Britain and Syria Resume Intelligence Sharing

[Landis analysis] Two pieces of important news. Al-Baradei claims that the traces of uranium discovered at the Euphrates bomb site do not mean there was a reactor. He has demanded greater Syrian and Israeli cooperation. The Syrians are unlikely to allow further teams of investigators to explore Syrian sites. 

Miliband in Damascus

Miliband in Damascus

Second, Miliband, Great Britain’s foreign minister, did two important things. He visited Damascus, which raises the pressure on Obama to revise US policy toward Syria. He has asked Syria to push harder for advances on the peace process – but this should be read in two ways – one as a genuine message to the Syrians, but two is a message to Washington to throw its weight behind the talks and to place the Syrian-Israeli peace negotiations high on its agenda.  Gordon Brown has already state that Mr Obama’s foreign policy priority should be the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The announcement that Miliband has re-established high level intelligence sharing with Syria is also significant. Secretary Rice and Foreign Minister Mu`allim discussed restarting intelligence sharing in May 2007 at Sharm al-Sheikh, but Syria asked the US to return an ambassador to Damascus as a sign of Syria’s cooperation. The US refused this gesture, forcing the US military “to take matters in their own hands.” Ultimately, the politicians in Washington forced the Defense department to settle the border issue militarily – hence the raid last month that killed eight Syrians. (We still have no proof that the Americans killed or captured the “facilitator” Abu Ghadiyya, whom they claim they snagged n the raid. I find it a bit odd that they have not shown us a photo of the man as they did with Saddam or his sons. Why all the secrecy about a raid they claimed as a stunning success and a person they have told us so much about?)

At any rate, the Syrians clearly offered the British the same offer they made to the Americans well over a year ago. The difference is that the British have been smart enough to take the offer, sending their foreign minister to Damascus as a gesture of good will and cooperation. So the British will now supply the US with Syrian intelligence. This will be awkward for the Americans; they will be dependent on the British for intelligence. Of course, if the Americans like the bits of intelligence they get from the Syrians, they will have to ask for more and will have to ask the Syrians to act on the intelligence or to deliver certain fighters. In this way, one can only presume that the Americans will start to negotiate with the Syrians indirectly. Just as the Syrians talk to the Israelis through the Turks, the US will talk to the Syrians through the British. The silliness of this will strengthen the Defense Department’s hand in insisting that Washington politicians do the right thing and grow up. It is just plain silly. Syria wants to help the US kill al-Qaida types, but the US refuses to say yes. How goofey is that? If Obama doesn’t send someone of stature to Damascus to fix this, I will eat my hat.

(By the way, Colonel Patrick Lang just visited the University of Oklahoma to give a lecture. It was very nice to meet him after years of reading his fine blog. He gave an excellent and sweeping lecture on the state of the Middle East. He was the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Middle East stuff for some years, the head of human intelligence, was military attache in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Yemen, a Green Baret and many other things to boot. 

Syria nuclear clues ‘not damning’
BBC News, 17 November 2008

… “There was uranium but it doesn’t mean there was a reactor… It’s not highly enriched uranium,” Mr ElBaradei added.

The US has said the target of Israel’s raid in September 2007 was a secret nuclear reactor built with North Korean help that was nearing completion. ….

The director of the UN atomic watchdog, has said a report he is due to present later this week on Syrian nuclear activity will “not be conclusive”. “We still have work to do,” …..”We need more co-operation from Syria… We need also co-operation from Israel,”…..

Britain re-establishes high-level intelligence links with Syria
November 19, 2008

Syria is known to have excellent intelligence on tracking the movements of Islamic extremists into Iraq Britain re-established high-level intelligence links with the Syrian authorities as David Miliband made his landmark visit to Damascus yesterday, according to senior Syrian officials. …

In their first phone call since the US election, Gordon Brown emphasised that Mr Obama’s foreign policy priority should be the Arab-Israeli conflict, which he sees as the key to other concerns in the region, including the threat of a nuclear Iran.

Joshua Landis, an American expert on Syria, said the visit was “a message from the British to Obama. Like the French, they want the US to push Syrian-Israeli peace. Negotiations between Syria and Israel began last May, but the Bush Administration was unhappy about the dialogue and refused to support them.”

Iran aims for 2009 launch of nuclear plant  Iran (Thanks FLC)

“…Atomstroyexport, the Russian firm building the plant, said in September the plant was nearing completion and that it would start “technological work” in December 2008 to February 2009 that would put the plant on an “irreversible final” course…”
Dennis Ross, Obama’s adviser on Middle East policy, issued a statement Sunday, saying “I was in the meeting in Ramallah. Then-senator Obama did not say this, the story is false.” The British Sunday Times said Obama expressed this sentiment during his visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories last July.
 Barack Obama brings hope of Iran talks, says Shimon Peres
By Richard Beeston
Times Online, 17 November 2008

The move, first raised earlier this year at a meeting in New York between the Foreign Secretary and his Syrian counterpart, Walid Moualem, was a key objective of the Syrian visit. The newly revived intelligence relationship could be hugely beneficial to Britain. Syria is known to have one of the best intelligence-gathering systems in the Middle East, in particular in tracking the movements of Islamic extremists into Iraq and around the region.

Israel believes that there is a chance for dialogue with Iran if Barack Obama succeeds in uniting the international community behind a common policy.

Shimon Peres, the Israeli President who arrives in London tonight, said that his country’s most implacable foe could be brought to the negotiating table depending on a new political climate and economic factors, in particular a falling oil price.

The veteran politician, who turned 85 this summer, also told The Times that he expected Israel to achieve peace with its Arab neighbours within his life time, and even predicted that he would one day visit Damascus and Riyadh.

His upbeat message will no doubt be dismissed by many in the Middle East as the musings of a lifelong optimist. Certainly no recent Israeli leader has expressed any positive view of Iran, whose nuclear policy and support for militant groups is regarded as the major existential threat to the Jewish state…

POSTGLOBAL: A Debate Blog on Foreign Policy and International Affairs
Iran losing clout in Iraq?
Foreign Policy, 16 November 2008

A sampling of the blog’s debate topics and authors:

Region’s Dynamic Will Change, Regardless of the Outcome
Peace isn’t likely, but a regional shake-up is…

Missing from Talks: Sincerity
Neither Syria nor Israel is prepared or willing to make the necessary concessions…

Talks Poised to Bring Iranian Rebirth
Iran will gain ground in the tug-of-war with the United States…

“….The changes were mostly minor, according to people close to the negotiations, but may have allowed Iraqi politicians to portray themselves as driving a tough bargain. Lawmakers are wary of appearing too pro-American, and some faced pressure from Iran, which strongly opposes the accord, Iraqi officials and analysts said…”

The choice for Obama lies on the road to Jerusalem
By Philip Stephens
Financial Times, November 13 2008

..Yet here Mr Obama has promised least. True, he has made the right noises about throwing his authority behind a two-state solution. There is talk of the appointment of a special US envoy to take a permanent seat at the negotiating table. As yet, however, Mr Obama has given little sign that he is ready to invest the energy and political capital to broker a deal.

You can see why. The Annapolis process, the belated effort by the Bush administration to secure an accord, has gone nowhere slowly. This week the outgoing administration all but abandoned hopes of progress before Mr Bush leaves the White House.

Tony Blair, the United Nations’ special envoy to the region, displayed all his trademark optimism by insisting that a “platform” was in place for a final settlement. We have heard that one before.

The polls suggest that the Israeli elections are unlikely to deliver a coalition with the authority to strike a land-for-peace bargain with the Palestinians. Benjamin Netanyahu, the hawkish Likud leader, may emerge as prime minister. During his last spell in office Mr Netanyahu sought to derail the Oslo accords. I have heard it said that the one meeting that went badly during Mr Obama’s tour of the Middle East and Europe this year was his encounter with Mr Netanyahu.

For their part, the Palestinians remain divided in spite of the best efforts of Egyptian mediation. Hamashas so far refused to offer the recognition of Israel demanded by the international community. In the absence of a committed interlocutor on the Israeli side, it is hard to see what would prompt Fatah and Hamas to settle their differences.

So why should Mr Obama risk his reputation in such a cause? The answer comes in several parts…

In Lebanon, puritanical Sunnis and a reputed playboy team up in politics
By Borzou Daragahi
Los Angeles Times, 17 November 2008

When it comes to strange Middle East bedfellows, Lebanon’s latest politicalpartnership may be the most unlikely: The leader of one party has a reputation as a playboy with ties to neoconservatives in the Bush administration. The other group is widely viewed as a community of extremists whose puritanical strain of Sunni Islam inspired Osama bin Laden.

Lebanon’s Salafists, often equated with terrorists in much of the Arab world, have teamed with Saad Hariri and his mainstream Future Movement to become part of the country’s political order.

“They used to be very marginal,” Benedetta Berti, a terrorism specialist at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Massachusetts, said of the Salafists. “Now, they have to be taken into account by any political movement. They have become a significant political force. Not by number, but in terms of the political impact they could have.”

The curious experiment, in one of the Arab world’s most democratic political systems, could have implications for the rest of the region. In Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and Algeria, Salafists are often tossed into dungeons.

“One of the main reasons Salafists join the jihadist . . . and terrorist groups is because of alienation and marginalization,” said Mustafa Allouch, a Future Movement lawmaker from Tripoli. “They don’t find any hope for expressing their ideas. It’s better to accept all types of ideas and put them under the light so they don’t grow in the darkness…”

In Now Lebanon: Additional confessions link Fatah al-Islam with Syria, according to TV news report

In Now Lebanon:  Miliband arrives in Beirut, says he is pleased with Syrian-Lebanese relations 

In McClatchy’s, here

“The status of forces of agreement between the United States and Iraq goes further than most people in the United States realize. It contains no provisions for the U.S. to leave behind a residual force recently mentioned by Barack Obama or the trainers that have long been part of the withdrawal discussions …Unless the agreement is amended, which would require the formal written approval of both sides, in three years there no longer would be any legal basis for U.S. armed forces or civilian contractors of the Department of Defense to remain in Iraq. If Iraq wants American forces to leave earlier, it could terminate the agreement with one year’s notice. The United States has the option to do the same…”

The Syrian News Agency says Assad expressed Syria’s deep concern over the “deteriorating situation in Gaza” during a meeting in Damascus Sunday with Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa. SANA said Assad stressed the need for the 22-member Arab League to take decisions at an Arab ministerial meeting in Cairo later this month to put an end to the Israeli siege.

Pact, Approved in Iraq, Sets Time for U.S. Pullout
New York Times, 16 November 2008

Iraq’s cabinet on Sunday overwhelmingly approved a proposed security agreement that calls for a full withdrawal of American forces from the country by the end of 2011. The cabinet’s decision brings a final date for the departure of American troops a significant step closer after more than five and a half years of war.

The proposed pact must still be approved by Iraq’s Parliament, in a vote scheduled to take place in a week. But leaders of some of the largest parliamentary blocs expressed confidence that with the backing of most Shiites and Kurds they had enough support to ensure its approval.

Twenty-seven of the 28 cabinet ministers who were present at the two-and-a-half-hour session voted in favor of the pact. Nine ministers were absent. The nearly unanimous vote was a victory for the dominant Shiite party and its Kurdish partners. Widespread Sunni opposition could doom the proposed pact even if it has the votes to pass, as it would call into question whether there was a true nationalconsensus, which Shiite leaders consider essential.

The proposed agreement, which took nearly a year to negotiate with the United States, not only sets a date for American troop withdrawal, but puts new restrictions on American combat operations in Iraq starting Jan. 1 and requires an American military pullback from urban areas by June 30. Those hard dates reflect a significant concession by the departing Bush administration, which had been publicly averse to timetables…

Barack Obama links Israel peace plan to 1967 borders deal
By Uzi Mahnaimi and Sarah Baxter
Times Online, 16 November 2008

Barack Obama is to pursue an ambitious peace plan in the Middle East involving the recognition of Israel by the Arab world in exchange for its withdrawal to pre-1967 borders, according to sources close to America’s president-elect.

Obama intends to throw his support behind a 2002 Saudi peace initiative endorsed by the Arab League and backed by Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister and leader of the ruling Kadima party.

The proposal gives Israel an effective veto on the return of Arab refugees expelled in 1948 while requiring it to restore the Golan Heights to Syria and allow the Palestinians to establish a state capital in east Jerusalem.

On a visit to the Middle East last July, the president-elect said privately it would be “crazy” for Israel to refuse a deal that could “give them peace with the Muslim world”, according to a senior Obama adviser…

Kissinger Says Clinton Would Be Outstanding at State
By Cherian Thomas and Julianna Goldman
Bloomberg, 17 November 2008

Henry Kissinger said Hillary Clinton, a leading contender to be the Barack Obama’s Secretary of State, would be an “outstanding” appointment.

