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message 1: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 8008 comments During the Cold War ideology was made important. Different rebels, gangs, revolutionists, lofty or lowly insurgents or regimes in many places in the world claiming adherence to either democratic or communistic worldview could've enjoyed lavish funding, arms supply and much more from the US or USSR respectively. A showdown between the competing groups was frequent. Nicaragua, Angola, just to name a few. Not sure for locals in their struggle for power the ideology was really important, maybe it was more a way to attract a mighty patron.
In modern times a democratization is still encouraged whether verbally or maybe even through organizing coups. However this form of societal organization should probably rest upon the entire platform of civil liberties and rights, tradition, culture, anti-usurpation mechanisms and might simply contravene local culture and beliefs.
I can't understand why monarchs should be revered in some places in the West, but that's a tradition and it's not my biz to impose my views on those who cherish it.
To me insistence on ideology and a democracy as societal organization reminds a forced religious conversion of a sort. I believe democracy is good, but should we insist it be enforced on other cultures? What do you think?


message 2: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 1908 comments By definition, a democracy is a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.

This seems like a good system to me, but to export or impose this ideology seems, by definition, to be impossible and contrary to its ideals of free choice. The population of a country must be free to choose its own government.

I guess my question is, when rulers like Assad attack their own people, what should other countries do to intervene, if anything? If we intervene, is that considered exporting our ideology?


message 3: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 8008 comments Scout wrote: "I guess my question is, when rulers like Assad attack their own people, what should other countries do to intervene, if anything? If we intervene, is that considered exporting our ideology? ..."

Saving people from slaughter is mandatory, in my opinion.
In less grave cases - not necessarily. For example, some backpackers do long time in Thailand prisons for possession of drugs - something considered almost innocent in the West. In some countries I hear a punishment for theft or corruption may be amputation of hand, something viewed as cruel. Not sure, in either case the intervention is mandatory though.
But even with slaughter and genocide in Africa and other places, the world often turns a blind eye..


message 4: by Graeme (last edited Jul 02, 2017 05:03AM) (new)

Graeme Rodaughan | 3395 comments According to Amnesty International, everyone kills civilians.

https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/...

The bottom line with any intervention; is the West causing more harm than it prevents - and how would we know - we can't check the alternative timelines to see what would happen if we didn't intervene.

I fear that every intervention by the West is based on a 'faith' that we are doing the right thing, not a 'knowing' we are doing the right thing.

Was the 2nd Iraq war justified? Iraq is a basket case, 100,000s of dead. ISIS/ISIL, dead and broken servicemen and servicewomen, the list goes on.

Our interventions are selective. Bosnia and Rwanda were a classic pair of cases where horrible things were allowed to occur, and the cynic in me wonders if the problem was there was no oil in these countries, or they were not in the path of someone's strategic pipeline.

I shake my head and fear we in the west are just meddlers in other people's lives and not for good reasons.


message 5: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 4364 comments Is Assad attacking his own people? He is attacking those who want to overthrow and kill him, but what exactly are his options? Give in to those nice peaceful Wahhabis who merely want to kill those who do not accept their extreme form of Islam? The problem is, governments in the West seem to think they know better, and look at their track record? Iraq is a disaster. Their messing around in Iran just to get hands on oil (remember Mossadeq)? Libya is now a mess of about a hundred mutually warring tribes. Now in Syria, Trump is excelling by being on both sides - supplying ISIS and also technically at war with ISIS, but also bombing non-Wahhabis who are trying to fight ISIS.

As an aside, how many people die of gun deaths in the US every year? Being shot by someone seems to me to be a denial of civil rights, so why does the US think it is so strong there?


message 6: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 1908 comments I'm obviously missing something regarding Assad.

I must take issue with you when you say, "Being shot by someone seems to me to be a denial of civil rights." If an armed person is shot during the commission of a violent crime, he has no civil rights. Most criminals in this country have access to guns; therefore, in my opinion, law-abiding citizens are smart to own and use guns for their self-defense.


message 7: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 4364 comments Scout, I am more thinking of invading armies, etc, and not self defence. I agree that a criminal should not have such rights.


message 8: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 1908 comments Thanks for your reply. Can you tell me more about Assad and why he's doing what he's doing to his people?


message 9: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 1908 comments Thanks for your reply. Can you tell me more about Assad? I'm not understanding why he's killing his own people.


message 10: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 4364 comments Oh dear - how to explain Syria in how many words???

This is oversimplified, but the area is wracked with religious fervour, basically of the kind, "I am right, you are wrong, and the wrong need to be punished/killed." When Syria was formed at the collapse of the Ottoman empire, some idiotic Westerners drew maps that divided the area into countries with nice straight line borders, at least some of the time. No thought to composition. Many had "benevolent" (i.e. friendly to the Europeans) kings/rulers, but that went, especially around WW II. There were various political upheavals, and the only ones who lasted were the strong men - Saddam in Iraq, and Assad senior in Syria, and they survived by being rather brutal on religious discontent. They had the wisdom to have the governments secular. Assad senior died, and Bashar was installed.

