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By Dave Lindorff
The forces arrayed in Washington propelling the nation into a war against Syria, including the Pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, the cabal of neo-conservative pundits and “think” tanks, whose ranks include President Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice, the arms industry, the oil industry and other groups, are very powerful, and it may well be that eventually sheer momentum will lead to a US bombing attack on Syria. But for the moment, a grass-roots anti-war campaign has triumphed.
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Haytham Manna is the Paris-based foreign spokesman for the National Coordinating Body for Democratic Change in Syria. The NCB was formed in June 2011 by 15 opposition groups and several independent figures who were leading anti-government protests in Syria. They have consistently agreed on three basic principles: non-violence, non-sectarianism and opposition to foreign intervention.
Duplicitous Anti-Syrian Editorials
by Stephen Lendman
Media scoundrels march in lockstep. When America goes to war or plans one, they're supportive right or wrong.
Throughout months of conflict, they pilloried Assad. They did so unjustifiably. They turned truth on its head. They blame him for insurgent crimes. They do it repeatedly.
Possible Consequences of a U.S. military attack on Syria—Remembering the Marine Barracks destruction in Beirut, 1983
By Ann Wright, WarIsACrime.org
Its 4 a.m. and I can’t sleep, just like 10 years ago when President Bush was telling the world that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the United States must invade and occupy Iraq to rid humanity of these weapons. I didn’t believe President Bush ten years ago and I resigned as a U.S. diplomat.
Now a decade later, President Obama is telling the world that the use of chemical weapons in Syria by the Assad government must be answered by other weapons, even though the results of the UN inspection team have not been compiled—just as the Bush administration refused to wait for the UN report by the inspectors who had been looking for WMD in Iraq.
A free, public, town-hall forum on Preventing a U.S. Attack on Syria: why and how.
Wednesday, September 4, 6:30 p.m.
Sign up to attend on FaceBook now
Helena Cobban is the founding owner of Just World Books, a Charlottesville-based book publisher. Previously, she had a long career as a writer and researcher on world affairs, focusing on the Middle East. She speaks Arabic and has reported and written extensively about Syria for nearly 40 years. Her 2000 book on the Syrian-Israeli peace talks of 1992-96 was published by the U.S. Institute of Peace. From 2008 through 2011 she was a member of the U.S.-Syria Working Group of Search for Common Ground. She is a member of Charlottesville Friends Meeting (Quakers) and sits on the board of Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.
John Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. He is president of the Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties and human rights organization. He authors a widely syndicated column and hosts a national public service radio campaign. His most recent book is A Government of Wolves. See Rutherford.org.
Dave Norris has served as a Charlottesville City Council Member or Mayor since 2006. He's executive director of the Charlottesville Institute. Norris has served as Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Blue Ridge, Executive Director of PACEM, Associate Director of Madison House, and Interim Director of the Public Housing Association of Residents. He is founder of the Charlottesville Vegetarian Festival. He has been a leading advocate for anti-war resolutions on Charlottesville City Council and in the U.S. Conference of Mayors, spoke at the Military Industrial Complex at 50 conference and will be MCing the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice's 30th anniversary celebration on September 21st. See CvilleDave.Blogspot.com.
Roy Hange is a Mennonite pastor who has spent 30 years studying Western Asia (the Middle East). He has lived for 3 years in Egypt, 6 in Syria, and 1 in Iran. Hange has taught peace building at Eastern Mennonite University and the University of Virginia. See CharlottesvilleMennonite.org.
David Swanson is the author of books including War Is A Lie and When the World Outlawed War. He is the host of Talk Nation Radio. Swanson blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org and works as Campaign Coordinator for the online activist organization RootsAction.org. Swanson also works on the communications committee of Veterans For Peace, of which he is an associate (non-veteran) member. Swanson is Secretary of Peace in the Green Shadow Cabinet.
Sponsored by WarIsACrime.org, Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, Amnesty International Charlottesville, Students for Peace and Justice in Palestine.
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The White House is treating the Syrian government like a potential drone strike victim.
