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After Homs

Written By: - Date published: 11:04 am, March 5th, 2012 - 39 comments
Categories: human rights, war - Tags:

In my previous post I laid out the reasons why a NATO/US intervention in Syria is unlikely, even though the alternative will almost certainly be defeat of the freedom fighters and even more mass murder by the regime. There’s no strategic gain from the Right’s perspective and many on the Left would rather see a massacre than US military action. Homs has fallen. So, what next for the rebels?

The fracturing of a regime’s monopoly on violence is a necessary precursor to a successful revolution. Often, particularly in modern times, this will mean part of the security forces will go over to the other side or refuses to fight. Syria has that with the mass desertion of Sunni conscripts, many of whom have joined the Free Syrian Army or other local groups.

Sometimes, that is enough to break the regime’s resolve (eg Ukraine’s Orange Revolution and the overthrow of Milosevic) if the regime is decrepit and can’t face an internal military confrontation. The Syrain people weren’t so lucky – their tyrant has plenty of fight in him.

The Free Syrian Army’s initial strategy was very sound, classic guerrilla warfare. They launched hit and run attacks on elements of the special security forces and left the regular army alone, apart from some ambushes where they shot officers and invited the conscripts to join them or desert. They didn’t seek to hold land or cities, they sought to do damage and then disappear. And they didn’t bring the wrath of the regime on civilians

It’s a good strategy. One that’s worked numerous times over thousands of years – slowly ebbing away the regime’s strength and isolating it, while keeping the population onside and gaining their trust. Like Mao says, the guerrilla must swim in the people as the fish swims in the sea.

But there’s a classic counter-strategy to this that a regime which is willing to play sufficiently hardball will employ: identify a civilian well-spring of the rebellion and pound the shit out of it. Unless they are extraordinarily disciplined and well-led (eg the Viet Cong), the rebels can be drawn into trying to defend their civilians and fighting in the regime’s terms – a classic face-to-face battle where heavy weapons excel, rather than light infantry shoot and scoot, which is where the rebels have a natural advantage.

That’s what happened at Homs. The deployment of the regime army around what was already a centre of the rebellion drew in more and more rebel fighters. Satellite imagery compiled from Human Rights Watch shows 1000s of shells were fired into the Baba Amr quarter killing hundreds of rebel fighters and civilians before the Free Syrian Army withdrew. In the aftermath, there are reports of summary executions and the Red Cross/Red Crescent has been denied access (hey, conspiracy theorists – I’m sure they’re all part of the conspiracy that is inventing this whole thing for no reason too).

So the Free Syrian Army as been given a hiding. What now? It could well be that the groundswell of support for overthrowing the regime will diminish now that the rebel fighters have been seen to be defeated, and as word of the regime’s atrocities spreads with the clear rider: you could be next. That’s what happened after Assad’s daddy did the same thing to Hama 30 years ago.

But, if we want to see the murderer Assad gone, then the Free Syrian Army could still pull it off, if they go back to the tactics that work. They will need to be disciplined about refusing to take the regime forces on in front-on combat. Instead, fight by ambush and gradually weaken until the regime’s ability to project its power and enforce its rule fades. Don’t try to take or hold land, just make it impossible for the regime to do so. It’s a long-term strategy and it means not being drawn into defending cities – when the Vietnamese did it the cost was appalling.

But, if the rest of the world is going to sit on its chuff and let Assad murder his people, slow and bloody is the only way that the Syrian people will win their freedom.

Frankly, it looks like Assad’s going to crush the rebels now and Syrians will suffer greatly without gaining self-determination. I understand the realpolitik of letting these people die but let’s not pretend that we aren’t turning our backs on them.

39 comments on “After Homs”

  1. Conal 1

    I can’t help feeling that another motive for the rebel strategy was to provoke a decisive NATO intervention on their side as was done in Kosovo and Libya.

  2. muzza 2

    Can anyone from The Standard please explain why the site is letting this unblanced writing about such a sentitive topic, continue to be published with seemingly no QA, or factual research by the author?

    Can the author at least list the sources he is using to substantiate his views?

    • Te Reo Putake 2.1

      The posts are intended to start discussion, Muzza. It’s an opinion, which we’re all free to counter (or agree with).

      • muzza 2.1.1

        So you think that opinion pieces are appropiate when talking about a war zone Voice?