“She is a lady of great intelligence, demonstrated enormous determination and would be an outstanding appointment,” Kissinger, who served in the post from 1973 to 1977 under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, told the World Economic Forum’s India Economic Summit in New Delhi today.

New York Senator Clinton appears to be President-elect Obama’sleading choice for the job, according to a Democrat familiar with the matter. Clinton, who lost to Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination, flew on Nov. 13 to Chicago, where the two met.

“If it is true, it will show a couple of things,” Kissinger said. “It shows great courage on the part of the president-elect to appoint a very strong personality, who has an independent constituency, into a cabinet position. It also shows willingness on the part of Clinton to subordinate herself to someone whom she lost out to.”

Former President Bill Clinton declined to speculate today on whether his wife may be offered the job.

“If Obama did decide and they do decide to do it together, I think she’d be really great at being secretary of state,” the former president said after speaking at a symposium in Kuwait. “Whatever happens or doesn’t happen is between Obama and her…”

Professor Hired for Outreach to Muslims Delivers a Jolt
Wall Street Journal, 15 November 2008

Muhammad Sven Kalisch, a Muslim convert and Germany’s first professor of Islamic theology, fasts during the Muslim holy month, doesn’t like to shake hands with Muslim women and has spent years studying Islamic scripture. Islam, he says, guides his life.

So it came as something of a surprise when Prof. Kalischannounced the fruit of his theological research. His conclusion: The Prophet Muhammad probably never existed.

Muslims, not surprisingly, are outraged. Even Danish cartoonists who triggered global protests a couple of years ago didn’t portray the Prophet as fictional. German police, worried about a violent backlash, told the professor to move his religious-studies center to more-secure premises.

“We had no idea he would have ideas like this,” says Thomas Bauer, a fellow academic at Münster University who sat on a committee that appointed Prof. Kalisch. “I’m a more orthodox Muslim than he is, and I’m not a Muslim.”

When Prof. Kalischtook up his theology chair four years ago, he was seen as proof that modern Western scholarship and Islamic ways can mingle — and counter the influence of radical preachers in Germany. He was put in charge of a new program at Münster, one of Germany’s oldest and most respected universities, to train teachers in state schools to teach Muslim pupils about their faith…

Syria heartened by Obama’s plan for Iraq: envoy
By Louis Charbonneau
Reuters, 14 November 2008

Syria said on Friday it was heartened by U.S. President-elect Barack Obama’s plan to pull U.S. combat troops from Iraq within 16 months of taking office since it reflects the desire of Iraq and its neighbors.

Damascus’s Deadly Bargain
by Lee Smith
Hudson Institute, 14 November 2008

….To better understand Syria’s motivations, I visited Abdel Halim Khaddam, Syria’s former vice president, in Brussels, where he was leading a meeting of the National Salvation Front (NSF), a Syrian opposition group. Having served under both Hafez al-Assad and his son Bashar, Khaddam is well-acquainted with the strategic and political exigencies driving the regime’s support for terror. “Fighting the Americans in Iraq is very dangerous,” he tells me. “But it also makes Bashar popular. Under the banner of resistance, anything is popular.”

Thus, it seems the first reason Syria backs these militants is because it wins public acclaim. As is the case in many countries across the Arab world, most Syrians distinguish between terror and resistance. They define the former as violence that hurts Syrians and Syrian interests–such as the Muslim Brotherhood’s war against the Syrian state in the late 1970s and early ’80s, for example. But resistance is the violence that the Syrian regime makes possible at the expense of other states–from Lebanon to Israel to Iraq–strengthening its position as the self-described “capital of Arab resistance…”

Assad urges Arab action to break Gaza siege
AP, 16 November 2008

Syrian President Bashar Assad has called for Arab League action to help break Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip.

Comments (97)

saghir said:

Syria’s infiltration of extremists is so widespread that the US must start to leverage by having direct contact. Outsourcing the finding of Usama Bin Laden to damascus is one suggestion. I bet they will find him and eliminate him sooner.

November 19th, 2008, 5:11 am


Shai said:

Here are two predictions for Barack Obama:

1. Within his first year in office, Obama will visit in most major Arab capitals, including Damascus, Cairo, and Riyadh.

2. Within his second year, Obama will also visit… Tehran.

November 19th, 2008, 5:23 am


Brad said:

“The Syrian News Agency says Assad expressed Syria’s deep concern over the “deteriorating situation in Gaza” during a meeting in Damascus Sunday with Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa.”

Of course he should be concerned if one of his legs (Hamas) is to break. Doubtful, the Arabs would listen to him. After all, he doesn’t consider them to be true men. Let’s see if he can continue to limp on one leg (Hezballah).

November 19th, 2008, 5:46 am


Saghir said:


Continue to limp on one leg?

Are you implying that Damascus has survived this long by standing on a table of only two legs?

November 19th, 2008, 12:02 pm


Britain-Syria Resume Intelligence Sharing | Oustider On The Inside said:

[…] to play its hand on Syria early in its tenure.  The diplomatic isolation is beginning to thaw, and Joshua Landis suggests that renewed intelligence sharing will eventually force the United States into the fold, […]

November 19th, 2008, 12:32 pm


annie said:

On Wednesday, 20 campuses involved with the Union of Progressive Zionists will sign 10,000 of the above postcards (see the back) and deliver them to the White House. Harvard

Progressive Jewish Alliance president Paul Katz on Haaretz:

President-elect Obama has the power to transform the Arab-Israeli peace process, but if he is to succeed he will need to begin immediately. We – America, Israel, and the entire Jewish people – don’t have another four years to spare.

Meanwhile, Brit Tzedek publishes a letter with 700 rabbis calling on Obama for negotiations now, J Street counts its victories and has Jeremy Ben-Ami in the Forward 50, and the blogoshere erupts in speculation over Rahm Emmanuel’s pro/anti-peace politics. (Apprently, he’s also funny.)

November 19th, 2008, 1:34 pm


Brad said:

Saghir continues to insist on making me a genius. OK, Mr. Smart… who mentioned tables? Or do you really believe the cartoons of Alex?

November 19th, 2008, 2:42 pm


SAGHIR said:

If you want me to spare you the compliment, I will.

Let us start again:

Are you implying that Syria’s foreign policy is now walking on one leg?

November 19th, 2008, 3:03 pm


Brad said:

Saghir asks:
“Are you implying that Syria’s foreign policy is now walking on one leg?”

Foreign policy? You probably meant state sponsored terrorism. I wouldn’t call that a foreign policy. I would rather call it the failed scheme of a dictator regime who now realizes the crumbling of its reliance on proxy terror groups – Today Hamas crunbles and tomorrow Hezballah may follow.

November 19th, 2008, 3:50 pm


norman said:


what do you think about the Bail out of the auto industry, do you think it should be done ?

November 19th, 2008, 3:53 pm


why-discuss said:

Experts Urge Obama To Engage Early On Middle East

2008 As President-elect Barack Obama’s transition staff looks at foreign policy, the Middle East and its many trouble spots will loom large. Some experts are advising Obama and his team to show early engagement in what they see as the region’s core issue: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…..

November 19th, 2008, 3:59 pm


SAGHIR said:


There is no solution. No bailout will be enough for them. Every indusrty is getting destroyed bacause of both a collapase in demand and lack of credit. This is global. Please read the announcement from BASF today.

November 19th, 2008, 4:47 pm


SAGHIR said:


Let me try one last time:

Are you implying that Syria’s “state sponsered terrorism” is now walking on one leg?

November 19th, 2008, 5:13 pm


Brad said:

Saghir continues to read his mind into my ‘genius’. Who implied anything?
You should probably go back and read again from the very beginning – I suggest you read at least three times but the more the better.

November 19th, 2008, 5:56 pm


offended said:

Don’t worry Brad, the miraculous thing about Syria is that even if one leg is cut, a new one will grow right out of the stomp. Probably longer and stronger.

You should be wary of the boner too, it might get you right up the….

November 19th, 2008, 5:58 pm


Leila Abu-Saba said:

A commenter at Col. Lang’s blog congratulates him for the “Josh Landis interview on KGOU”. What?

Was there a radio show w Lang and Landis? It’s not up on the KGOU site that I can see.

Could you post the MP3 somewhere? Pretty please?

Thank you!


November 19th, 2008, 6:56 pm


Off the Wall said:

I love it, what are you implying ?!! 🙂

November 19th, 2008, 7:07 pm


Joshua said:

Dear Leila, There is an interview which has yet to be aired. Next Monday. Will let peopoe know as soon as it is an MP3.

You have a sharp eye!! Joshua

November 19th, 2008, 7:18 pm


Alex said:


Forget my table with the four legs … I read three times and found out that Brad believes the Syrian regime was stupid enough to stand only on Hamas and Hizbollah … apparently there is no Iran, no Qatar, no Turkey, no Russia, no “Arab street” … Syria only “stood” on HA and Hamas

In addition … he believes that the Hamas leg (1 of 2) is practically broken now … that’s it … no more Hamas!

And the stupid Syrians are now limping.

I guess we are now closer to peace … Israel will not ask Syria anymore to terminate its relation (body on a leg?) with Hamas as a precondition for returning to Golan Heights…. and since there was no Iran leg anyway … so what will Israel complain about now?? Syria’s … limping on the poor Hizbollah leg?

November 19th, 2008, 8:06 pm


JustOneAmerican said:

We still have no proof that the Americans killed or captured the “facilitator” Abu Ghadiyya, whom they claim they snagged n the raid. I find it a bit odd that they have not shown us a photo of the man as they did with Saddam or his sons. Why all the secrecy about a raid they claimed as a stunning success and a person they have told us so much about?

The US has not officially acknowledged that a raid even took place, so it doesn’t seem particularly surprising that such evidence would not be released.

FWIW, the IAEA DG report on Syria can be found over at Arms Control Wonk. The uranium found can’t be tied to anything definitive, though the Agency is certainly suspicious enough to ask Syria for access and documentation.

November 19th, 2008, 9:17 pm


Friend in America said:

Here is a more detailed, factual description of the IAEA Report to its Board of Governors.

AEA Issues Tough Report on Alleged Syrian Nuclear Site
Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008

By Greg Webb

Global Security Newswire

U.N. nuclear inspectors have uncovered substantial evidence suggesting Syria was building a covert nuclear reactor before Israel bombed the facility 14 months ago, but they declined to issue a formal conclusion in a report circulated today (see GSN, Nov. 18).

(Nov. 19) – The International Atomic Energy Agency released reports on Syria and Iran today.

The report by International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei details his inspectors’ investigation into the site, which U.S. officials have described as a nearly operational reactor designed with North Korean assistance to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons (see GSN, April 25). The agency assessment draws upon a June visit to the facility, satellite photos taken over the past seven years and laboratory analysis of soil and air samples. ElBaradei distributed the four-page document today to the 35 nations comprising the agency’s Board of Governors, which is scheduled to discuss the issue next week.

Despite the suggestive evidence, ElBaradei and other officials have urged observers not to jump to conclusions.

“The jury is out and we are working busily to resolve what sort of installation it was, whether it was nuclear or military, as the Syrians have claimed,” a senior official close to the U.N. nuclear watchdog said today. On that question, “you have to wait for a while.”

Based on the satellite imagery, the report indicates that construction began in 2001 on the alleged reactor, which was destroyed by an air attack in September 2007. Afterward, Syria razed the site and constructed another structure over the old one, raising Western suspicions that Damascus was trying to conceal the nature of the original plant.

As the suspect building was being erected, it took on characteristics that are very similar to nuclear plants.

“Its containment structure appears to have been similar in dimension and layout to that required for a biological shield for nuclear reactors, and the overall size of the building was sufficient to house the equipment needed for a nuclear reactor of the type alleged,” the report says.

Water piping and pumps found nearby are “adequate for a reactor of the size referred to in the allegation,” the report adds.

Also, the report questions the timing of some of Syria’s “landscaping activities.”

“Analysis of satellite imagery taken of these locations indicates that landscaping activities and the removal of large containers took place shortly after the agency’s request for access,” the report says.

Natural Uranium Found

That activity might have hidden some of the most damning evidence of all: samples of uranium that turned up in soil samples.

“There was quite a lot of landscaping after cleaning the place, so most of these particles were found in places where there was no landscaping,” the senior official said today.

Some soil samples included “a significant number of natural uranium particles,” the report says, ending media speculation about the nature of the material. Experts had questioned whether the uranium had been enriched or depleted, but the report makes clear it was neither.

Furthermore, the uranium was clearly processed and was not in a chemical form found in nature. It was man-made, the report says.

