Syria: We live in strange times

A Democratic President gets the Republican Party to turn dove-ish on military intervention in the Middle East, but holds back from military action thanks to his ex-KGB Russian counterpart’s diplomatic proposal, which tosses that Democratic President a lifeline in both foreign and domestic affairs. All this, after the two have been at loggerheads for months over issues ranging from trade to an NSA leaker who escaped the US and sought asylum in Moscow. The President’s base reflexively opposes his call for military strikes, the base of the party opposite will flip flop like a dying fish if it means opposing whatever he says is good, but in a single prime-time speech, he managed to (temporarily, at least) convince 61% of listenersof the value of what his stance. Continue Reading

Law, ethics, and Syria: What should we do?

Law matters. But the law is the not sum total of what matters when it comes to asking the question “What is the right thing to do?,” be that in our personal or professional lives. Often obedience to the law–asking if doing something is legal–is the starting point for evaluating conduct. But there is a long lineage of people from St. Augustine, Henry David Thoreau, to Martin Luther King, Jr. Who would point out that unjust laws are not morally binding and that in some cases disobeying them is the right thing to do. Conversely, mere conformity to the letter of the law also does not necessarily mean one is acting ethically or that following the rule is the right thing to do. More is required. This is also true when it come to the decision by President Obama to take military action against Syria. Continue Reading

Syrian war crimes trials or missiles

I’m skeptical of suggestions of ad hoc war crimes trials as a way to respond the chemical weapons attacks in Syria, partly because they’re so far just congressmen tossing off suggestions at a time when Congress is working on the specific wording of resolutions already, but let’s suppose the idea was developed and serious. There are other problems. When there’s already a permanent International Criminal Court which most nations have signed on to, but not the US, the only interest in an ad hoc court might come from us. Are we willing to do that alone? Would such a court have any legitimacy? If some future Syrian government would support such a court, it won’t actually need or even want our help. Even if such a court can get up and running, it would have the legitimacy problem of being perceived as victor’s justice. Even that assumes that the prospective defendants can be brought to trial. If they attain or retain power, trying them isn’t going to happen. Besides, maybe knowing there’s an indictment hanging over their heads, maybe they have an incentive to fight to the bitter end, well past any realistic hope of victory. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Anti-Syrian War protesters rally in front of Senator Klobuchar’s office

With around 150 in attendance including many different anti-war/pro-peace groups, many honks and waves were witnessed in front of United States Senator Amy Klobuchar’s office in downtown Minneapolis. The message to her and our other elected ‘representatives’ was clear, the people do NOT want military intervention in Syria. Many great speakers also participated and gave inspirational words to those who listened. Continue Reading