        While I concur about the discussions part relating to the articles on the site, those written about the ME, have been heavily lacking in any attempt to bring balance for such subject matter.

        The readers on this site are possible rather more decerning than say the NZH, where I have seen a more balanced point of view than this drivel!

        I do not buy your rationale on this at all!

        • Te Reo Putake 2.1.1.1

          Yes, muzza, I do think opinion pieces are appropriate when talking about war zones. It would be very strange if that were not the case! Indeed, the anti-war movement have used opinion pieces to make their point since at least the Vietnam war, to my certain knowlege.
           
          Opinion pieces are not required to be internally balanced, because they represent an individual’s view of a subject. They can, however, be externally balanced by having an alternative POV also presented, if the publisher feels that is appropriate. That works in, say, Time magazine, or the Listener, but it’s hardly needed on a blog.
           
          In this case, MV’s opinion seems to have some substance. It’s a well presented picture of the situation there, as he sees it. I don’t agree with all he says, but I haven’t seen any serious rebuttal of it yet, either. If their needs to be balance, then by all means provide it. But I would still encourage MV to continue posting, because these are issues that need to be talked about.
           
          My quick summary of the Syrian situation: Assad should be captured or killed as soon as possible. But that won’t happen because the Syrians don’t have much oil.

    • Conal 2.2

      Yes It’s interesting how completely this toes the official NATO line, albeit with a “left” tinge. It’s not something isolated though; I’ve seen the same thing on social-democratic blogs a number of times, backing NATO against the governments of Yugoslavia and Libya, in particular. Let’s not underestimate the ideological power of the mass media to justify wars!

      A couple of major points to note:

      There’s an absolute dichotomy presented between Assad the Tyrant on the one hand, and the entire Syrian People on the other, apparently fully represented by the FSA Freedom Fighters. Does Assad’s regime not have considerable popular support? Actually it does, but you would never guess it from this article. It’s very much a cardboard cut-out picture of Syria.

      Another interesting point is how it identifies with Western imperialism. The talk about “getting off your chuff” is I suppose code for a NATO bombing campaign or even invasion. The identification of “us” with NATO is astonishing. Are “we” really turning our backs on the Syrian people? I don’t even have a single drone, fighter bomber, or cruise missile (and NZ as a whole is not much better equipped in that respect, actually). Am I in charge of NATO? Is NZ? Are the populations of the countries who actually make up NATO? Hardly. So hho exactly is this “we”?

      Note also that other countries (in the Arab League for instance, and also Russia) got “off their chuffs” to try to organise peace talks between the warring sides. Isn’t that a commendable effort? Why is war apparently the only option? And why did the Syrian opposition refuse to negotiate with Assad? They thought they could triumph militarily by themselves? Unlikely! They thought NATO would intervene to assure their victory? Perhaps if NATO had been less bellicose they might have considered a negotiated solution instead.

      • Blighty 2.2.1

        Assad represents the ruling Alawite elite, which maintains its power through secret police, repression and bombardment of cities that rise up. If you call that ‘popular support’, well, good for you.

    • Blighty 2.3

      write a guest post if you want to offer a counter view.

      You could title it: Why the Syrian rebels deserve to die

      • Conal 2.3.1

        Yes, because what I really want to do is to buy into a mirror image of the same simplistic and naive view presented here.

        This isn’t “Cowboys and Indians”, Blighty.

        [edit] whoops I think Blighty’s snide comment was actually to someone else.

    • lprent 2.4

      All posts written by our authors are their opinions. That is why their names or pseudonyms are attached to the posts. There is no editorial policy (apart from “I don’t want to be sued” or “all the other authors are up in arms”) for authors that we give logins to. Neither is the case with these posts. Commentators are up in arms usually doesn’t rate because you usually find a wider range of opinion…

      If you disagree then comment on why you disagree (just don’t personally attack the author because I grant holidays from commenting for that). If you want to make it more prominent then write a guest post and send it in. We will usually post anything that is coherent and argues an opinion.

      BTW: It is reasonably comment to find other authors disagreeing in comments, and sometimes even getting wound up enough to write opposing posts. The most recent I remember is Zet? writing something sarcastic about Shearer, and then Mike writing something complimentary.

  3. coolas 3

    A link to The Independent and Robert Fisk – thanks to NoRightTurn – gives a broader point of view

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-the-fearful-realities-keeping-the-assad-regime-in-power-7534769.html

    Sickening to read the comments about Falluja in 2004 where US forces killed thousands of civilians and left a toxic legacy by using white phosphorous. The US target weren’t ‘freedom fighters’, of course. They were ‘rebels’ or ‘terrorists.’ So that’s okay!

    • SpaceMonkey 3.1

      Add to the white phosphorous the copius amounts of DU the US have littered around Iraq (some 1,000 tons within the first 3 weeks) and now Libya.

      http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=3116
      http://www.voltairenet.org/NATO-War-Crimes-Depleted-Uranium

      • coolas 3.1.1

        Thanks for links. But shocking, eh. I just can’t get my head around how this is allowed to happen.

        • Conal 3.1.1.1

          It’s shocking alright. But to drag the topic of conversation back to this post about the Syrian conflict, I would argue that this kind of post is itself very much part of how Western aggression is allowed to happen. Western imperialists have learned from the failure of their war against Vietnam that they need to exert more effective ideological control over their own populations when waging wars overseas. Especially in left forums like the Standard, actually, since this is the kind of place where anti-war positions might be expected. The ideology of “humanitarian intervention” is a useful tool for war-mongers who are happy to use it as a fig-leaf for wars which they actually wage for very different reasons, and with very different results.

          There’s a standard pattern in psyops of this type: firsts demonise the enemy-of-the-day, white-wash their opposition, and hand-wringingly ask “why won’t someone intervene for humanitarian reasons?” There’s a lot of talk about law and morality and responsibility to protect.

          Then when the imperial powers start their military campaign, there’s a psyops campaign to white-wash it; all ordnance used are “smart bombs” incapable of killing civilians; all the dead are deemed to have been legitimate targets; all the country’s destroyed infrastructure turns out to have been military in nature; enemy journalists killed were actually propagandists who deserved death; etc. Contradictory reports are deemed to be enemy propaganda. Contradictory reports that are too well-attested to be denied are deemed to be highly exceptional “collateral damage” which is regretted but sacrifices have to be made, etc.

          A few weeks later the whole thing can be forgotten. The new rulers can commit all kinds of crimes, including ethnic cleansing, torture and assassination. The gaze of the world’s media has moved on to yet another benighted third world country ruled by an “evil tyrant” who must be killed for the sake of humanity. “Mission Accomplished”.

          • Morrissey 3.1.1.1.1

            The ideology of “humanitarian intervention” is a useful tool for war-mongers…

            Quite true. The call for “humanitarian intervention” might carry some moral weight if it were not led by the likes of Hillary Clinton, William Hague and Nicholas Sarkozy. Not one of these human rights champions uttered a single word in favour of “humanitarian intervention” during Israel’s bloody invasions of Lebanon or Gaza. In fact, they all applauded the killing.

          • coolas 3.1.1.1.2

            Interesting – Evil Saddam v’s the Liberators, Evil Gaddafi v’s Democracy warriors, Evil Mubarak v’s People Power .. now .. Evil Assad v’s the Freedom Army. It reads like advertising (and comics) which is what you’re saying it is really. And I get your point that this post panders to that simplistic idea. Good v’s Evil. Got it. Where’s the remote?

  4. Kevin 4

    Assad has a lot of external support from Iran and also has been materially equipped with weapons and munitions from Russia and to a lesser degree China.
    Without that support Assad’s regime would struggle in a long drawn out civil war where the opposing forces, the Free Syria Army, with support from Nato, could mount a sustained and co ordinated response to the brutal regimes crackdown on democratic reforms.
    Assad realises that he is a marked man, and will always be a potential assassination target, a dead man walking. He won’t be able to maintain his hard line position over the long term.
    The Free Syria Army looks to have lost this initial battle, no doubt the recriminations against the organisers will be severe and brutal, however the seed of democracy has been planted and will grow over time especially with support from Nato agencies.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      however the seed of democracy has been planted and will grow over time especially with support from Nato agencies.

      Sure, every time NATO gets involved this is exactly what happens. What’s happening now in Libya BTW after NATO involvement? Any more Al Qaeda flags appearing on the government buildings there + declarations of Sharia law?

      You guys gotta be dreaming. Look how well the installment of the Shah of Iran or supporting the ‘freedom fighters’ in Afghanistan has gone for the west. Its like everyone has memories like sandflies.