“This type of material should not be there. It’s not part of [the] declared inventory of Syria,” the senior official added.

Natural uranium is the fuel used by a North Korean reactor that U.S. officials have claimed served as the design basis for the alleged Syrian reactor.

The finding would also appear to undermine Syrian claims that the uranium must have been part of the Israeli weapons used to destroy the site. Some antitank ammunition uses depleted uranium to penetrate thick armor, but defense experts have told Global Security Newswire that they are unaware of depleted uranium being used in air-delivered bombs (see GSN, Nov. 12).

“Not one single depleted uranium particle has been found so far,” the senior official said.

ElBaradei asked for greater cooperation from Syria in his report, which describes the nation’s refusal to provide documents describing the bombed facility, which officials in Damascus have claimed was a non-nuclear military site. The report also says that Syria has so far denied requests for agency inspectors to visit three sites which could be related to the alleged reactor.

ElBaradei also criticized the United States and Israel for deciding not to provide the agency with information about the suspected reactor before it was destroyed.

“The agency was severely hampered in discharging its responsibilities … by the unilateral use of force and by the late provision of information concerning the building,” the report says.

The Rebuilt Site

Syria has built a new structure where the old one was bombed, but the senior official refused to describe it in detail.

“I can tell as a former army solider what is inside, but I cannot tell to you,” the official said.

November 19th, 2008, 10:32 pm


Nur al-Cubicle said:

Bailout of auto industry = three month US presence in Iraq. $25 billion is chickenfeed. Look, Putin is preparing a trip to Damascus!

November 20th, 2008, 1:38 am


why-discuss said:

An interesting declaration of Peter Harling ( International Crisis group, located in Syria I guess) in l’Orient-lejour 18 nov 2008 within a conference in Paris of L’Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI) on the theme « L’agenda de l’administration américaine au Moyen-Orient ».

He is positive about Syria’s mutation and subtly critical of the public and private declarations of the lebanese politicians about the syrian army on the northern border…

“Vers d’imminentes négociations directes syro-israéliennes

Peter Harling s’est de son côté attardé sur la manière dont les États-Unis perçoivent la Syrie et son régime. Pendant longtemps, a-t-il dit, « tout le monde martelait que la Syrie n’éprouvait aucun intérêt pour le Golan et que son unique but était d’étendre son hégémonie sur le Liban une nouvelle fois. Le Golan n’était perçu que comme une excuse, un prétexte. Or cela n’est plus vrai ». Preuve en est l’ouverture de négociations indirectes avec Israël par le biais d’une médiation turque. « Les quatre premiers rounds ont été très réussis, et le 5e été suspendu à la demande de la partie israélienne. La Syrie a pour sa part posé des conditions pour le passage vers des négociations directes », a indiqué M. Harling avant de confier que « les deux pays vont pouvoir faire le saut assez rapidement car il est dans l’intérêt du Premier ministre israélien Ehud Olmert. La Syrie est prête à s’y engager, même en l’absence d’une participation immédiate des États-Unis. Cela va se faire rapidement, avant même le départ de Bush ».
Interrogé par L’Orient-Le Jour sur la profondeur de cette mutation syrienne, à la lumière notamment du déploiement des troupes de l’armée syrienne aux frontières nord et est du Liban, M. Harling a indiqué que ce déploiement envoie un double message. « D’abord, contrer les menaces islamistes pour endiguer le triangle Tripoli, Homs, Hama », bastion de l’intégrisme sunnite. « Mais ce n’est pas seulement cela. Ce déploiement répond aussi à une volonté d’envoyer un message fort au Liban. Mais ce qui est très frappant, vu que je reviens d’une tournée au Liban où j’ai rencontré les principaux responsables politiques, c’est le double langage qui s’y tient autour de cette question. En public, ils parlent d’une armée d’invasion alors qu’en privé, ils ne parlent que de quelques centaines. »”

November 20th, 2008, 1:49 am


why-discuss said:

Just One American and Friend in America

The report is as vague and speculative as all the ones IAEA has produced in Iraq and of course they never admitted that their suspicions were unfounded. IAEA is a totally inefficient organization, full of leaks and politically motivated inspectors (the honest ones have left). I consider that in a way they are indirectly responsible for the thousands of dead in the Iraq war and not a word of apology.
Until they press Israel to submit to inspections, I consider their reports are bias and to be ignored.

November 20th, 2008, 2:39 am


Saghir said:

Nur al-Cubicle

Did you really think that the bailout of the auto industry will be addressed with $25 billion?

GM alone needs $50 billion and even that would not ensure its survival.

The $25 billion is basically a bridge working capital loan.

They will back as soon as you sign the check.

The auto industry needs to renegotiate with lenders, workers, suppliers and start all over again after wiping out current common shareholders of course (already mostly done anyway).

November 20th, 2008, 3:06 am


norman said:


I wonder if it is not easier to just buy Toyota from Japan and make it an American car ,


Is it possible that Israel placed the enriched Uranium at the site when they destroyed it to have something to point to Syria, why would Syria allow the inspection if she knew that there was enriched Uranium.

November 20th, 2008, 3:16 am


why-discuss said:


The Israelis are smart enough to have done that, especially in view of the inefficiency and powerless IAEA. This can weaken Syria in the negotiations and also pressures Syria to distance itself from Iran ( the real perceived threat).
Anyway why IAEA does not inquire with North Korea who is supposed to have supplied the ‘nuclear’ site?
Why IAEA did not get from Israel the informations they had that justified the attack? Why they just pressure Syria for more informations when they don’t get any from Israel.

All this is fuzzy and confirm to me that IAEA is inefficient and easily manipulated.

November 20th, 2008, 4:27 am


JustOneAmerican said:


Well, it seems you have something in common with the right wing here in America which views the IAEA exactly as you do. The Agency’s work in Iraq was actually very good, contrary to what you say. They verifiably destroyed what remained of Iraq’s nuclear program (which was a lot) after the 1991 war. The Agency had nothing to do with the 2003 war as it isn’t responsible for chem or bio weapons nor made-up “intel” by the USA.

As for the latest Syria report, well what do you expect when the facility is destroyed before the Agency knows anything about it followed by less than complete cooperation from Syria. The IAEA doesn’t have an intelligence arm to figure stuff out – it relies on member states providing information as well as adhering to the letter and spirit of the NPT and related agreements.

As for Israel, it has not signed the NPT so the IAEA has zero authority there.

November 20th, 2008, 4:53 am


AIG said:

Latest poll gives Likud big edge over Kadima

By Yossi Verter

Tags: Israel News, elections

Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud have had a good three weeks, with no major slips, with brand new faces and with a good press, while Kadima is bleeding and Labor is disintegrating.

The opinion polls are responding in kind: Likud opened a large, decisive lead of six MKs over Kadima. The right-wing bloc, led by Likud, is also firming up in comparison to previous polls, with 64 MKs versus 56 for the center-left. In effect, the right is much stronger than the center left, since its count also includes 11 MKs from the Arab parties: They will not be asked to join the governing coalition and in the current political climate their only use will be as part of a “preventive bloc” in the Knesset.

These numbers are from a Haaretz-Dialog poll of a representative sample of the Israeli public conducted Tuesday under the supervision of Professor Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University’s statistics department. The main question is whether the significant improvement in the Likud’s showing is temporary, the inevitable result of the parade of new players presented by Netanyahu to the media at the rate of one a week – Benny Begin, Dan Meridor, Assaf Hefet and Moshe Ya’alon – or the start of a genuine trend. Only time will tell.

Just three weeks ago, most of the polls predicted a draw between Kadima and Likud, and a near-draw between the blocs. Now Likud is racing forward and is nearing the results of the 2003 election, when Ariel Sharon, who was very popular at the time, scooped up 38 Knesset seats for his party.

But the achievement (in the opinion polls, for now) of Netanyahu is much greater: He is less popular than Sharon was, more controversial than Sharon was, and today’s Likud is the post-2005 split Likud; Sharon’s Likud of 2003 was whole then, and Kadima was just a twinkle in Haim Ramon’s eye.

Once more it must be noted that we are at the start of the campaign. The gloves are still on, Netanyahu has not yet been worked over by Kadima or by Labor. Things could definitely change. But it’s clear that the mood on the Israeli street is plainly in Likud’s favor. Labor isn’t in the game. It’s battling against Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu for the position of fifth-largest party. Potentially, it could lose additional Knesset seats to the new leftist movement coalescing around Meretz to become Israel’s sixth-largest party, and that is likely to spell the end of the Labor Party. In Tuesday’s poll, Meretz gained two seats over the poll carried out three weeks ago, going from five seats to seven, merely for being talked about and without anything significant happening.

This week, former army chief of staff Lieutenant General (res.) Moshe Ya’alon joined Likud. The poll examined his suitability for the post of defense minister compared to Defense Minister Ehud Barak (Labor) and former defense minister Shaul Mofaz (Kadima). Mofaz and Barak are leading by a nose with just a slight edge to Mofaz and Ya’alon in third place. More could have been expected from Ya’alon: After all, this was his week. The spotlight was on him, Barak is unpopular, and it was also a week of Qassams in Sderot, Ashkelon and the Gaza-border communities. That probably did not help Barak’s numbers any.

The full survey will be published in Week’s End on Friday.

November 20th, 2008, 5:03 am


Off the Wall said:


I agree with your statement regarding the IAEA capabilities and their performance in Iraq. The problem is that in every report, they kept slipping in words about needing ever more cooperation from whichever country they are investigating. These whining calls for more cooperations serve as a smoke screen to allow the establishment of inhumane sanction regimes as well as for military interference.

IAEA never argued that Iraq has been fully in compliance despite of their own excellent verification, the continued to whin about this cooperation, and by that gave those who knew that Iraq did not have any WMD, an excuse to lie about that and to argue that Iraq is hiding something. IAES should have said, we have destroyed iraq apabilities to build WMDs, and that is the end of it. But I guess, political pressure, which is always an issue in drafting resolutions and findings in any intergovernmetal organization (I am talking from personal experience) was stronger than the will of IAEA professional civil servants.

November 20th, 2008, 6:12 am


Rumyal said:

The PA gets it! They are going to address directly the Israeli people, bypassing the manipulative leaders and MSM. I hope Syria follows suit…


PA to publish first-ever ads in Hebrew explaining Arab peace plan

By Avi Issacharoff

Tags: Israel news, peace plan

The Palestinian Authority is publishing for the first time on Thursday advertisements in the Hebrew-language Israeli press that present the details of the Arab peace plan.

The Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee, Yasser Abed Rabbo, said Wednesday that the ads are aimed at explaining the details of the Arab League initiative to the Israeli public in an effort to persuade Israelis to support it.

Abed Rabbo added that Israelis are totally unfamiliar with the details of the plan, which is also known as the Beirut plan. He said they have heard only partial, distorted explanations of it from senior Israeli officials who have in the past attacked every peace initiative, Arab or Palestinian.

According to Abed Rabbo, the PA will make it clear to anyone in Israel who desires normalization with the Arab world that the initiative requires an end to the Israeli occupation, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and an agreed resolution of the refugee issue in accordance with United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194.

Palestinian sources stated that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas views the Arab peace initiative as the best tool for resolving the Arab-Israeli problem. But PA officials felt that not all of the Israeli public, or even all of its politicians, are familiar with the details of the plan.

After consultations in Ramallah, MK Ahmed Tibi, United Arab List-Ta’al Knesset whip, was charged with overseeing the project. A decision was made to place advertisements in the four largest Hebrew-language newspapers as well as in the Palestinian press. The ad will contain the text, in Hebrew, of the initiative, surrounded by the flags of the 57 Muslim states and the logos of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and of the Arab League, which approved the initiative. The direct appeal by the Palestinian Authority to the Israeli public, over the heads of the Israeli leadership, is being seen by observers as an extraordinary event.

November 20th, 2008, 6:30 am


Brad said:

OK Alex, forget about your table. So you’re now saying Syria is actually a crocodile but a terrorist crocodile nontheless that can do with two less legs. That sounds reasonably accurate.
And OFFENDED seems to be hungry for bones just like his kins.

November 20th, 2008, 6:42 am


Shai said:


Excellent comment! I was just talking about it with someone yesterday. But the absurd is, that the ones that figured this out (talking to the Israeli public) are precisely the ones that can’t deliver…! Imagine if Hamas did the same thing! Absolutely, Syria should follow this example. I’d pay good money to sit next to the Yediot Ahronot editor when he gets the call from Damascus: “Yes, we’d like to place a few ads in your paper…” 🙂

November 20th, 2008, 6:43 am


Shai said:

“The direct appeal by the Palestinian Authority to the Israeli public, over the heads of the Israeli leadership, is being seen by observers as an extraordinary event.”

To all the skeptics out there (most of us), don’t underestimate either the power of marketing, or the people who will be on the receiving end. The main difference between governments and large corporations, is that the latter are usually much smarter. And if so, we can learn a thing or two about how corporations influence consumer decisions. Seems the PA understands this.

November 20th, 2008, 6:53 am


Alex said:

Rumyal, Shai,

Don’t be surprised if Syria approved, or even discussed, and fine tuned the ads with President Abbas during one of his many recent visits to Damascus.

His PA can communicate with the Israeli people without having to endure the ridicule of the Saudi owned Arab press like Syria would.

Even Mubarak, who already made peace with Israel, can not visit Israel or communicate that openly with the Israeli people.

I’ll take the PA ads for now… if by early to mid 2009 there is a decision in Israel and there is clarity in Washington, then Syria better take more chances.

November 20th, 2008, 7:00 am


Shai said:


We typically expect decisions in a country to be made from the top down. But when you wait for that to happen, and you give it not a year or two, but 30, and nothing happens, you have to consider either changing tactics altogether, or adding new ones. I can’t say for sure that speaking directly to the Israeli public will change the required 20% over to the peace camp, but I can say that certain things could have dramatic effects, certainly on the emotional realms (which, I happen to believe, are the REAL barriers).

We can wait for Obama, and we can pray that Bibi is as he was in August 1998 when he sent Lauder to offer Hafez full withdrawal from the Golan. But again, that’s hoping first that the leaderships will reach the right conclusions, and second that they’ll be able to convince their people to support them. I say, why wait. Why not move in parallel? Start “talking” to the Israelis (journalist-exchanges, etc.), and also talk to Bibi/Livni’s advisers if/when they are interested.

I understand the concerns of Syria. I understand leaders in the Arab world fear the effects of Saudi media on the Arab street. But in a way, Bashar has already crossed over that imaginary line of recognition of the Zionist state. He doesn’t say “Let’s make peace with the Jews” – he says “Let’s make peace with Israel”. So talking to Israelis in Turkish hotels, when the whole world knows about it is ok, but being interviewed by an Israeli journalist, in Damascus, isn’t?

I really don’t understand this whole thing about visiting Israel (Mubarak, Bashar, etc.) By setting foot in Jerusalem, they are showing their acceptance of the Occupation, more than by signing a separate peace agreement without a full comprehensive solution first?

The whole Arab world has already made the decision – they’re not waiting for the Palestinians. If Israel withdraws tomorrow from the Golan, Syria will sign a peace agreement with her. And chances are so will Lebanon, and many other Arab states. It is a myth, to think that every Arab leader cares as much about the Palestinians, as about his own people, or certainly his own regime. I can understand, that neither Assad nor Mubarak, feel like getting a wake-up-call one day from some Al Qaeda operative. That’s another story… and I can’t argue with it, except to say that leaders are expected to be more courageous than you and I are, and by the very nature of their “business”, they are always susceptible to assassination. This is true not only in Syria and Egypt, but also in Israel, the United States, and elsewhere, as we’ve seen.

November 20th, 2008, 7:22 am


Alex said:


If you are still here, check the new poll I just created.

And check how I voted too : )

November 20th, 2008, 8:01 am


Shai said:


At the risk of paying a price later (by having you guys not talk to me), I want to make my point using SC as an example. Why are you, Alex, Norman, OTW, JAD, Offended, Zenobia, Ford Prefect, Alia, Naji, Saghir, and so many others, communicating with me? Not because of my pretty blue eyes, that’s for sure. It’s because you want to reach out to me, as much as I want to reach out to you. It’s because you understand, just as I do, that the time for silence is over. We cannot leave our fate in the hands of self-interested politicians and leaders. We must “invest” in many other initiatives, no matter where they are, or what they look like. This is why you’re also talking to AP, despite the fact that he disagrees with 90% of what is said here by most.

And why do you engage AIG, who refuses to even condemn the Occupation? Is it our of mere Syrian hospitality, and politeness? I image, and hope, that it’s not. So if tens of regular commentators, from Syria and from other Arab countries, can communicate and find a purpose and benefit for doing so, with Israelis from the entire political spectrum, why can’t the Syrian leadership do the same? Isn’t there some absurdity in continuing to talk to people who have demonstrated their inability (perhaps even reluctance) to deliver peace, yet refuse to talk to those who elect them, and their replacements? In my book, that’s always putting all your eggs in one basket, and a basket that has failed for over 30 years!

Again, look at yourself, and see what makes you talk to us here, on SC. The same should apply to talking to the Israeli public, in the real world.

November 20th, 2008, 8:08 am


Shai said:

Here’s a point to consider:

Perhaps real-peace has failed, because agreements were signed, before the people themselves were ready for them. If Israelis and Egyptians were talking before 1979, perhaps our society could have understood that while the Egyptian people are seeking peace, they cannot end their hatred and suspicion towards Israelis, as long as we continue to occupy and subjugate their Palestinian brethren. Dialog would have enabled this to penetrate through. But look at what’s happened – a peace agreement was signed, and people like AIG still think it failed because there’s no democracy in Egypt! Why does he think that? Because chances are, he never in his life talked to a single Egyptian person, certainly not in the 1970’s or early 80’s.

The Palestinian leaders today are even saying that Israelis simply do not know what the Arab Initiative is all about. That we’ve only been told what our leadership wanted us to know (sounds familiar?) Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not completely false. The best people to present an initiative, are the initiators themselves, not their interpreters.

The best way to make Israelis understand Syria, is to speak to them directly, not through Bibi or Livni, or the BBC and CNN.

November 20th, 2008, 8:26 am


Off the Wall said:

Rumyal, Shai, and Alex

Speaking of precedents (on the other thread), the PA add is definitely a positive precedent.

Shai, I would not be surprized is someone in the PA has been reading your calls for smarter arab media relations. I think that it is exetremely important for all to recognize that each of us is the other’s customer as we market peace.

You are right, we want to reach out to you, we recognize that the time of silence is over. I sure hope that the Syrian leadership takes your calls seriously.

I just checked the votes, we have unanymous (so far). I hope that this is not the opressive type of unanimity I have mentioned beofre 🙂

November 20th, 2008, 8:32 am


jad said:

Dear Shai, just a quick note before I leave for tonight.
The problem is that both ‘Abou ahmad’ and ‘Yaakov’ (not sure what to call the average Joe of Israel) mistrust each other so much that even mentioning someone’s name in front of the other will make them nervous.
Both of them don’t want to accept the other as his neighbour or long lasting cousin and to make it wors ‘Yaakov’ keep beating ‘Abou hamad’ brother 24/7…

November 20th, 2008, 8:32 am


jad said:

Shai, to prove my point, check out the vote, you have 14% of the voters are totally against any visit of the Israeli journalist….
I wonder who would vote that???? (I’m sorry Alex, I couldn’t resist)

November 20th, 2008, 8:41 am


Alex said:


Although I voted the same way you did, I am a bit less enthusiastic about the results of this communication process.

It depends … we have been communicating with you, Rumyal, AP and AIG

You and Rumyal came here wanting to give Syrians a chance to make you like us and trust us… and after communicating with us, you both did.

AP came here to to explain to us that we are terror supporters and that Israel’s bad actions pale in comparison to those Arab terrorists and the states and people that support terror (including the “intellectuals” on this blog) … and two years later, AP is still making the same statement*

AIG came here to tell us to forget about peace (and the Golan obviously) until … Syria is “a democracy” … and he is still stuck to that same position he had on day 1.

So my question is … how many Israelis are like AIG? like AP? or like Shai and Rumyal?

From the 70% opposed to the withdrawal from the Golan, how many can be potentially influenced by an interview with Mouallem?

Look at the thousand articles we posted here by American and European journalists who visited Syria and had “a conversion” … they realized that Syrians are wonderful people, nothing like the image they got from the biased (or lazy) media coverage of Syria.

YET … AIG and AP are minimally influenced by all those testimonials by neutral westerners … one would not expect them to be influenced positively by an interview with Bashar …. AIG will have one reaction any thing Bashar says in that interview “You are a blatant liar!”

Let’s ask AP, who is a bit more flexible than AIG .. would you allow Bashar to influence you through an interview with Haaretz? .. or would you be even more suspicious that he is playing tricks and that the only thing that can earn your trust is Syria’s compliance with the preconditions of terminating its relations with Hizbollah, Hamas and Iran?

November 20th, 2008, 8:50 am


Shai said:


Excellent. That’s a very legitimate question to ask AP. But you know what, though I completely agree with you about AIG, I do wish to have you recall a statement he made once, earlier this year, about the unlikelihood of Bashar ever coming to Jerusalem. And you know what else he said? That if Bashar DID somehow manage to come, that he, AIG, would certainly be willing to change his mind about Syria (meaning the Syrian leadership). You see, that’s the whole point. When Israelis face unexpected things, like a visit, or even an interview with an Israeli journalist, they are willing to listen carefully, and to reconsider their own beliefs.

You cannot seriously expect AIG or AP, or Yaakov, to be impressed by some Western officials, diplomats, journalists, who are converted when visiting Syria in person. HOWEVER, if an Israeli visits Syria in person, you can bet your bottom dollar, that he/she will be even more converted (more effected emotionally, and impressed), and will be able to present it differently to the Israeli public. Obviously the same if a Syria visited Israel.

Interaction is a must. The sooner we understand this, the faster we’ll reach our common goals.

(p.s. I refer you back to my comment about the difference between AP and AIG. AP is far more representative of those 70% against peace, than AIG is.)

November 20th, 2008, 8:58 am


Alex said:


Again, I am for trying to communicate with the Israeli people .. simply because there is really nothing to lose.

But …

1) AIG argued repeatedly that only if there is democracy in Syria will he feel comfortable that a peace agreement is between the Syrian people and Israel … not simply an agreement with a dictator who is hated by his people (as AIG believes).

would he drop this conviction after a public relations stunt by Assad?… would he turn into “a useful idiot”?

2) AIG’s democracy condition is simply a tool for him to portray himself as a reasonable person … he is opposed to returning the Golan NOT because he wants to keep it (since Israel won its last two wars against Syria) but because he wants to make sure peace is done right … that’s all.

But he knows Syria will not become “a democracy” for years and years.

The same applies to Bashar;s interview … he knows Bashar will not do it .. so he can afford to say “if Bashar does that interview, i will show you how reasonable and peace loving I am)

November 20th, 2008, 9:19 am


Rumyal said:


>>> But the absurd is, that the ones that figured this out (talking to the Israeli public) are precisely the ones that can’t deliver…! Imagine if Hamas did the same thing!

The secular Palestinian leaders are very high caliber people, while Hamas is a group of religious zealots so why would it be surprising that this is the case? The Palestinian moderates could have moved ahead decades ago with Israel if they weren’t shackled by other Arab countries and their NO’s. Hamas on the other hand will never be able to do the same thing first because they don’t believe in long-lasting peace and second because they will never have the creativity or the necessary background to craft a message that would be palatable to the other side.

I still can’t believe that the Palestinians chose these zealots over Fatah and I still harbor the hope they’ll wake up soon. Israel has propped Hamas and did everything it can to stifle the moderates. Of course Israel is now paying the price. But I just can’t believe that the Palestinians couldn’t see through this ploy. I’m sorry I just saw the movie Persepolis and don’t feel like I could be PC towards religious regimes right now.

Still, Israel should talk to them if possible. You can’t vote for your neighbors…

November 20th, 2008, 9:31 am


Shai said:


But again, AIG is NOT representative of 99.999% of Israelis, I’m sorry to shock any of you who thought otherwise… AP is much more representative, because he makes no demand on Syria that has anything to do with democracy. No Israeli citizen, no Israeli politician, and no Israeli leader, has EVER made AIG’s preconditions to peace – NONE! And because most of those 70% ARE more similar to AP, a significant message, if delivered directly to them by the highest levels, could have a substantial effect. I guarantee you, that if AP was to be addressed in an interview by Assad given to Yoav Stern (or a more accepted journalist in Israel), he would certainly reconsider some of his beliefs. With all due respect, when you or OTW try to change his mind, it has a different effect, because there’s very different weight behind it.

But there is yet another difference between AP and most Israelis, which is, that most here have never really spoken to an Arab. They don’t know if Damascus is to the north, or south, of Homs. They don’t know if Riyadh is to the east, or west, of Jeddah. They don’t know if Syria has more Alawite or Shias. They don’t know how much the average Syrian makes. They don’t know what the average Syrian even looks, or sounds like. And personally, I think it’s high time we did. So if we can’t learn about you in person, let us do so via our own journalists, who will speak our language back to us, who’ll report how they saw and felt things, not how some Kuwaiti reporter, of a BBC one did.