President Barack Obama's preferred method for dealing with targeted individuals is not to throw them into lawless prisons. But it's also not to indict and prosecute them.
On June 7th, Yemeni tribal leader Saleh Bin Fareed told Democracy Now that Anwar al Awlaki could have been turned over and put on trial, but "they never asked us." In numerous other cases it is evident that drone strike victims could have been arrested if that avenue had ever been attempted.
A memorable example was the November 2011 drone killing in Pakistan of 16-year-old Tariq Aziz, days after he'd attended an anti-drone meeting in the capital, where he might easily have been arrested -- had he been charged with some crime.
Missile-strike law enforcement is now being applied to governments as well. The Libyan government was given a death sentence. The Syrian government is being sentenced to the loss of some citizens, buildings, and supplies.
The purpose is not to end the war, or even to speed the coming of the end of the war. The purpose is not to overthrow the government (an action which in Libya was not yet clearly recognizable as this new form of law enforcement). Nor, of course, is the purpose rehabilitation or restitution or reconciliation or most of the nobler motivations we sometimes assign to punishment. The purpose of sending missiles into Syria will be "punitive," meaning retributive. It will "send a message," possibly intended to include deterrence.
When the Bush-Cheney gang was accused of cruel and unusual punishment because it tortured, they replied: this isn't punishment, it's interrogation. But surely dropping missiles on people is not interrogation. It's advertised as punishment. And that's putting its best foot forward. It's punishment so that it doesn't have to be a crime itself.
For, of course, dropping missiles on people is normally itself a serious crime, just as kicking in your door at night with guns blazing is normally against the law. But if a policeman -- global or normal -- does it, well, then it's law enforcement, not law breaking.
This is why the U.S. government can itself use chemical weapons, while punishing others for doing so. It's the cop. It uses white phosphorus and napalm to enforce laws, or at least to do something in the line of duty. The BBC this week reported on yet another horrific incident in Syria, this one involving "napalm-like burns." The only way for the U.S., the land of napalm, to punish such acts with righteous indignation is through the immunity granted to the global police force.
I wrote a book three years ago called War Is A Lie in hopes of helping to build enough awareness so that some day we would have a majority against a war before it began, rather than a year and a half later. That day has arrived. The UK is a bit ahead of the USA, but we've all moved toward much greater and healthier scepticism toward war lies.
We don't believe that the evil of Assad justifies bombing Syrians. We laugh when Obama says Syria might theoretically attack us some day. We don't see the supposed generosity in dropping bombs on an already war-torn nation. We don't accept that a war is inevitable. We watch Parliament say no and wonder where Congress is.
Congress members have been "urging" the president to consult with them, centuries after this country was formed by supposedly leaving royal powers behind in England. When will Congress members call for a return to Washington for an emergency session? When will they vote to block funding for any attack on Syria? They should be aware that by not taking these actions they have made themselves complicit in our eyes, and in the eyes of the world.
Phil Ochs saw the Global War on Terra Part II coming when he sang:
Come, get out of the way, boys
Quick, get out of the way
You'd better watch what you say, boys
Better watch what you say
We've rammed in your harbor and tied to your port
And our pistols are hungry and our tempers are short
So bring your daughters around to the port
'Cause we're the cops of the world, boys
We're the cops of the world
An Appeal to Gen. Dempsey on Syria
Gen. Martin Dempsey, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, has spoken soberly about the dangers from any military strike on Syria, but press reports indicate President Obama is still set on launching cruise missiles in the coming days, an action that former U.S. intelligence professionals say should prompt Dempsey’s resignation.
MEMORANDUM FOR: General Martin Dempsey, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
SUBJECT: Syria and Our Oath to Defend the Constitution
Dear Gen. Dempsey:
5pm Dupont Circle
Friday, August 30, 2013.
Si se puede y se hace!
"The bombs in Vietnam explode at home – they destroy the hopes and possibilities for a decent America."
- Martin Luther King Jr.