All went well until the so-called Arab spring, when there were serious demonstrations etc in Syria, wanting "democracy" - or that was the excuse. We have no idea how serious that was, but Assad's troops got vicious. Before long, he had a rebellion, in which is main opposition were Kurds, who want a Kurdistan, and Sunnis, some of whom were opportunist military men, and many were Wahhabi, of the al Qaeda type. Saudi Arabia pumped in huge amounts of supplies/money, and Assad, an Alawite, got help from Hezbollah in Lebanon, and now from Iran. Meanwhile, Iraq fell to pieces thanks to US intervention and the Wahhabis formed ISIL, and things got bad.

As for Assad killing his own people, it is a civil war. Civil wars are not nice. The US had one about 160 years ago, and there was an awful lot of bloodshed. Syria is having one now, and America, the Gulf states, Israel, Iran, Turkey and Russia have all got involved one way or another. By the time they are finished, Syria will be rubble. So, for that matter is Mosul, following all the bombing.

The critics will say I have left out a lot. They will be right.


message 11: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan | 3395 comments Imagine if the US was as riven with Civil War as Syria is right now, and China, Russia, Britain and the EU were all backing one side or another, and refugees were heading north and south and across the oceans...

One could write a fine dystopia about such an event and hold up a very big mirror. I wonder what people would see in it.


message 12: by J.N. (last edited Jul 04, 2017 08:28AM) (new)

J.N. Bedout (jndebedout) | 96 comments Mirror, mirror
on the wall,
whose the grandest
of them all?

Is it me,
or is it them?
It must be me,
for they are dead.


message 13: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 8008 comments Ian wrote: "Their messing around in Iran just to get hands on oil..."

I don't think so, as 'death to America' is almost an official policy there, they have an advanced nuclear and rocket program with clear military applications and Saudis and other US close allies in the region feel threatened and imperiled by Iran..


message 14: by Nik (last edited Jul 04, 2017 11:29AM) (new)

Nik Krasno | 8008 comments Ian wrote: "Oh dear - how to explain Syria in how many words???

This is oversimplified, but the area is wracked with religious fervour, basically of the kind, "I am right, you are wrong, and the wrong need to..."


Pretty accurate and concise summary, I would say


message 15: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 8008 comments Graeme wrote: "Imagine if the US was as riven with Civil War as Syria is right now, and China, Russia, Britain and the EU were all backing one side or another, and refugees were heading north and south and across..."

With an acute division over Trump/anti-Trump it's not that hard to imagine. Hope it'll never happen though...


message 16: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 4364 comments Nik, my comments about Iran related to the Mossadeq era, and there was no doubt at all that the first thing that happened when the king was restored, Iran's oil went to western companies as gratitude. Since then, of course, when Khomeini took over, the West has had other things to worry about besides oil as Iran had a legitimate hatred of the West, and since the Saudis are the site of extreme Sunni Islam, the Shi'ite Iran is strongly against it.


message 17: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 8008 comments Ian wrote: "a legitimate hatred of the West.."

Not sure, I'm comfortable with the term. And what the West is supposed to do with this 'legitimate hatred'? Something like: 'alright, we can afford Iran being able to nuke us, it's legitimate'?
At the same time the West isn't allowed to hate anyone, of course. Hating wouldn't be 'Western', 'enlightened'


message 18: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 4364 comments Nik, I meant "legitimate" in the sense they had in their eyes a valid reason for it. Suppose someone came along and somehow arranged to sell your house and tossed you out in the streets - would you smile and move on?

As to what the West is supposed to do now is a more difficult question. My comment was about the cause, and that cannot be undone, and I agree we don't want Iran nuking anyone. Actually, I don't want anyone nuking anyone else. How to stop that happening is more difficult. Ideally I would like to see the mid east sit down and start getting on with each other. It can happen - South America seems to stay out of wars (leaving aside the Argentinian aberration with the Falklands). How to bring it about - I have no idea, but looking at Syria, I doubt that is the right way.


message 19: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 8008 comments Ian wrote: "Nik, I meant "legitimate" in the sense they had in their eyes a valid reason for it. Suppose someone came along and somehow arranged to sell your house and tossed you out in the streets - would you smile and move on?..."