And yes, eventually, I’d want to see other realms explored. Such as cultural exchanges, for instance. Again, if India and Pakistan can do it, and they are no less bitter-enemies than Israel and Syria are, then why can’t we? Their leaders understood that by investing in these areas as well, they are investing in the future potential for peace. They are investing in the security of their children, whether peace is achieved quickly or not. It isn’t forbidden to learn from others… and we should.

November 20th, 2008, 9:34 am


Rumyal said:


(The average Joe in Israel is “moyshe” but that’s a little bit of an anachronism as this name isn’t that popular anymore. The most common masculine name in Israel today is probably Guy.)

You’re correct. Just seeing the name “Yasser Abed Rabbo” signed on the ad would send the chill down the spine of many Israelis. But that’s the way you make it go away: you stick it in their face until the strange becomes familiar. I admire them for giving it a shot.

November 20th, 2008, 9:38 am


Shai said:


I agree, but from speaking to Palestinians over the past two years, I hear that the main reason for not voting Fatah was their high level of corruption. Hamas was offering something different, something more “kosher”, and the majority of the Palestinians bought it. What no one anticipated, was that democracy would not be upheld at any price, and when threatened, Hamas reacted in the only way it knew how, by force. But even today, Hamas is still trusted as the least-corrupt party. Fatah had ruined all the chances it had, since the PA was created. This of course is a critical lesson to be learned, before we go asking the Europeans to hand out cash to various leaderships. When there’s little or no regulation, it’s almost an absurd to expect no corruption to take place.

November 20th, 2008, 9:40 am


Rumyal said:

>>> They don’t know what the average Syrian even looks, or sounds like

That’s right, but at least now we know what their lingerie looks like 🙂

November 20th, 2008, 9:43 am


Shai said:


It’s night time where you are, and I can see what you’re thinking about, so I’ll forgive you… 🙂

November 20th, 2008, 9:46 am


Rumyal said:


I’m a little bit skeptic but also a little bit optimistic. There are signs in both directions. First, Shai is correct most Israelis are dissimilar to AIG. To boot, AIG is a very disciplined person (in his own unique way…). Most people (everywhere in the world) are much less calculated and much more emotional. When Saadat came to Israel it was like a miracle that swept almost everybody regardless of their declared political opinions of yesterday. Oslo was also similar although Arafat couldn’t inspire the same level of trust that Saadat did. People have very good instincts that allow them to discern who’s sincere and who isn’t. If Assad really believes in peace, it will show through his discourse. If he isn’t, he won’t be able to hide it. From what I have seen over the last two years it seems highly unlikely that he is insincere and even the head of Israeli intelligence shares the same opinion.

(Here’s how to measure… Check out “Honest Signals”

The concern that a commitment to peace is only Assad’s and not the people’s is a big one, especially after the Israeli public has had some experience with “cold peace” and Oslo breakdown (and that’s were skepticism would come from). I would address this head-on by interviewing people on the street, bringing both the positive and the negative that they had to say about the topic. I don’t think that the Israeli public is incapable of hearing rational criticism. What the Israeli public is afraid of is that the man on the street has burning hatred that could never be pacified, and if this is indeed the case, then why should we fool ourselves into signing treaties that will never hold? This is basically AIG’s position but unlike AIG I believe the typical Israeli will be affected by evidence—if you can show it. And if the people demonstrate that the peace would be cold, that’s good to know too. I don’t think anybody would benefit in the long run from lack of transparency.

November 20th, 2008, 10:25 am


Rumyal said:


Yalla khalas halakhti lishon…

November 20th, 2008, 10:33 am


Alia said:


[Look at the thousand articles we posted here by American and European journalists who visited Syria and had “a conversion” … they realized that Syrians are wonderful people, nothing like the image they got from the biased (or lazy) media coverage of Syria.]

I have not seen thousand of articles, but I have noted privately to myself that this is the case, in the last few days -although the Beaumont article was to my mind really superficial and for superficial media consumption: ex: Twice we are told that the wife of the president is English-born (Emma) and the best times of his life is his marriage…really, the President over 17-19 millions of mostly wretched creatures!!! this is not high political analyis-

Anyway, I wonder if the excessive demonization is leading just to an extreme relief when the journalists are not seeing actually a hoof-footed creature standing in front of them- and hence he giddiness of the approach.

The fact remains that this is a dictator and as Truthquest correctly pointed out, he needs a better circle to hang out with than the corrupt circle of his family to show some credibility, at least to his own people. So the question remains : Can he? Is he able to cut all those corrupt inner ties and make better judgments internally crossing the party line completely towards people who have competencies? Or is he shackled by his legacy?

Once Peace is reached with Israel now or later, the people are still having to live through this state of things.

November 20th, 2008, 11:30 am


Alia said:


Sometimes we may agree with the right wing and at others with the left wing radicals…We are actually not agrreing with anyone, we are reaching our own conlcusions. If there is anything we are familiar with in the ME, it is political manipulation of facts. The Bush admisnistration introduced a new level of such to the majority of unspuspecting politically unsophisticated people. OTW’s response is the only “factual” response- The reports of the IAEA have been openly manipulated- Hans Blix and Scott Ritter and others have tried in vain to correct the spin that was put on their reports in Iraq and were effectively silenced by the clamours for wars.

November 20th, 2008, 11:38 am


Alia said:

Norman, OTW and Jad,

The two party U.S. political system developed from the time of the founder fathers and has some to a standstill in the last few decades. There is no political imperative for it to remain so…in addition, the spectrum of representation of each party is so wide within the one party that one wonders why those people all belong to the same party.

Presently, the left decomcrats are gradually feeling disenchanted with the increasingly Clintonian looking White House – while they were hoping that their common candidate well return back from his increasingly centrist position to an earlier more liberal leaning one. But we know form his political biography that Obama ” although driven by an activist heart, was no radical….overtime he tends to move within the established political order ( adapted from David Mendell’s Bio of Obama)

I do not see that a 2 party system is easily applicable in Syria.

Soemone ( Shai?) mentioned earlier that knowing people who live in a democracy is conducive to supporting democracy. Actually, I would argue that living under democratic rules with clear limits and boundaries on everyone, fair and open participation, is the way to go towards instilling democratic values and encouraging people to uphold democracy- that, along with a vigourous and relentless fight against corruption on all levels. This is the civic learning process everywhere ( Jad look at Germany post-WW II :))_

November 20th, 2008, 11:54 am


offended said:

Alia, thank you so much for the enlightening posts and for taking the time to articulate your thoughts. We may not disagree hugely on the vision of what an eventual democratic Syria might look like. But worries me right now, and what I think is a laborious and mighty task is the transition.

– How can we guarantee secular governance?
– How can we make sure that the system won’t be squashed by a military coup?
– How can we guarantee that the position of Syria itself in the region, as a major supporter for the Palestinian cause, won’t be undermined during such transition?
– How can we accommodate the various political undercurrents within the Syrian society without leading to head-on collisions in the process?

I am not trying to make the task look daunting or anything, but we should really answer those tough questions before anything else.

November 20th, 2008, 12:15 pm


JustOneAmerican said:

OTW and Alia,

I don’t want to hijack the thread but wanted to make a couple of points.

First, the IAEA is different than UNSCOM, which was the agency created to verifiably get rid of Saddam’s WMD. UNSCOM had much more authority than the IAEA because it was created to enforce an armistice.

Second, Iraq signed that armistice ending the 1991 war which it lost and lost badly. Immediately after signing, Iraq began to break every provision of that armistice. One of those provisions was full cooperation with UNSCOM in verifiably dismantling all its WMD. Iraq did something quite different, however. It secretly destroyed its weapons and then went to extraordinary efforts to impede the very verification and inspection regime required by the armistice. Who’s fault was that? If we are to believe you, Alia and others, the fault lies with UNSCOM, the IAEA and the USA and not, apparently, Iraq and Saddam Hussein. UNSCOM, blocked and impeded by Iraq from carrying out its legal mandate at every turn, are “whiners” for asking for more cooperation – cooperation that is legally required. That’s a quite interesting and completely backwards viewpoint.

Third, Saddam, not the sanctions, were the source of inhumanity. Saddam purposely starved and denied medicine to certain parts of his population is order to garner international sympathy (it’s still working I guess!), strengthen his regime and punish his enemies. In addition, Saddam got billions illegally selling oil outside the oil for food program. Where did that money get spent? Weapons mostly, not on saving Iraqi children, that’s for sure. Saddam decides to let his people starve and buy palaces and weapons. Who’s to blame? Not Saddam – the west and their inhumane sanctions! You seriously believe that?

Alia, you talk about political manipulation of the facts. That’s an excellent point and it saddens me that many still seem to buy into the fantasy that the sanctions were responsible for starving children in Iraq. It saddens me that so many still believe that the UN/UNSCOM/IAEA are to blame for the Iraq war when it was Saddam failing to live up to obligations he incurred from a war he started and then lost.

It’s not like these facts are hidden. We know now from interviews with Saddam himself, Tariq Aziz, “Chemical” Ali and other senior regime leaders exactly what Saddam’s strategy was: It was to simultaneously convince one audience (the international community) he did not have WMD while convincing another (Israel, Iran, the Arab “steet.”) that he still did. His basic strategy was to deny inspectors any hard evidence of WMD while keeping the illusion he still had them. His strategy was to keep the expertise and rebuild all his programs once sanctions were gone, all while maintaining ambiguity about whether he might still have weapons hidden somewhere.

For many years inspectors could not understand why Saddam secretly destroyed his chemical weapons after the 1991 war instead of bringing the inspectors in to watch (as he was required to do). We now know that he did not want them verifiably destroyed because he did not want to remove all doubt. He wanted ambiguity. His strategy was so effective that almost all the Iraq military leadership we captured during the 2003 war were convinced the country still had WMD.

So the one person who could have prevented the disastrous 2003 war was Saddam. If he’d lived up to the armistice he signed there would have been no justification for an invasion because there wouldn’t be any ambiguity into which the neocons could plant the seeds to start the war.

Yet despite these facts people continue to believe that UN agencies are “whiners” for attempting to get legally required cooperation. People continue to blame the ambiguity of their judgments on deficiencies in those agencies instead of the government and dictator that created the ambiguity by failing to meet its obligations and by purposely pursing a policy of obfuscation. Saddam must be laughing in his grave at this.

November 20th, 2008, 3:58 pm


Off the Wall said:

Dear Offended
Thes are extremely good and pointed questions, i will take a shot at answering the first one for now:

– How can we guarantee secular governance?

1. You enshrine secularism in the constitution, either in the preamble or ala-American model, by defining a bill of rights that prohibit the state from sponsoring and favoring religious organizations. To be fair, the constitution can not prohibit the establishment of parties along religious of ethnic lines, but it can prohibit members of these parties, when achieving power through election, from favoring their religion or ethnic group. Enshrining secularism can also be strengthened by acknowledging and embracing the pluralism of Syria and defining the country’s self image as a country of many stripes. This is where the preamble comes in.

2. You establish a very competent supreme court, that is either elected or like many other countries, nominated by the president, and confirmed or otherwise by the parliament. You need that court to be highly visible and that can be accomplished by making confirmation hearings public and by encouraging the hearing committee to delve deep into the candidates philosophical and judicial background. A strong religious commitment from the candidate is not a disqualifier, but acting upon it on the bench is, let the parliament decide.

3. You also allow lower courts to decide on the legality of the actions of any political party. You do not need to establish a political court, but you should allow courts at certain level to adjudicate political matters in rather legalistic manner. To avoid the misuse and abuse of these courts, you establish a highly vetted and independent review board that looks into each political law suit before allowing it to proceed. The board can not and should not influence the ruling of the court, but it can clean out frivolous law suits. Once norms are established, the board can be dissolved and the decision on the merit of the case can be left to the judges as they should be. Part and parcel of this is to establish hefty fines including suspension of activities until the matter is addressed. No jail time should be dished out unless a crime is committed, and in that case, the matter is not settled by civil law suite but by a prosecutorial action from the local district attorney or “manager of justice” in the locality on behalf of the people of Syria. For example, criminal electoral intimidation and fraud, are issues to be settled by criminal court not by civil court. But advocating one candidate or collecting campaign contributions for a political party in a mosque, a church, or temple, is a civil issue, which will risk the protected status of the said institution.

4. You downgrade the ministry of religious affairs (awqaf) from a cabinet position to an independent entity but retain the president right to appoint its head and high level executives. The only role of this entity would be to facilitate each group or locality’s management of their huge trust funds and real-estate in legal and accountable manner. Then you move, carefully and slowly towards the eventual abolishment of the official role of the Grand Mufti. The two actions will later ensure that even if a religiously motivated party achieves power through elections, it will have no government mechanism to enforce religious views other than the legally accepted way and that these parties can not divert government resources for dawa, religious education, or through simply gifting tax payer monies to strengthen religious institutions. The only acceptable fund for these institutions should come from the people directly. There are also some good models in Europe and I hope that some expats in Europe will shed light on these models as alternatives to what I am writing here.