The drums of war have again intensified. In the White House, the Congress, the Pentagon, the press, the think tanks, the war-profiteers… but we, the people, are not silent. Fifty years after the historic March on Washington, we continue the dream - of a world based on justice, solidarity, mutual aid, dialogue, peace.The struggle did not end in '63, and the spirit remains alive. International and national outrage is growing in the face of new war, our solidarity is slowing the imperialists… let's not stop now!
As Syrians wait to see if they will join the long list of nations the US war-machine has bombed over the years, we say that no longer will we tolerate more racist, imperialist wars. We reject the notion that bombing Syrians will make them safer. History cannot repeat itself. President Obama must listen to the words of Martin Luther King, when he said that "the security we profess to seek in foreign adventures, we will lose in our decaying cities. The bombs in Vietnam explode at home – they destroy the hopes and possibilities for a decent America."
As we fight war, we also reject the surveillance state that is being set up around us. As we work to dismantle the corporate war-machine, we also work to dismantle the New Jim Crow, the school-to-prison pipeline, the manufactured housing crisis, poverty, racism, materialism, militarism…
Join us on Friday, August 30, at 5pm in Dupont Circle as we take our message to the streets and on our bikes! Wear your helmets, signs, whistles, lights, and bring your affirmation for a new world. Ride with us. We seek to construct the "decent America" of which we dream. We are doing it!
Hands off Syria! A new world is being created!
Meet at DUPONT CIRCLE at 5pm, Friday August 30, 2013.
facebook event page:
From Bob Parry:
this storyline from Gordon and other mainstream journalists isn’t accurate. Indeed, from May to July. the U.S. news media, including the New York Times, reported a different scenario: that Assad had agreed to participate in the Geneva peace talks but that the opposition was refusing to attend.
On July 31, for example, Ben Hubbard of the New York Times reported that “the new conditions, made by the president of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, Ahmad al-Jarba, … reflected a significant hardening of his position. He said that the opposition would not negotiate with President Bashar al-Assad or ‘his clique’ and that talks could begin only when the military situation in Syria was positive for rebel forces.”
The opposition has spelled out other preconditions, including the need for the United States to supply the rebels with more sophisticated weapons and a demand that Assad’s Lebanese Hezbollah allies withdraw from Syria. The most recent excuse for the rebels not going to Geneva is the dispute over Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons.
U.S. Military Officers Oppose Attacking Syria -- Let's Hope They Don't Get the Chelsea Manning Treatment
This is what the Espionage Act was originally intended to stamp out: opposition to U.S. wars, proposed or engaged in:
From Washington Post:
“There’s a broad naivete in the political class about America’s obligations in foreign policy issues, and scary simplicity about the effects that employing American military power can achieve,” said retired Lt. Gen. Gregory S. Newbold, who served as director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the run-up to the Iraq war, noting that many of his contemporaries are alarmed by the plan.
A young Army officer who is wrapping up a year-long tour there said soldiers were surprised to learn about the looming strike, calling the prospect “very dangerous.” “I can’t believe the president is even considering it,” said the officer, who like most officers interviewed for this story agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity because military personnel are reluctant to criticize policymakers while military campaigns are being planned.
The recently retired head of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. James Mattis, said last month at a security conference that the United States has “no moral obligation to do the impossible” in Syria. “If Americans take ownership of this, this is going to be a full-throated, very, very serious war,” said Mattis, who as Centcom chief oversaw planning for a range of U.S. military responses in Syria.
The potential consequences of a U.S. strike include a retaliatory attack by the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah — which supports Assad — on Israel, as well as cyberattacks on U.S. targets and infrastructure, U.S. military officials said.
Response to the US administration and other governments referring to MSF Statement of August 24
28 August 2013 - Over the last two days, the US Administration and other governmental authorities have referred to reports from several agencies, including Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), while stating that the use of chemical weapons in Syria was “undeniable” and to designate the perpetrators. MSF today warned that its medical information could not be used as evidence to certify the precise origin of the exposure to a neurotoxic agent nor to attribute responsibility.
Last Saturday, MSF said that three hospitals it supports in Syria’s Damascus governorate had reportedly received 3,600 patients displaying neurotoxic symptoms, of which 355 died. Although our information indicates mass exposure to a neurotoxic agent, MSF clearly stated that scientific confirmation of the toxic agent was required and therefore an independent investigation was needed to shed light on what would constitute, if confirmed, a massive and unacceptable violation of international humanitarian law. MSF also stated that in its role as a medical humanitarian organisation, it was not in a position to determine responsibility for the event.
Now that an investigation is underway by UN inspectors, MSF rejects that our statement be used as a substitute for the investigation or as a justification for military action. As an independent medical humanitarian organisation, MSF's sole purpose is to save lives, alleviate the suffering of populations torn by Syrian conflict, and bear witness when confronted with a critical event, in strict compliance with the principles of neutrality and impartiality.
Stop the War bulletin | August 2013 | stopwar.org.uk
We stopped Cameron, but Obama still plans war: demonstrate tomorrow
The defeat of Cameron's war plans last night was a historic moment.
It represented the victory of mass anti-war opinion over the interests of the UK elite that has been enthusiastically participating in US-led wars over the last decade and more.
There can be no doubt that the hundreds of demonstrations, protests, rallies and pickets of the last twelve years have been central to bringing the war makers low and making it impossible for Cameron to join in another catastrophic attack.
Congratulations to every single person who has taken action against war over those years. Protest has been successful. We have made a difference.
Obama and the US remaining allies are still committed to an attack on Syria. Britain was the key US ally. Forcing Cameron out of the war is a big blow to the west's war plans. Now we must redouble our efforts to stop any attack on Syria.
The world will be watching London tomorrow, we need the biggest possible turnout to send a message around the globe that the anti war majority is staying in the streets.
Please do everything to spread the word there is a facebook event here.
To keep the pressure up we are calling a picket of the US embassy on Tuesday 3 September at 5.30pm. More details to be announced shortly.
In a fairly remarkable defeat to the UK Conservative Party's Prime Minister David Cameron, the British Parliament voted against intervention in Syria in a preliminary vote today. That could change in a subsequent vote, but, hey, at least they met, debated and voted! And that was after Cameron's government actually, publicly offered their legal basis for such intervention and an intelligence assessment [PDF] they claim supports it.
Meanwhile, back in these United States, John Nichols details the several bi-partisan --- and surprisingly robust --- Congressional letters calling on President Obama to seek Congressional approval before taking military action against Syria. So far, over 150 members of Congress have signed on to those efforts.
In all, the New York Times concluded this morning (even before the vote in Parliament): "momentum for Western military strikes against Syria appeared to slow."
While a healthy portion of the U.S. Congress members speaking up are progressive Democrats, interestingly (though, perhaps, not surprisingly?), there are far more Republicans, this time around, joining the effort to call on the President to wait for an Article 1, Section 8 declaration of war from Congress --- or, at least, some form of authorization from the Legislative branch --- as clearly envisioned (an actual conservative would say "required") by the U.S. Constitution.
It's nice to see Congress, this time around --- at least more than 150 of its members --- calling on the President to do the right thing. On the other hand, Congress has its own responsibility here...
They are currently not in session. And while one of the letters [PDF], written by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and signed by 53 colleagues as of Thursday, promises Obama: "We stand ready to work with you," and another Congressional letter [PDF], the one with the most signatories on it (140 as of Thursday afternoon), written by Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA) vows: "Congress can reconvene at your request," the leadership in Congress --- Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid --- haven't bothered to call members back to session. They are perfectly capable of doing so without waiting for a request from the President.
As he prepares to launch cruise missiles against the sovereign state that poses no threat to the United States, President Barack Obama's administration is spouting leaks of major proportion. (Image)
The Associate Press reports that
"… multiple U.S. officials used the phrase "not a slam dunk" to describe the intelligence picture -- a reference to then-CIA Director George Tenet's insistence in 2002 that U.S. intelligence showing Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was a 'slam dunk' -- intelligence that turned out to be wrong." Associated Press, August 29
President Obama couldn't launch even one cruise missile before multiple U.S. officials began undermining the intelligence report that was to form the basis for confidence in military action against the Syrian government.
Nobel Peace Laureate Obama Plans War on Syria Based on Lies
by Stephen Lendman
In awarding its 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, Committee members turned truth on its head, saying:
Obama made "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."
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Here's a new report.
The next question might be: where does Saudi Arabia get its weapons?
By Bruce Gagnon
This is how it works.
The US has been providing Egypt with nearly $2 billion a year in "aid" since 1979. Most of this is military aid. That "aid" is then used to buy weapons from American corporations. So in reality most of US foreign aid becomes more welfare programs for the military industrial complex.
Because of current civil war conditions in Egypt the Obama team is having to hold off on providing more aid to that embattled nation. A recent Pew Research Center poll found that 51% of respondents said it's better to cut off military assistance to Egypt, while 26% backed continued aid.
The "aid" now on temporary hold would include: F-16 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin; M1A1 tanks from General Dynamics; and Apache attack helicopters made by Boeing Co.
CBS News reported on August 20: "The billion dollars in aid Congress approved for Egypt does not go directly to Cairo, it goes to places such as Archbald, Pennsylvania. The General Dynamics factory there makes parts for the M1A1 tank. General Dynamics is filling an order for 125 tank kits for the Egyptian Army. One-hundred-thirty people work at the Archbald facility."
You can imagine the workers at the Archbald facility want this "aid" to continue. Archbald Mayor Ed Fairbrother says the jobs are "extremely important" to the community. "They are some of the best jobs we have in the community," he says. "Those are the kinds of jobs that sustain communities and families."
There are 44 companies in Pennsylvania involved in production of the M1A1. The interesting thing is that Egypt does not need the tanks and many of the "kits" are still in crates after being delivered to their military.
American communities have become addicted to war spending and military production. As most traditional manufacturing industry has moved overseas seeking cheaper labor the best jobs in most parts of the nation are building weapons. It's thus no coincidence that the #1 industrial export product of our nation is weapons. And what is our global marketing strategy for that product line? Hello Syria!
WASHINGTON -- Citing his responsibility to represent the views of his constituents, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) said Thursday that he can't support an attack on Syria that his voters strongly oppose.
"One thing that is perfectly clear to me in my district, and I think is true in many other districts from speaking to other members, is that there is no desire, no desire on the part of people to be the world's policeman," Grayson said on SiriusXM's "The Agenda with Ari Rabin-Havt," which aired Thursday morning. "For us to pick up this gauntlet even on the basis of unequivocal evidence of chemical warfare by the Syrian army, deliberately against its own people -- even if there were unequivocal evidence of that -- that's just not what people in my district want."
That doesn't mean that opposition is universal, Grayson allowed. "I did notice, for what it's worth, that the manufacturer of the missiles that would be used has had an incredible run in their stock value in the last 60 days. Raytheon stock is up 20 percent in the past 60 days as the likelihood of the use of their missiles against Syria becomes more likely. So I understand that there is a certain element of our society that does benefit from this, but they're not the people who vote for me, or by the way the people who contribute to my campaign," he said. "Nobody wants this except the military-industrial complex."
Evidence of "weapons of mass destruction" is "no slam dunk," U.S. officials are saying this time around, reversing the claim made about Iraq by then-CIA director George Tenet.
Opposition to a U.S.-led attack on Syria is growing rapidly in Europe and the United States, drawing its strength from public awareness that the case made for attacking Iraq had holes in it.
Obama's War on Syria Based on Lies
by Stephen Lendman
All wars are based on lies. Claims about Syrian forces using chemical weapons are false. They're malicious.
They're bald-faced lies. They're repeated anyway. John Kerry wrongfully accused Syria of using chemical weapons.
Obama's Cruise Missile Diplomacy
by Stephen Lendman
Settling things through the barrel of a gun reflects longstanding US policy. Shoot first, ask questions later defines it.
Invented pretexts initiate conflicts. Defending the indefensible repeats with disturbing regularity.
By Joshua Brollier
To those who think the United States should intervene in Syria,
Remember this is the same United States which;
· is still deeply involved in two failed wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan that have lasted for over a decade without coming to a conclusion.