  5. house 5

    Whilst I don’t want the Free Syrian Army to die (moreover I don’t want the civilians surrounding them to die), I’m not sure I want them to win either. Too often for the past 200 years Westerners have assumed the position of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. As the current mess in Libya illustrates (as equally messy situations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Cambodia, etc have in the past) sometimes overthrowing bad results in worse.

    Anyway Fisk wrote a reasonable piece on the issue of the Free Syrian Army:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-could-there-be-some-bad-guys-among-the-rebels-too-6719999.html

  6. prism 6

    Conal and muzza are against the post it seems. But I still don’t understand what they think are the problems facing Syrian anti-government fighters. Are they wrong to oppose the government?
    Are they unreasonable malcontents?

    And why does each theatre of war have to drag all the others along on its back – Syria seen in connection with Gaddafi, with Saddam, with Israel etc. Almost the USA domino theory relating to Vietnam over again. It will be easy to say crushingly to me, that all these ME conflicts are related, but Syrians still have their own nation to contend with. Lecturing commenters isn’t talking about Syrians and why a significant group might, do, want to change governance.

    What role does religion play? There was a mention that Sunni fighters withdrew from the government army. Is there a split along these lines? I’ll see what Robert Fisk says from house link above.

    • Conal 6.1

      Just a quick answer, from my perspective.

      I deliberately didn’t give an opinion on the rights and wrongs of the Syrian uprising. I’m absolutely sure that the opposition has valid reasons for discontent with the Baath Party regime. No doubt about it. But I’m not going to presume to lecture them on how to carry out their political struggle. That’s their business.

      Which brings me to the crux of my opposition to this post. The key point of this post, it seems to me, is to attempt to justify Western military attacks on a sovereign state, through a spurious appeal to humanitarianism, whereas in fact the benefits of these attacks flow primarily to elite sectors within the Western powers themselves.

      I say “spurious” because the military establishments of the Western “great powers” don’t intervene for humanitarian reasons. That’s just not how they roll. If that were the real motive, then they would have intervened in a much larger number of dire humanitarian crises, which I’m not going to list; suffice to say that if you look at the record, it’s more than a bit patchy.

      When the Western powers do intervene, there’s typically another rather obvious self-serving motive to be seen. In the Middle East, strategic control of the world’s major oil reserves is the most obvious consideration. Imperialism is a real phenomenon in world politics; the elites of the Great Powers know what they want and they’ll lie and bully and go to war at the drop of a hat if it looks necessary.

      That’s the thread that links all these wars together.

      • MValley 6.1.1

        the rebels are asking for help to stop them being slaughtered by the regime’s heavy weapons so that they can win their freedom. We would ask for (and get because most of us are white) the same help if it was us.

        As for ‘you can’t a attack a sovereign state no matter what they do to their people’, that’s a notion that I would have hoped went out in 1945.

        • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.1

          Starting an unwinnable and widespread war against a regime with heavy weapons and then asking for help afterwards from outside is a low quality, untenable, non-military strategy.

        • Con 6.1.1.2

          So if NZ was languishing under some cruel tyranny, NATO would come to our aid because we’re white? Like how NATO came to the aid of those Chileans during the years of Pinochet’s dictatorship? Or how NATO overthrew the fascist regime of Generalissimo Franco? No, because NATO doesn’t work like that. They’re not some kind of international humanitarian aid agency, no matter what they’d like you to think.

          It beggars belief the illusions some people harbour about NATO and US imperialism generally! You only have to look at what they actually do. If they invade a country, it’s to subordinate it to their rule. That’s what they’re paying good money for; not to make the world a happy place. And that’s why, if NATO were to attack Syria, no matter what high-sounding motives and goals they claimed to have, it would not produce a good outcome for Syrians, or for other countries in the region.

    • muzza 6.2

      My isue is with the article at this stage, as the author is IMO responsible for propagating a so called point of view which reads as ignortantly unresearched. Some seem to think that opinion pieces are ok on such suvject matter, but that is weak and a cop out! When you are talking about war, at least have the depth to give it some serious balanced thought. Yes its a blog, but what is the difference between this space or a similar piece of nonsene in the MSM? Actually the difference is that I would expect better from this site!

      Writing from an angle which seems to want to induce the thoughts of the reader into reasons why the west should intervene, is simply not good enough. If the writer gave some sort of balance then came up with the conclusions the west should intervene, I would still disagree., but at least it would be balanced.