5. You establish a strong law that prohibits the incitement of hatred, and you enforce it very effectively as a criminal issue. But what constitutes hate speech must be very clearly articulated in the law as such law can also be used by the government to stifle freedom of speech.

These are some of the things, which I think can make it easier to govern in secular manner. We want to be secular, but we should not use secularism as an anti-religion dogma. Off course educational campaigns must proceed and accompany these actions.

November 20th, 2008, 4:49 pm


Alia said:


I did not bring up Saddam here, nor did I bring up the “whiners” at the U.N.- although I could speak- as many could here- about the heavy double standard in the Security Council resolutions that are vetoed or just plain ignored when Israel is being restricted. So I am wondering why you are bringing them up and being so defensive about them?

UNSCOM was working with the International Atomic Energy on the matter.

This is an excerpt of an interview between Seymour Hersh and Scott Ritter for The Nation in October 2005, going beyond your point to speak about how everyone knew that there no WMD , Saddam’s lies notwihstanding, but the agenda was for war, and war it was going to be:

[MR. HERSH: One of the things that’s overwhelming to me is the notion that everybody believed before March of ’03 that Saddam had weapons. This is just urban myth. The fact of the matter is that, in talking to people who worked on the UNSCOM and also in the International Atomic Energy Agency, they were pretty much clear by ’97 that there was very little likelihood that Saddam had weapons. And there were many people in our State Department, in the Department of Energy, in the CIA who didn’t believe there were weapons. And I think history is going to judge the mass hysteria we had about Saddam and weapons. And one of the questions that keeps on coming up now is why didn’t Saddam tell us. Did he tell us?

MR. RITTER: Well, of course he told us. Look, let’s be honest, the Iraqis were obligated in 1991 to submit a full declaration listing the totality of their holdings in WMD, and they didn’t do this. They lied. They failed to declare a nuclear weapons program, they failed to declare a biological weapons programs, and they under-declared their chemical and ballistic missile capabilities. Saddam Hussein intended to retain a strategic deterrent capability, not only to take care of Iran but also to focus on Israel. What he didn’t count on was the tenacity of the inspectors. And very rapidly, by June 1991, we had compelled him into acknowledging that he had a nuclear weapons programs, and we pushed him so hard that by the summer of 1991, in the same way that a drug dealer who has police knocking at his door, flushes drugs down a toilet to get rid of his stash so he could tell the cops, “I don’t have any drugs,” the Iraqis, not wanting to admit that they lied, flushed their stash down the toilet.

They blew up all their weapons and buried them in the desert, and then tried to maintain the fiction that they had told the truth. And by 1992 they were compelled again, because of the tenacity of the inspectors, to come clean. People ask why didn’t Saddam Hussein admit being disarmed? In 1992 they submitted a declaration that said everything’s been destroyed, we have nothing left. In 1995 they turned over the totality of their document cache. Again, not willingly, it took years of inspections to pressure them, but the bottom line is by 1995 there were no more weapons in Iraq, there were no more documents in Iraq, there was no more production capability in Iraq because we were monitoring the totality of Iraq’s industrial infrastructure with the most technologically advanced, the most intrusive arms control regime in the history of arms control.

And furthermore, the CIA knew this, the British intelligence knew this, Israeli intelligence knew this, German intelligence, the whole world knew this. They weren’t going to say that Iraq was disarmed because nobody could say that, but they definitely knew that the Iraqi capability regarding WMD had been reduced to as near to zero as you could bring it, and that Iraq represented a threat to no one when it came to weapons of mass destruction. ]

This is the link to the whole article :

November 20th, 2008, 4:50 pm


Alia said:

Dear Offended,

Thank you. I see that OTW has given you a nice outline- and many possibilities for further directions..

I will say at the present time, that, the most difficult step in any project is the identification of a clear goal, with the implication that there is an a priori absolute will to achieve it. The steps that lead to the goal are all just a matter of problem-solving, and we are all problem-solvers in our various capacities.
The other thing is that none of it is a one shot deal, that is why great political figures, worked many years at constant revisions and corrections along the way.

Every single point that you have brought up has been already fought by others successfully, in the Arab, Muslim world or elsewhere. We have been brainwashed to believe that our obstacles are insurmountable and that we are destined to live under this rule. But that is not true. This brainwashing is for the sole benefit of the regime.
What have they done all those years? Protect us from Israel? NO they have not. Bring a national reconciliation? NO they have not. Solve any of the issues that existed before they came? No. Create more problems for our future ? :Yes.

It is doable, I am telling you-:)

I too must get some work done- till later.

November 20th, 2008, 5:04 pm


SimoHurtta said:

What have they done all those years? Protect us from Israel? NO they have not. Bring a national reconciliation? NO they have not. Solve any of the issues that existed before they came? No. Create more problems for our future ? :Yes

What I would say the “not liked” Arab countries and leaders have been after WW2 been more active in trying to unite the Arab countries and creating a real social change. What ever we say from Saddam he westernised Iraq and brought many of the rights of the modern society to the people. Only the western pressure forced him to more “religious governing style”.

What USA and Israel have shown many times they are much more afraid of progressive leaders in the region (Arab nationalism and socialism). In their interest are medieval lazy dictators, who keep their countries weak and fragmented. The sad thing is that they also make their best to crush fast any raising more or less democratic leadership or ideology.

Syria and Iran are not worse in the aspect of human rights and democracy as Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia etc. In many aspects even better. The difference is in their attitude towards the big brother (on the other side of Atlantic piloted form Tel Aviv).

What Arab countries needs is are a new Marx and Nasser. A new less religiously weighted ideology, popular movements and strong independent leaders.

November 20th, 2008, 6:13 pm


JustOneAmerican said:


It was OTW who used the “whiner” term.

I hear “double-standards” listed as an excuse for almost everything these days, even my kids who complain that their friends get to watch more TV than they do. Crying double-standards doesn’t do much except avoid the reality staring at you.

Regardless, there isn’t the double-standard here you see. The armistice after the Iraq war was not just a UNSC resolution – it was a negotiated agreement ending hostilities signed and agreed to by the State of Iraq. That is quite different from a UNSC resolution demanding a country do something that it has not agreed to do. It’s not nearly the same thing as the UNSC resolutions demanding Iran stop enriching, for example, since Iran never agreed to or signed a treaty that gave up its right to enrichment. See the difference?

November 20th, 2008, 7:19 pm


trustquest said:

You said : “What USA and Israel have shown many times they are much more afraid of progressive leaders in the region (Arab nationalism and socialism). In their interest are medieval lazy dictators, who keep their countries weak and fragmented. The sad thing is that they also make their best to crush fast any raising more or less democratic leadership or ideology. “
Amen to that, but the rest of the comment I could not infer what you are trying to say.
Do you mean that reform and the struggle of civil society is not necessary because it undermines and distracts those dictators from their job in defending their state against the imperialist and the Zionists.
Just clear it up please.

November 20th, 2008, 7:49 pm


Jad said:

I’m with Alia and OTW on the double standard issue of those international organizations, and I don’t understand why you are so defensive?
It’s a common sense that any international organisation with power is going to take sides regardless of right or wrong, fair or unjust, it has always been and it will continue to be this way, the powerful decide.
Secondly, and regardless of the way you want to frame the whole Iraqi issue, it was and still the UN and its organization as well as the IAEA are responsible equally if not more than Saddam himself for the misery of Iraq. Not to mention that the UN is a partners in the Palestinian tragedy.

November 20th, 2008, 11:27 pm


norman said:

OTW,Alia, Jad, offended , Alex, WD , Saghir and Aussama,

One big question which might be insulting to some,

Does Syria needs Democracy to improve the lives of the Syrian people which should the goal of any government.?

Of 300 million Americans Obama won by only 65 million voting for him , still we can manage to live and prosper no matter who is in power ,

I think that the American Legal and economic Systems are more important and should be a priority in Syria,

Any thoughts?.

November 21st, 2008, 1:15 am


Alia said:


[Crying double-standards doesn’t do much except avoid the reality staring at you.]

Reality does not stare at us, we stare at it, and most of the time each one of us sees what he wants to see or even better what he can bear to see.

November 21st, 2008, 1:29 am


JustOneAmerican said:


You mistake my comments for defensiveness. It’s more like incredulousness.

Yes, the powerful decide. What is new here? That is almost always the case in all human endeavors great or small. It sucks, but that’s humanity for you.

Finally, declaring the UN and IAEA are more responsible for the “misery of Iraq” does not make it true.

November 21st, 2008, 1:30 am


JustOneAmerican said:

Does Syria needs Democracy to improve the lives of the Syrian people which should the goal of any government.?

Interesting question. I think over the long run, Democracy is more likely to improve the lives of Syrians than any other form of government but that other forms can still improve the lives of Syrians.

November 21st, 2008, 1:38 am


Alia said:


The institutions of democracy are what insures that the majority continues to live a decent life and to prosper, regardless of who is in the white house. Still poverty and increasing social ills have been related to the massive cuts in the social support networks for the less fortunate even in the U.S.

But how can you have a just legal system if you do not have democracy and a system of checks and balances.? What would it take to corrupt that system ?

November 21st, 2008, 1:42 am


jad said:

Dear Norman,
(I’ll be very quick in my response)

You have two excellent definition of Democracy by OTW and Shai;

“At its heart, democracy is not the laws themselves, it is the process by which laws are made and enforced.”
“I believe Democracy is also, beyond the technical definition, a state-of-mind and a language.”

That means Democracy is the way to answer your needs if you truly understand it, it is for a better, equal and fair society, where people are all treated equally and have the same rights and duty as their fellow citizens. Democracy is not a physical form it is a whole movement that develop with time.

YES Syria needs Democracy very bad because when you have free society, creativity flourish, that translate into more opportunity that eventually leads to stability and fortune.
When you know that you are a partner in any decision your government takes you know very well that it is in your own best interest and not against you.
Democracy is important and we must have but it is not the only element you need to progress and improve people life especially when you have big portion of your population don’t know the meaning of communication and law as the only way. So it should be supported by education and justice.

November 21st, 2008, 1:55 am


norman said:

Alia, Jad

some time i look at Democracy like looking at a religion , It is good to have one but you do not need it to be moral and righteous.

Sometime i look at it as a union in a company , management should not need a union to take care of the needs of their workers , they should do that because it is their obligation .

November 21st, 2008, 2:00 am


norman said:


China is flourishing with increased standard of living and economic freedom without politecal reform, The Chinese are better off than the Democratic Indians.

For Democracy to take hold i think the country needs middle class therefore economic freedom should probably come first.

November 21st, 2008, 2:11 am


Alia said:


May be you do not need democracy to be righteous, but you sure need it to ensure that everybody is righteous. Power corrupts, we need to limit power and not concentrate it in a small number of individuals.

China is flourishing economically but you still cannot write a novel that praises Mongolian enviornmental values, you end up in jail. What is the point of eating and drinking and having new cars if you cannot express yourself.

Indians are very proud of their democracy despite their poverty. I have known quite a few poor simple indians, never heard them wish they were Chinese but all knew that their country was the largest democracy and that counted for something.

I guess it does depend on what your priorities are..

November 21st, 2008, 2:36 am


jad said:

Dear Norman,

With due respect, I don’t agree with you on the two points you mentioned;

1-Democracy can’t be compared to religion one is easily changeable according to the majority benefits the later is untouchable

2-Comparing China to India can be translated into KSA(china) and Egypt(India) which one do you think is better?

November 21st, 2008, 3:17 am


norman said:


KSA is not China , people in China have a chance to innovate , People in KSA are oppressed,

Egypt is not India for many reasons,

I would like Syria with economic freedom and laws that apply to everybody , Syria is going in that direction , Syrians should seek appeals and see what happened , courts sometimes rise to the occasion when they are looked up to.

the people who are in prison should try and use the court system.

November 21st, 2008, 3:48 am


Sami D said:

JustOneAmerican wrote:

Saddam, not the sanctions, were the source of inhumanity. Saddam purposely starved and denied medicine to certain parts of his population is order to garner international sympathy (it’s still working I guess!), strengthen his regime and punish his enemies. In addition, Saddam got billions illegally selling oil outside the oil for food program. Where did that money get spent? Weapons mostly, not on saving Iraqi children, that’s for sure. Saddam decides to let his people starve and buy palaces and weapons. Who’s to blame? Not Saddam – the west and their inhumane sanctions! You seriously believe that? Alia, you talk about political manipulation of the facts. That’s an excellent point and it saddens me that many still seem to buy into the fantasy that the sanctions were responsible for starving children in Iraq. It saddens me that so many still believe that the UN/UNSCOM/IAEA are to blame for the Iraq war when it was Saddam failing to live up to obligations he incurred from a war he started and then lost.

