Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 7:32 pm

Syria, weapons, Romney and Obama: no easy answers

Filed under: Sad — Lex @ 7:32 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Freelance journalist Benjamin Hall in this guest post for Esquire:

I have just returned from Aleppo, the northwestern Syrian city with some of the most bloody fighting (at least 20 dead today) and some of the most striking examples of just how factious the rebellion has become.

I watched as one FSA brigade fired a 50-caliber machine gun as cover fire for another to retrieve a dead body, only for the same two groups to scream at each other later and refuse to help in fighting the next day.

I watched (and ducked) as rebel groups fought over a new weapons influx and shot over each others’ heads, and I wondered: If they’re shooting arms at each other, how do we decide who to better shoot at Assad’s army?

I watched (and listened) as FSA members told me they prefer to enter into Aleppo illegally, rather than crossing through an FSA gate held by the Islamic Asft Alshmal brigade, saying, “They’re not our guys — they’re bad and they take bribes from refugees.”

I watched (and worried) as Salafi jihadis entered into the conflict here, voicing their opposition to Western values — and their aim to impose Sharia law — and I wondered: “Partners”? What partners?”

Obama seems to be indicating (correctly) that it is impossible to know where U.S.-backed weapons will end up and who will get them — that it could then become irresponsible to arm any factions at all. “We are making sure that that those we help are those who will be friends of ours in the long term,” he said on Monday — in a seemingly rationale (if cautious) approach.

Romney believes (correctly) that weapons are getting to the wrong people already, and that is irresponsible for the West not to try and flow weapons to more moderate groups — that it is not impossible. “We need to have a very effective leadership effort in Syria,” he said at the debate, “making sure that the insurgents there are armed and that the insurgents that become armed are people who will be the responsible parties.”

The president shot back that the U.S. is, in fact, “playing the leadership role,” but therein lies the Catch-22: If the U.S. doesn’t actively arm rebels, fundamentalists might get more weapons anyway; if the U.S. goes far enough, as Romney has suggested, to arm FSA partners with rockets and surface-to-air missiles, Sunni insurgents can’t be far behind in tracking down that kind of heavy artillery in the crossfire. And we all know how that turned out in Iraq.

 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 12:34 am

Quote of the Day, Aftermath of the Second Presidential Debate edition

Commenter Frank Armstrong at Charlie Pierce’s place:  “I think tonight Barack’s name was Inigo Montoya, and Willard did something bad to his father.”

Tuesday, September 13, 2011 8:54 pm

“TONIGHT’S LOSER: Hypothetical sick 30-year-old. TONIGHT’S WINNER: Death. Good night.”

I didn’t watch the GOP presidential debate last night because I had to study. But apparently I missed something interesting.

Do you remember when then-Rep. Alan Grayson said this?

Do you remember how much grief he caught for it?

Well, last night, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, a very good question, one that, in this country, isn’t entirely hypothetical. Suppose some 30-year-old guy with no insurance lapses into a coma. Do we taxpayers let him die?

Several members of the crowd yelled, “Yeah!” and applauded.

Paul took the usual libertarian “And a pony!” tack of assuring us that in real life, no one like that would die, that volunteers and nonprofits would fill the role currently played by government. (Right.) Moreover, he claimed that government health care is the reason why U.S. health care is so expensive (although the facts quite clearly show otherwise).

But those buzzards in the crowd …

Afterward, Ryan Grim contacted Grayson to ask what he thought of what had happened. Grayson responded:

My speech was about the fact I had been listening to the Republicans for months, and they literally had no plan to help all those millions of people who can’t see a doctor when they’re sick. So I said, in sort of a wry manner, that their plan was “don’t get sick.” All I really wanted to do was just call attention to the stark absence of a Republican plan. But Fox, trying to take the heat off Joe Wilson and Sarah Palin I guess, transmogrified that into a charge that Republicans want to kill people.

What you saw tonight is something much more sinister than not having a healthcare plan. It’s sadism, pure and simple. It’s the same impulse that led people in the Coliseum to cheer when the lions ate the Christians. And that seems to be where we are heading – bread and circuses, without the bread. The world that Hobbes wrote about – “the war of all against all.”

Congratulations, folks. We’ve evolved from “We, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union …” to, “I’ve got mine; f— you.”

The Rubric Theme. Get a free blog at WordPress.com

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,390 other followers

%d bloggers like this: