM
"Canada's pride, such as it is..."

Founded in a now outdated image of ourselves as instrumental in drafting the UN charter, helping create the concept of "peacekeeping" (won our then Prime Minister the Nobel). Being a member of every UN peacekeeping force until our current government broke the streak.

No, our pride does not, on the whole, extend to being overjoyed with our mission in Afghanistan. Many, many of us are profoundly unhappy with big elements of it, while also being proud of reports of how actual soldiers performed in politically bolloxed and out-of-our-scope tasks and frankly stupid objectives.

Backwoodsbeagle
01-22-2014, 01:32 PM
As an Israeli soldier, born in the US, I feel that I would be willing to go to war over this. Never again means never again for all people not just jews.

Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk 2

LeeG
01-22-2014, 02:19 PM
As an Israeli soldier, born in the US, I feel that I would be willing to go to war over this. Never again means never again for all people not just jews.

Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk 2

You have a strategy in mind that doesn't leave you and 10,000's of non- Arab soldiers battling insurgent forces drawn from multiple countries willing to battle Western hegemony while a post dictatorship gov't is constructed? If you're going to war what is the end state you're looking for?

pefjr
01-22-2014, 02:49 PM
Well, I had my war, will sit this one out, and watch the Super Bowl on big screen. You boys enjoy the fight. BTW Tom, Canada has a pretty young girl in the semis of the Australian Open, and plays Li Na tonight I think, for a spot in the finals. 19 yrs old, and has every shot in the book. She has a lot of potential for the future. Keep an ear peeled for Eugenie Bouchard, I think she will become a super star.

bobbys
01-22-2014, 07:04 PM
A former military photographer with the Syrian government has defected. His most recent job function was to photograph the bodies of dead Syrian opposition detainees who had died in custody. When he defected, he brought the images he'd taken, saved on a flash drive. Images of about 11,000 bodies of severely emaciated young men age 20-40, with detailed photography of the injuries and causes of death. The images are being compared with those of WWII detainees at Belsen and Auchwitz.

The CBC story (http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/syria-defector-s-photos-depict-systematic-torture-and-killing-of-detainees-1.2504893) on this describes how the defector had been questioned for 3 days to see if his story held up. This ratchets up demands in the peace talks, starting tomorrow in Switzerland, that any political solution cannot include Assad remaining in power.

What should the international community do? If anything?

What positive role, if any, could Israel play ... considering the obvious parallels with the Holocaust. Could an active and supportive role somehow putting reality to the "never again" and "we must remember" phrases engrained in Israeli society actually provide a slim window towards some better relations with progressive elements within the Arab world?

which side is Scylla and which side is Charybdis.?

Being between Scylla and Charybdis is an idiom deriving from Greek mythology, meaning "having to choose between two evils". Several other idioms, such as "on the horns of a dilemma", "between the devil and the deep blue sea", and "between a rock and a hard place" express the same meaning.

TomF
01-22-2014, 07:16 PM
I fully "get" the problem. But we've got one side apparently using proto-Nazi techniques. That changes the equation, IMO.

LeeG
01-22-2014, 07:56 PM
I fully "get" the problem. But we've got one side apparently using proto-Nazi techniques. That changes the equation, IMO.

And a good argument can be made the CW attack was by Al Qaeda affiliates and not Assads gov't. even though reports are skewed against Assad.

Like Obama said it changes the calculus but that still doesn't mean opening up another power vacuum resolves things for Syrians.

Anyone have articles and opinions from Middle East experts?


http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2014/01/montreux-the-dance-of-the-clowns.html

WX
01-22-2014, 11:52 PM
One might hope that a re-emergence of what are essentially death camps might change the water on the beans. It did for me. Otherwise, what does all our rhetoric about WWII really mean?

One way to facilitate Islamist support rising where it hadn't before... is to leave Islamist groups as the only international voice stepping in on the peoples' behalf. hardly a better way to prove Western indifference (or complicity).
No attempt was made by the Allies during the Second World War to shutdown the death camps or otherwise stop the slaughter of Jews and other concentration camp victims. In spite of the fact that the camps were known about fairly early on.
Wars are very rarely fought on moral or ethical grounds.