This is a misrepresentation, however unintentional. Iraq’s WMD and the search for them is the excuse. The goal is to control Iraq, with its vast oil supplies, or destroy it if it resisted control and install a client. Saddam would not dare use his WMD –-some of which supplied by uncle Sam-— because he knows what the response would be. The US and Israel know that. The suffocating sanctions were the public punishment of Iraq, for all to learn and see what the price of disobedience to the emperor looks like. Bush Sr. was clear: Dictators must understand that “what we say goes” (he meant, of course, only those dictators not responsive to our demands, not for example the head and hand choppers of Saudi Arabia).

As for US record on Sanctions: First, during the 1991 “war” (more like a massacre or a turkey shoot) the US deliberately bombed the water treatment and electric generation plants (not just relays stations, but the source), with fore-knowledge of the civilian human costs that would result. Saddam, as evil as he was, didn’t make the US attack the civilian infrastructure of Iraq. US planned and did that. Matter of fact, Saddam, re-built the electric plants & bridges much more efficiently than the US, with its looting mercenaries on the loose, did post-2003. What the US did in 1991, including bombardment of bridges, factories, the use of depleted uranium, cluster and daisy cutter bombs, for example against the fleeing soldiers and civilians from Kuwait on the highway of death, constitutes war crimes and crimes against humanity.

It was clear (to the US too) that such barbaric destruction and attack on millions of innocent civilians, especially when followed by one of the most strict sanction regime in history, would produce, for example just by the end of 1991, according to mainstream US press, about 70,000 dead children. With contaminated water supplies, sewers flowing in the streets and rivers, and the US blocking even that basic cleanser of water –chlorine– from reaching Iraq (under the “dual use” pretext), let alone refrigeration tools, ensured that what transpired over the next few years in Iraq would be something on the scale of genocide. And “genocide” was the word used by the UN head of the program (Dennis Halliday) in reference to the US sanctions before he resigned his post after 3 decades of UN service. His successor (Von Sponeck) also resigned expressing similar disgust at the sanctions.

Over 1.5 million dead, and “the price was worth it” Albright said. (Rice would have preferred “birth pangs of a new Middle East”.) This is how the US –the beacon of democracy and freedom– operates when its subjects display disobedience, as the people of Indochina found out before them, for all to see and learn. Sanctions only ensured that Iraq would be devastated, would be reduced from one of the most advanced Arab countries, with social rights, from free education to healthcare (under Saddam, note!), to sub-Saharan Africa, under US sanctions and Saddam. At best, Saddam was only partly to blame, for diverting some of the funds to his personal use and for not resigning. But did the US really expect an honorable behavior and committing suicide on his part, or did it just plan to exploit his reputation and expected behavior to blame him for everything IT did?

It is also noteworthy that most of his crimes, for which he was notorious, like gassing “his own people” or the attack on Shia/Kurds/Iran, were committed while he was a US ally, supported, armed, protected from international law by the US. Even his March 1991 attack on the Shia uprising was aided by the US, when the latter realized that the coup against Saddam was not by military commanders – the desired outcome from US perspective. US can’t let the Iraqis run their country; you gotta have a military thug like Saddam, but one who’s obedient to us: “our SOB” in US intelligence parlance, or “Washington would have the best of all worlds: an iron-fisted Iraqi junta without Saddam Hussein” in the words of Thomas Friedman.

As for compliance with weapons inspection, repeated US leaders (eg, Albright) made it clear that even if Saddam complied sanctions would not be removed, until Saddam was out of power! The meaning was clear: WMD is the excuse. More clearly, in the words of Ritter: “The U.S. has perverted the U.N. weapons process by using it as a tool to justify military actions, falsely so. … The U.S. was using the inspection process as a trigger for war.” The message to Saddam was clear, don’t cooperate and hence give us excuse to suffocate Iraq more, or remove/kill yourself/get removed from power by the starving Iraqi population, to be replaced by a US client. Why would he comply under those conditions?

The real WMD in Iraq were the US sanctions followed by the 2003 aggression, executed cold-bloodedly without regard to civilian life, mainly the children, elderly and most vulnerable. The civilian toll of both must be around 2.5-3 million Iraqis, not to mention double that of refugees, and the devastation of Iraq.

Quote from Joy Gordon, Harper’s, Nov 2002 issue: “In searching for evidence of the potential danger posed by Iraq, the Bush Administration need have looked no further than the well-kept record of U.S. manipulation of the sanctions program since 1991. If any international act in the last decade is sure to generate enduring bitterness toward the United States, it is the epidemic suffering needlessly visited on Iraqis via U.S. fiat inside the United Nations Security Council. Within that body, the United States has consistently thwarted Iraq from satisfying its most basic humanitarian needs, using sanctions as nothing less than a deadly weapon, and, despite recent reforms, continuing to do so. Invoking security concerns—including those not corroborated by U.N. weapons inspectors—U.S. policymakers have effectively turned a program of international governance into a legitimized act of mass slaughter.”

November 21st, 2008, 5:26 am


jad said:

(Yes, the powerful decide. What is new here)
I already state that and I know that, it’s you who is trying too hard to legitmat the unjust and devistation decisions taken by the ‘powefull’

(Finally, declaring the UN and IAEA are more responsible for the “misery of Iraq” does not make it true.)
REALLY???? You think that the UN in it’s supporting and forcing a terrible and unhumain sanctions against the iraqis for all this years and being a cowerd witness of the american invasion is not ‘true’ enough for you? It’s more than enough for me to say that they are worst than Saddam (I’m not defending Saddam at all, he deserve what happened to him but he isn’t worth all the innocent people died to get his head) and they are in many ways responsible of the 2 millions civilian iraqis died and 4.4 millions becomes refuge..
you might beleive this more than my ‘fals decleration’

November 21st, 2008, 6:31 am


jad said:

(Yes, the powerful decide. What is new here)
I already state that and I know that, it’s you who is trying too hard to legitmat the unjust and devistation decisions taken by the ‘powefull’

(Finally, declaring the UN and IAEA are more responsible for the “misery of Iraq” does not make it true.)
REALLY???? You think that the UN in it’s supporting and forcing a terrible and unhumain sanctions against the iraqis for all this years and being a cowerd witness of the american invasion is not ‘true’ enough for you? It’s more than enough for me to say that they are worst than Saddam (I’m not defending Saddam at all, he deserve what happened to him but he isn’t worth all the innocent people died to get his head)
The UN and it’s organization are in many ways responsible of the 2 millions civilian iraqis died and 4.4 millions becomes might beleive this numbers more than my ‘fals decleration’

November 21st, 2008, 6:45 am


offended said:

Dear Alia and OTW, thanks for the feedback. I am reading your posts with great interest. And I must admit that you both are more erudite on the subject than I’d imagined : ) I wonder what’s your educational background? Political science? Law? Journalism?

So far I can only raise questions. I couldn’t find fault in your excellent answers. But one thing I feel I should reiterate is that we should inspect Syria through the binoculars of reality. How do you feed these idealistic plans and values to people on grass root level? How do you reach out to those despondent and cynical people? You’ve got to understand that those people are as suspicious of you as they are of any typical political agenda. Not because they lack the knowledge, but probably because they’ve lost interest….for one reason or the other, they don’t buy a sales pitch very easily. They simply go by the saying “alli beta3rfo a7san min alli betet3araf 3aleeh”….

I’d like to see the spirit of those people revived and awakened. And the last thing Syria need is for those people to resort to some religious figures for guidance….(I think I said this before so I’ll stop repeating myself…)

November 21st, 2008, 10:08 am


trustquest said:

Dear bedfellow, norman, jad, otw, offended and others;
It is great to see you coming to the same conclusions as the opposition in Syria (I mean the good opposition who lives inside the country and struggling for the freedom of “TALKING”, and you until now did not make the connection between these people call for freedom of “TALKING” and the thing you are agreeing finally on this thread).

It seems to me that all happened when you guys secluded together and sat together and discussed the terrible state of the country without the interference of opposition supporters. It seems all this discussions before were not needed, you have been reacting most of the time in fear for change and the mistrust of others and finding excuses related to outside factors. I’m not playing sarcastic or joking I’m sincere and was enjoying the debate.

I’m so glad to hear the comment from JAD-71- acknowledges the dire need of the change. I would add to his comment on the list of democratic value one more item: the value of changing hands, people and responsibilities in the democratic system or lets called the more democratic system since Syria’s constitution is built on the democratic values.
I appreciate OTW hard work to prove that the Judicial System in US is superior and I stress on Norman call for the adaption of this system, even I do think this is not doable because first you have to have, enforce and apply the system you currently have (there is no System now, there is chaos), so you would be able from the current one to move to the new one.

I love it when people bring China example, but please revise that, because China is not India and orange and apples does not mix. Syria first is neither and it is too late to be China but not too late to walk in India direction as India did that in the last 10 years. And if this does not make sense, let say, bring anything please, but MAKE CHANGE – REAL CHANGE, the change which you will see its results in the first year, especially the social change. Btw Norman, I do not see Syria is going in any direction, sorry! You do not have to silence intellectuals from TALKING to go in any direction!
Syrians qualities and capabilities do not match the any in the Middle East; the smart leader would be the one who can build on this quality as Khalid Alazem did in the fifties.

Offended, your question is very important, to feed these changes and values to the public, you have to let the public TALK, make mistakes and keep trying. Thank you for asking.

I would like to add one more thing, the value of respect and recognize the diversity. One more thing the value of respecting fellow citizens with all differences, Shai, Akbar and AIG are great examples, they still respect and love each other with all their difference. Another thing, it should be in our alienated right to attack, dismiss, disgrace our leaders when we disagree with them, we put them there to serve us, if they do not like it, let them quit, we should stop the YES man mentality, this the way to improve.

All, please excuse me for being too judgmental, unrefined and not sophisticated in my comment.

November 21st, 2008, 3:08 pm


JustOneAmerican said:

Ok, this will be my last comment on the subject. I don’t expect to change anyone’s mind on this topic judging from the responses so far, so after this I won’t bother to try anymore. Like the belief among many around the world that 9/11 was perpetrated by a zionist/jewish conspiracy, the idea that Saddam bears little if any responsibility for deaths while Iraq was under sanctions seems to be in the realm of belief that is unassailable by any fact or argument.

On the question of the sanctions, you really need to go back and read what was actually happening at the time. The vast majority of victims of the sanctions (and refugees) were, unsurprisingly, Shia and to a lesser extent, Kurd. Now why was that? It was because, beginning in 1992, Saddam was carrying out military campaigns against both groups. These military campaigns included economic warfare. Not only were food and medicine shipments ceased to the north and south of Iraq, but Saddam also prevented humanitarian workers from providing aid in those areas. Both actions by Saddam were violations of agreements made by Saddam to say nothing of international law. Of course, when innocents were dying in the streets, Saddam was only too happy to give scripted and guided tours to the useful idiots in the press, but not allow in aid workers to help the sick and dying. It was a hugely successful propaganda campaign by Saddam, one that is still working quite well despite Saddam’s demise.

The situation in the north became so bad the the US military and others finally intervened to prevent what would have been a a genocide against the Kurds. After denying the Kurds food and medicine, what was left of the Iraqi military drove them into the mountains to freeze and starve to death. Had there not been an intervention, those here who believe the sanctions were the primary cause of all those deaths would likely be blaming the Kurd genocide on evil western sanctions as well.

In hindsight, it’s too bad the US did not establish a similar safe-haven in the south of Iraq for the Shia for Saddam’s operations there was similar – forced migrations, denial of food and medicine, military operations against civilians, and even the destruction of local agriculture (irrigation mainly).

So let’s recap:

Who prevented food and medicine shipments to many parts of the country – the parts that had the worst humanitarian situation? Saddam

Who prevented international aid organizations from helping those people? Saddam

Who spent tens of billions rearming, building palaces etc. instead of humanitarian infrastructure (often illegally)? Saddam

Who refused to participate in the 1991 OFF program? Saddam.

Despite the clear evidence gathered over the last 15 years that Saddam’s deliberate policy choices are the primary cause of the humanitarian disaster, there are still those who point the finger elsewhere and make statements like, “At best, Saddam was only partly to blame, for diverting some of the funds to his personal use and for not resigning.” Such a statement implies there is little or nothing Saddam could have done differently to change the outcome – an implication which is clearly false. It also seems ignorant that “some of the funds” were really tens of billions of dollars and represented a significant portion of Iraqi GDP. Yes, the only thing we can blame poor Saddam for is diverting a bit of money – everything else was out of his control. That is delusion.

What I will say is that the sanctions were stupid and counterproductive. The US and UN should have known what Saddam would do under sanctions. They should have realized he didn’t care about the Iraqi people and that he was perfectly willing to kill them directly or through conscious neglect to gain a propaganda victory and punish his enemies. They should have realized that most sanctions don’t work against totalitarian states because the regime can and will control who gets the resources. The sanctions were certainly a mistake – or at least the form in which they were implemented – but what’s amazing to me is that there are still those who, despite the historical record, seriously believe that Saddam didn’t do all the things listed above which killed so many innocent people.

November 21st, 2008, 3:18 pm


Friend in America said:

Simo –
Sorry to be late in replying to #6. Your arguments are well taken – I understand your reasons. But, my friend, I am not persuaded by reasoning that belongs to the cold war period.
I am very concerned about the reasoning ‘we must have nukes because they have nukes’ because it will result in every country in the mid east having nukes. That would be uncontrollable proliferation in a very volitile area of the world. What would then be accomplished? No more security than is enjoyed now; more likely less, because of the potential of devastation and aspirations of some political leaders.
A treaty declaring the mid east a nuclear free zone is a far safer alternative not only for all of us living today but also for our children and our children’s children and their children. Given a proper situation I think Israel would be obliged to be a signatory but that will not happen until the proliferation problem in Iran is resolved. Until then the countries between Iran and Israel can declare their part of the world to be a nuclear free zone.
I have been advocating that on this site for over a year. It is in the best interests of all mid eastern countries. That includes Syria. There is no safe next best alternative.
It is naieve military reasoning to believe in today’s hi tech world the military of any country can transport a nucular bomb to a launching site, install it in a warhead, attach the warhead to a missle, and launch the missle without detection or being smashed. There were 250 thefts of fissile material in 2007, almost all from supplies in Russia. Who has them?
There is a balance of power in the mid east at present (some might call it a stable imbalance of power). Nuclear proliferation opens the door to events beyond any single country’s control. All are put at risk.

November 21st, 2008, 3:35 pm


jad said:

(Ok, this will be my last comment on the subject.) Good, me too

In all the comments you got from us, not even one person said that they don’t blame saddam, while in yours, you failed miserably to condemn or even accept any responsibility of the UN or the American administrations for destroying the lives of millions of Iraqis, you just said ‘they should know’ don’t you think that 11 years of sanctions is long enough for them to ‘know’??? No need for answer.

Finally, please don’t mix 9/11 with any other unrelated subject, we all here educated enough and we appreciate if you stick to one subject without transform it to mishmash.

November 21st, 2008, 3:52 pm


Alia said:


[A treaty declaring the mid east a nuclear free zone is a far safer alternative not only for all of us]

Why is this coming up now, and not for the past 50 years as Israel has been the first country in the ME to develop a nuclear program ? Why has Israel’s “nuclear opacity” been allowed to continue despite very specific U.S intelligence on the matter? Why is Israel not a rogue state as per U.S. definition? The worthless argument that in a democracy, the use of nuclear arms is more responsible, is just that, worthless.

[ Given a proper situation I think Israel would be obliged to be a signatory but that will not happen until the proliferation problem in Iran is resolved. ]

Israel has never felt “obliged” to do anything even when the whole world has condamned its actions and stands. When the Israelis could not get the Americans to support the degree of nuclear armement they desired under Eisenhower, they turned to France and obtained what they needed.

I am tired of the hypocritical and patronizing attitudeS and comments of the Israel Lobby being spewed all around without examination.

November 21st, 2008, 3:56 pm


Alia said:


The last paragraph of your comment was the only thing that was needed- you could have started with it – the rest was really not helpful and largely inapplicable-

November 21st, 2008, 4:00 pm


Alia said:

Dear Offended,

Our people are like any other people, you do something constructive for them, they respond to it-
Their bosses that have been nurtured and manipulated by the regime and the Mukhabarat are going to have to be controlled. They and the religious leaders will have to follow legal rules stated in a democracy where inciting hatred and encouraging violence are punishable by law.
We have had a lot of people work to ruin the country’s grassroots over an extended period of time, so yes a lot of work has to be done to reverse the trend.

Norman talks of economic opportunities- well, it would help to spread them a bit all over the country and over all sects and religions, and to show that there is no favoritism, no sectarianism coming from the centre, from the top…

That is the nature of the work.

November 21st, 2008, 4:12 pm


jad said:

Dear Offended,
I have the same impression of Alia and OTW, I’m saving the important points of there exchange in one file of my own to be a good base for any further discussion.
My only concern is that if we don’t have all those comments and ideas saved they are going to be lost between the meaningless comments you get in between, I wonder if Alex can filter them out and save them on his own site Creative Syria?

Dear Alia,
I fully agree that the best investment into the Syrian future should be by educating and spreading the gift of knowledge, enlightenment and responsibility into our public base with zero tolerance of hate, religion segregations and manipulation of power in the way we still see in Syria. I also know that it will take generations to do that…but we MUST start doing that YESTERDAY.

November 21st, 2008, 6:34 pm


norman said:


Alia said (( Norman talks of economic opportunities- well, it would help to spread them a bit all over the country and over all sects and religions, and to show that there is no favoritism, no sectarianism coming from the centre, from the top…

That is the nature of the work.))

Alia ,

You can spread economic opportunity by taxation and redistribution , so a flat tax of 15% with estimated tax payment every three months certified by certified accountants will make difficult for people to avoid taxes as the accountant would not want to lose their license to practice , the treasury employee that now collect bribes instead of taxes will need to have something else to do , the Tax that is collected can be spent by the government on infrastructure , education and health care ,

To give opportunity for Syrian to achieve , the government should only make it easy to start businesses , lift restrictions on prices and get out of the way and be happy with being partner for 15% of the profit.The poor can be helped by subsidies directed toward the poor only , not everybody.

I do not think has years to do that , they should start soon , and no matter how important free speech , the right to produce and eat and take care of your family is more important , at least to most Syrians as i see it,

And that is my take.

November 21st, 2008, 10:04 pm


Alia said:


Your position has merits for the short run. History has taught us that people, as soon as they have food and drink, they look for something more.

The majority of the people of the Soviet Union and the East bloc countries had food, free education and health benefits, and did not worry about being on the street in their old age- yet they resisted their communist-socialist regimes and dreamed of and invited change.

November 21st, 2008, 10:59 pm


Alia said:


You are too nice- It is good to exchange views. Perhaps the fact that our country has suffered so much and continues to suffer brings us closer to one another. We are like the children of a dysfunctional family unit, we ran away but we never forget : )

November 21st, 2008, 11:04 pm


norman said:


They were treated as subjects , had no opportunity to get rich take care of others including their families , they had no chance of being all what they can be , and that is why they seeked change , about halve the people in the US do not even bother to vote and most the people who vote do not think that their vote make a big difference, when people are satisfied economically they will be mature to vote for the better candidates and better ideas instead of voting out of revenge or hate,I am not saying that Syria should have a democracy like in the US , what i am saying is that hungry people create a revolution while satisfied people build a future and a country .

And that is my take.

November 21st, 2008, 11:13 pm


jad said:

Dear Norman,
I don’t want to sound like I’m arguing with you about what you wrote, I’m not, what you wrote is your opinion and I respect that, however, your comparisons are unfair:

East bloc countries citizens where not treated as objects as you said, otherwise they wouldn’t get to an advanced industrial level; they had people who are creative enough to produce and develop their industries.
You wrote; they (had no opportunity to get rich take care of others including their families, they had no chance of being all what they can be, and that is why they seeked change)
Don’t you think we can easily reflect the same thing on Syrians?

Being poor is not the only issue here, what is important in my opinion is how much you know and what is your contribution to improve your family and build your country, that what we are missing in Syria.
It’s true that we don’t have homeless problem in the street of our cities but at the same time we have an army of underage working children that should be in schools learning instead of begging or selling chewing gum.
I agree with you that they need to eat before thinking of democracy but are we doing anything in regard of feeding them at the present?
Do you know how many families are living below poverty line in Syria? To be very honest our society sucks in the way we look and treat poor people.
Does our government now doing anything for those people? My answer is NO, most of them lives on charity and without those organization and individual, the situation will be worse than Bombay and you will need mother Teresa to look after them.
With or without democracy people are going to eat so why don’t they eat with appetite?

Everything is achievable you need the will, the vision and group of people who are committed to do it and not just asking for power.

November 22nd, 2008, 12:52 am


norman said:

First , Thank you for your respose ,
I understand your frustration , but these problem has been in Syria for a long time , I am older than you are and i was like you thinking that the Government should do everything only to find out that the government can only delay the progress of people, for the Syrian government to do what the American government can do with Medicare , Social security , Nursing home and Medicaid , Syria needs revenue which include taxes , property tax , income tax , Syria can not provide free education , free public health care and safety in the streets without revenue , making charitable contribution tax deductible will encourage donation that will help fill the gap and make people participate in building their country and I am not talking about food kitchen and Church and Mosque building but donations to libraries, community Hospitals free clinics for the poor and the disadvantages , vaccination for every child , a Mammogram for every woman above forty yearly and a Colonoscopy for every person above the age of fifty ,these can be provided through charitable foundations,
About the children who are working in young age , they do that to help their parents who are most likely employed and their salary is not enough to provide for the family , that can be corrected by increasing the salary of government employees ,and stop employing people as a way to decrease unemployment with people signing in and out and working in the private sector,
About housing and the lack of available apartments for rent ,or offices for business , Syria can change that by honoring contract laws and canceling price fixing of rent and having taxes on second houses that are not occupied by their owners .even if not finished and making it a requirement to finish buildings so they are not left ( Al Adam ) but finished and ready to rent or sell.

and that is my take.

November 22nd, 2008, 3:28 am


jad said:

Dear Norman
One very important question for you my friend,
What’s the deal with your new signature line?

‘and that is my take.’

It sounds funny, there must be a story behind that new ‘trend’ of yours..smiling..

November 22nd, 2008, 4:53 am


Off the Wall said:

Dear Jad
My vacation was cut short when the Yacht was brought back a shore due to increased Somali-Pirates-Of-the-Caribbean in the region. My security chief is not negotiating with the Indian Navy to see if we can hoist the Indian Flag on the Yacht. ! 

Seriously now, I am truly sorry for not posting for a while. I am extremely busy with a major technical report that must be delivered soon. And you know how that goes. Add to that priority # 1, which is family. I hope that I am forgiven. As I mentioned a few days a go, a will be very busy for a while (may be a couple of weeks). But I try my best to read the new posts and I see some very intriguing comments.

My main problem is that I can not write off-the-cuff. It takes me a long time to write any post. The seriousness of what we are discussing here on SC makes fast, pre-packaged responses real hard, especially as all posters including yourself keep generating interesting Ideas and solid points of discussions.

November 22nd, 2008, 5:21 pm


Alia said:

Norman, #92

[They were treated as subjects , had no opportunity to get rich take care of others including their families , they had no chance of being all what they can be , and that is why they seeked change]

This is the American version of the history of the Eastern Bloc countries. It is oversimplified, tilted to show that the U.S. is the much better model, and based more or less on the idea that “being all you can be” means : materially.
While the truth of it is not so simple. Attempts at breaking away from the USSR sphere of dominance started already in the 50′ when the economic failures of the communist/socialists regimes were not clear-“subjecthood” was protested because of its restriction on choice and ideology. This is all documented in the literature of those countries, not in the U.S. version.

[about halve the people in the US do not even bother to vote and most the people who vote do not think that their vote make a big difference,]

The most common reasons for not voting in the U.S. are poverty, disenfranchisement, helplessness, political ignorance- Not economic satisfaction- that is why you have all the activists rushing to register voters in poor neighborhoods-
Even in the more economically-advantaged classes, political ignorance and lack of sophistication in the rights and the duties of citizenship are the results of an increasingly dominant culture of political illiteracy, and media manipulation-remember that in the midst of the Iraq war and the Guantanmo prisoners in the U.S., post Abu Ghraib, citizens were more interested in tuning in to the events of the death of Ann Nicole Smith than in reflecting about their country’s disasters.

There is a major difference between the definition of human beings, their rights and duties, in the thought of the framers of the U.S. Constitution and those of Reagan, Clinton and Bush 1 and 2-speaking to the “American People”- we, of all people, who were born and bred in the darkness of the hypocrisy of political language should be very sensitive to what we are listening to and what we are saying.

November 23rd, 2008, 4:03 pm


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