No, but things change. I'm not sure we need to foster enmity towards descendants of those who weren't nice to our grandfathers. Take Germany, for example. Not that much earlier than Mossadeq it was ruled by Hitler and done unbelievable atrocities and now (perhaps as an aftermath of that disastrous period) it's one of the most racially and religiously tolerant countries, championing refugees agenda and other issues within Europe. Although my grandfather fought in WW2, and there are other things, I think we should remember but move on, as it's now different people, different Germany.
Re Mossadeq specifically - as I understand the background was nationalization of oil company. Don't know who was right or wrong there. Again don't know whether it's a sound analogy, but imagine if now Cuba canceled unilaterally Guantanamo lease deal, the US might not be particularly happy..
As to how to attain ever peaceful coexistence don't think there is a magic formula. More so, as we are dealing with drastically different mentality and approach here. A proactive search of peace and amicable solutions is mandatory nonetheless. There are places where human life has zero value and there are those who put it as ultimate value. However in terms of information era and globalization I hope the differences will even out at some stage and a common denominator should become easier to find..


message 20: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 1908 comments Thanks, Ian, for attempting to explain Syria. We did have a terrible, bloody civil war in this country, fought by individuals on both sides, with slavery as the issue. I'm still not understanding what the issue is in the Syrian civil war. There must be two sides, but what is each side fighting for?


message 21: by J.N. (new)

J.N. Bedout (jndebedout) | 96 comments "[They are] behaving like boys with toys."
-- Natalya Simonova, GoldenEye


message 22: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 4364 comments Scout wrote: "Thanks, Ian, for attempting to explain Syria. We did have a terrible, bloody civil war in this country, fought by individuals on both sides, with slavery as the issue. I'm still not understanding w..."

The fundamental reason is religion; the Shia were the ruling minority, and they had a secular government. The fundamental Sunnis, especially the Wahabbis, want strict Islamic rule, and as an aside, they kill more Moslems than anyone else. Of course now there are additional features, thus the Kurds want to break off a piece for Kurdistan, and the Turks do not want this in the slightest because they have Kurdish terrorists wanting a Kurdistan. It has now degenerated into chaos. The US, for what it is worth, have somehow been supporting most opposing sides, and the only one they seem to want to put down is Assad, the only side wanting a secular government.


message 23: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 1908 comments So the conflict is between those who want a secular government and those who want Islamic rule. I'm not sure what secular means in this context. Why would a secular government be the best choice?


message 24: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan | 3395 comments @Scout.

Is it possible that there are literally no good options whatsoever that are anywhere within reach.

I think that situations can reach such a nadir that even the best option is a complicit evil.


message 25: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 4364 comments A secular government is one in which religion has no part in governance. That means the Sunnis and the Shias can worship how they wish in their own mosques, etc, but they cannot impose their thoughts on anyone else.


message 26: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 1908 comments Assad's stance is one of religious freedom for Sunnis and Shias. The civil war is between the Sunnis and Shias and the Muslims?


message 27: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 4364 comments Sunnis and Shias are both Muslims. The sects broke apart basically depending on who was the successor to Muhammed. The Shias believed that Muhammed designated someone to be his successor, and the Sunnis say he did not, and appointed someone else to be caliph. So, over 1300 years later, they are still arguing.


message 28: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 8008 comments I hear it's also alawite ruling minority vs the majority...


message 29: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin Yes, Alawites are a minority in Syria and they do rule (Assad is an Alawite). Alawites are also considered by radical Sunnis as a Shia sect. As for the Druze, everybody is scratching their heads about them, although they claim to be a Sunni sect. Out of my two years spent in Beirut (1982-84), I would say that the Druze are probably the most reasonable and tolerant of the lot.


message 30: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 8008 comments Michel wrote: "Druze are probably the most reasonable and tolerant of the lot. ..."

My impression too. Moreover, as far as I understand being a relatively small albeit a cohesive ethnicity their philosophy is to be in good relations and ally with whatever bigger nation controls the territory where they live..


message 31: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 4364 comments I should also add that however you describe the issue in a small post, it will be a gross approximation. The issues in Syria have become extremely complicated, and I can't see this carnage stopping any time soon.


message 32: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 1908 comments I really wanted to understand why Assad kills his own people, and I think I may have a little more understanding. This is putting it in way too simple terms, I know, but is he doing it to eliminate his religious and political enemies in his own country, thereby ensuring his own dominance? In other words, he doesn't consider the people he kills to be "his people"? Not trying to start a whole new discussion on this, just asking this one question to see if I'm on the right track or not.


message 33: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 4364 comments Only up to a point. He will tolerate the other religion. If you meant to emphasise the "enemies" then you are probably correct. Another way of looking at it is he is fighting for his life, because if he loses, he is a dead man, as will be an awful lot of Alawites.


message 34: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 1908 comments I think I get it now, although I can understand why Western countries see his behavior in another light. I also see that there's no easy solution to this. Thanks for your explanations, Ian.


message 35: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan | 3395 comments Assad would be very aware of Ghaddaffi's fate.


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