· is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not over a million Iraqis and Afghans through aerial bombardments, night raids, artillery shelling, ground missions and genocidal sanctions.
· used depleted uranium and white phosphorous munitions in Iraq leading to a sharp increase in cancerous birth defects in areas like Fallujah.
· knowingly aided Saddam Hussein with intelligence while being completely aware that he was using chemical weapons against Iran.
· has systematically tortured and/or overseen the torture of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Bagram prison, Abu Ghraib, and numerous CIA rendition and black sites.
· is engaged in an illegal, vicious and indiscriminate drone war in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia which has murdered numerous women, children and non-combatants with total casualties estimates ranging around 3000-5000.
· bankrolled (and refused to condemn) the Israeli army as they used white phosphorous shells to attack civilians at Al-Quds hospital and a U.N. compound housing refugees in Gaza in 2009.
· actively supported dictator Hosni Mubarak and his torturous military regime with weapons for over three decades.
· is now complicit in the massacres being committed by the very same Egyptian military under the coup government led by General Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi which has murdered over 1000 people in cold blood in the last month.
· armed and trained fundamentalists forces, including the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan, that eventually gave birth to Al-Qaeda and similar groups.
· backed former Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali by sending $12 million in “security assistance” to suppress the popular uprising at the start of the Arab Spring revolutions.
· has left Libya, and consequently Mali, in a state of chaos after a 2011 supposed “humanitarian intervention” to remove Muammar el-Qaddafi.
· pushed the Pakistani military from 2007 -2010 to carry out dreadfully unaccountable operations in the SWAT, FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which led to the death of 1300 civilians and the internal displacement of nearly 4 million Pakistanis.
· regularly persecutes and incarcerates its own dissenters, war resisters, and whistleblowers.
· does not want you to remember the horrors of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Agent Orange and the Gulf War Syndrome.
The many atrocities committed by the Assad regime since the start of the Syrian revolution are absolutely unacceptable and the stories emerging from the country are completely heartbreaking. And in fairness, the war crimes committed by the many rebel militias operating in Syria, though lesser in number and intensity, are gruesome and also unacceptable. The recent chemical attacks are undoubtedly a very disturbing development. The 100,000 lives lost prior to these attacks were every bit as precious and the suffering of their families is no easier due to the type of weapons which killed their loved ones.
As an outsider, I cannot pretend to know what the answer is to resolving this conflict, providing justice to those who have been harmed, or building a stable and inclusive Syria for all its inhabitants. I am not sure that anyone knows. The Arab and Muslim states and various militias are divided by their specific interests. The large foreign powers all have their own agendas primarily based on competing imperial calculations. Ordinary Syrians’ voices are being drowned out by the violence and more immediate concerns like seeking bread and shelter. (However, it is important to recognize that with all the focus on foreign Islamist fighters in the conflict, Syrians have remained active in the resistance, both armed and non-armed, to the Assad regime. They, of course, also make up the ranks of the government’s forces.)
I lean towards agreeing with Patrick Coburn’s analysis that a first step in ending this nightmarish stalemate would be pressuring all sides involved in the fighting and the major regional and outside powers (who undoubtedly wield influence with the government and rebels) to immediately negotiate a ceasefire. The US has reportedly abandoned any participation in peace proceedings and is finalizing plans for air strikes. But even to those who see some sort of armed intervention as necessary, I would ask you to critically re-question the United States' record in the region as a credible force for democracy, as a responsible and moral military and as a suitable partner for peacemaking.
With the drumbeats for war building and as US warships are arriving off the Syrian coast, I urge us all to speak out, work together and collectively seek another solution before even more of Syria is destroyed. There are many potential disastrous implications and consequences to increased US involvement in Syria and the region. With the United States hypocritical and self-serving track record, another blunderous intervention will only make things worse.
Joshua Brollier is a co-coordinator with Voices for Creative Nonviolence. He has participated in delegations and peace-building efforts in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt and Palestine. He studied Arabic in Syria from September 2010- February 2011.
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