How Do You Solve A Problem Like Syria?

(This week’s post is a day late, for which I apologise.  It will unfortunately also be shorter than usual as the work builds to a screaming fury.  Normal service resumes next week.) I’ve been taking a class in Conflict Resolution (as an academic discipline rather than from a practical perspective as a mediator), and rather foolishly chose Syria as the subject for my various papers.  I say this was foolish because our final paper assignment is essentially to solve the conflict, and if I managed to achieve that within a 10-page paper I would send it to the United Nations … Continue reading How Do You Solve A Problem Like Syria?

Last Week In Syria

This week two particularly disheartening things happened in relation to Syria which don’t give me very much hope for the future. The first is, of course, the bomb in central Damascus at a checkpoint between the Russian embassy and the Ba’th Party headquarters. Over 50 people were killed, most of them civilians. The SNC, in a refreshing advance in their discourse, condemned the attack rather than claiming it was a government false-flag operation. SANA (Syrian official media) described it as a terrorist attack, which is technically true except that by ‘terrorists’, they mean the SNC, which is probably too disorganised … Continue reading Last Week In Syria

A (deeply unlikely) solution for Mali

Because I am not currently, and, if humanity is to survive, never will be, in a position of power and authority over others, perhaps I don’t understand the impulse for total domination and destruction which accompanies those lofty offices of state whose occupiers so frequently empower their enemies by attempting to thoroughly eliminate them.  This is an even more inane tactic considering that most modern enemies tend not to be concentrated in one easily-located area and try to keep their structures of power fluid and opaque (unless they’re other nations, of course).  One of the things which has made the … Continue reading A (deeply unlikely) solution for Mali

John Brennan: Sinister or cretinous (or both?)

Today, tomorrow, or possibly a little later – the Yemeni government has said that the votes might take some time to tabulate, as if we didn’t all already know the result! – for the first time in 33 years, Ali Abdullah Saleh will not be President of Yemen. American politicians and diplomats are already crowing about “democracy by the ballot box”, all the while ignoring that there is only a single candidate on the ballot paper and his rise to power is not really in doubt.  In fact, given that there is no minimum turnout specified for the results to … Continue reading John Brennan: Sinister or cretinous (or both?)

Rioters, Terrorists, and Zombies

In the aftermath of any major event, certain tropes crop up in the speech of politicians and unimaginative journalists, tropes which can often provide the key to understanding the deeper significance of that event.  In the case of the riots across England two weeks ago, the politicking slogan became “mindless violence”.  This gem was of course intimately linked to the belief that there was no socio-economic reason behind the riots, that they were not a political act. Leaving aside the debate about all this (although I have my own opinions), let us engage in a bit of hypothesis.  If there … Continue reading Rioters, Terrorists, and Zombies