      Syria is a complicated situation, and that is why I am have not given opinions, as I have not spent the time researching it enough. So far as events in Libya which is did comment on in the authors Iran piece, as I had taken time to try to understand the happenings, and also had first hand information from people who were inside Libya, and who are from that country.

      An article like this should have links, and so far Michaels writings have not given a single one! Having read Fisks articles, it is clear that MV would do well do leave this subject matter alone until he has some very sound knowledge on the situation, either that or just simple ak for peoples opinions, instead of writing his own, which looks to be very wrong!

      • MValley 6.2.1

        yeah. you got me. it’s all made up. I’m listening to audio of refugees from Homs on Radio NZ now about how their men are being executed. But it’s clearly all a fabrication. The ‘refugees’ are in on it. So is the BBC. So’s Radio NZ.

        Why would they all conspire to invent this? Don’t ask stupid questions. ‘They’ want to slander that nice man Assad and justify an intervention.

        But everyone knows Assad and his father have ruled by murder and terror for 45 years, there’s no strategic value in Syria for the West and they clearly don’t want to intervene or they would have done so already.

        Trust me. I’ve done plenty of research on the Middle East.

        • Colonial Viper 6.2.1.1

          Trust me. I’ve done plenty of research on the Middle East.

          I mean, this is the nub of the issue. Chechnya, Tibet, Sudan, East Timor plenty of places in the world where govts oppress and kill civilians via secret police and military means for years and decades, yet its whoever the “Allies” are interested in for whatever particular geopolitical priorities they have on a particular day which are deemed important.

      • lprent 6.2.2

        It doesn’t indicate unresearched to me. It sounds like a continuation of the depressing pattern that Syria has displayed over the last 30 years that I have watched and read about it. The main difference this time is how widespread the rebellion is. That will constrain the regime on their usual divide and conquer tactics and require occupation forces across much of the country. But they probably don’t have enough supporting populations to do it this time.

        I think that this time there is going to be enough porosity on neighboring borders to sustain a internal guerrilla war. And an unwillingness on the part of conscripts to get conscripted.

  7. Pascal's bookie 7

    Not entirely sure if I can be bothered engaging with this, (particulary on a dodgy connection the back up PC), but it really is some pretty superficial and intellectually dishonest dreck.

    Rather than just characterising the opinions of those with whom you disagree, why don’t you link to them?

    I’ve read pretty widely on this, and I’ve not seen anyone say that the west shouldn’t charge in because “America”. Maybe I don’t read the things you read, but you clearly don’t read what I’ve been reading either, so we are at a match there.

    The case against intervention is based on realism. The regime is much better equiped than that in Libya was. They are not going to be running short on heavy armour, artillery, or missiles for a long time unless we are prepared to go with some very heavy bombardment with all that entails.

    You just can’t wave your hands around the question of what our intervention will do in terms of the regime’s reaction. If we intervene, we will be bound to the ongoing conflict, we will be bound to react to the reaction from the regime’s supporters in Iran, and so on. We will be responsible for the regimes reaction insofar that if/when they step up their response in terms of death squads summary executions and what not, we will have to do something about that. Boots on the ground cannot be taken off the table. If you take them off the table, you give the regime obvious moves to make.

    On the self determination question, it’s apple pie. But to be worth eating, it has to be cooked right. If the regime has lost the monopoly on the use of force, and a civil war is in place that will result in the fall of the regime, then good, as far as I’m concerned. But that is a far call from saying that any and every uprising against tyrants is something we should get involved in. Civil wars are awful business. Making them worse is not a liberal thing to do unless you are very clear about the chances for victory, the nature of the opposition, the depth of it’s support, and the brittleness of the regime’s domestic and international support.

    Everything I’ve seen, (and I read mostly from places like Foreign Policy, hardly hotbeds of handwringing leftist anti americanism) indicates that it really is a lot more complicated than supporters of intervention make out. The results in Libya should at least give some pause. Our responsibility 2 protect seems to have stopped somehow, though I’ve not had it explained to me why.

    Afghanistan and Iraq also give us lessons about self determination, if we care to look.

    One lesson is that when countries, any countries, jump in to0 deliver self determination to struggl;ing people, they seem to have a feeling that they should get a say in what the determination looks like. That’s only natural, and also, in many respects fair.

    You say that I need to front to the fact that I’m just letting people die. fairly haevy shit, but fair enough if you accept certain presuppositions.

    You need to explain though why you are so certain that intervention does not have a high chance of making things worse, if only because that’s the argument that actually out there. The argument is that a high chance of many casualties and a slim chance of victory, is better than a high chance of many many more casualties, a broadened conflict, cross border refugees and paramilitary action with only an arguably better chance of victory.

    You might dispute that ‘arguably’, but would you support NZ troops on the ground fighting hizbollah cells in two years time? If not then define victory, and define at which points you’d cut and run.

    Sorry about the rantish nature, but throw stones, get blowback ;)

  8. MValley 8

    yeah. I know there’s a realist argument against intervention in Syria. Realism is inherently about self-interest and there’s more self-interest for the West’s elites in letting the people of Syria be murdered than answering their cries for help.

    It’s some on the Left’s position I have more trouble with. Like I say, only a neo-con thinks you go around ‘saving’ every country from dictatorship and we’ve seen the results when they try. But that’s a very different situation from when a people are trying to overthrow their tyrant but are getting slaughtered (willing slaughtered, which tells you something about their determination) because only one side has the heavy weapons.

    I don’t know why some in the Left (and you can see the comments in the Syria post) are willing to turn a blind eye to people fighting for the rights we have who are just asking for a bit of help. We would expect the same.

    • Pascal's bookie 8.1

      Realism is inherently about self-interest and there’s more self-interest for the West’s elites in letting the people of Syria be murdered than answering their cries for help.

      Well, it’s about self interest insofar that a realist approach says that nations will tend to act towards their self percieved best interests. It’s an decsriptive idea, not a normative statement about what nations ought to do.

      Frinstance, if the west believed that the opposition in Syria were democratically minded types likely to move Syria away from it’s confrontational stance towards the west say, or likely to be less problematic in Lebanon, or likely to otherwise being democracy sexy freedom to the area, and likely to win if we just gave them a little help; then it would be ‘realistic’ to predict that they would indeed help them.

      If your analysis of what is happenning in Syria is correct, then it would be in the wests interests to help the opposition out.

      And just to be a tad snide, you can’t really talk about murder when you are also talking about the brave revolutionary. Declare war; get warred on. You don’t get to cry murder at the same time you are challenging the state’s monopoly on the use of force.

      • MValley 8.1.1

        assad was a murderer long before this. that’s why there’s an uprising. people don’t mind benevolent dictatorships, and they certainly don’t have to die fighting to overthrow them.

        The point is the realist analysis for intervention doesn’t stack up because of the regional and military complications. Democracy for Syrians, and their lives, just don’t factor high enough in the ‘West’s’ calculations.

        • Colonial Viper 8.1.1.1

          Using phrases like “freedom fighters” smacks of propaganda scripting.

          Avoiding discussions on the geopolitical self-interest of NATO and the US in the region (and hence their motivation to get involved now when Assad has been a killer for many years already – you said so yourself) while focussing purely in-country on Syria removes context. Also smacks of propaganda scripting.

          Would you call on NATO and the US to threaten Israel if Israel was bombing and shelling civilian houses in Palestine? Israel has done that before and I didn’t hear nary a peep from the US President or the UK PM. Because it wasn’t in the geopolitical interests of NATO and the US to get involved, of course.

          Basically Syria would be better off with true democratic rule for the people and by the people, and Assad gone, out of the picture. But your narrative scripting is rubbish.

          • rosy 8.1.1.1.1

            Avoiding discussions on the geopolitical self-interest of NATO and the US in the region …and hence their motivation to get involved

            From where I am, in Europe, there doesn’t seem to be an official appetite for involvement in Syria. There is no high value reason – no grudge against the leader, like Gaddafi, for example. But there are high value losses – like annoying the Russians (who do have naval base in Tartus). I just can’t see a NATO intervention happening. I think they’ll be leaving this to the regional powers. While hoping that Russia and China take on some of the diplomatic talks.

  9. Quay 9

    “There’s no strategic gain from the Right’s perspective and many on the Left would rather see a massacre than US military action.” ?

    There’s a massive gain for the right, bombing Iran’s only real ally would be hugely advantageous in the current climate, hence the rhetoric coming from Iraq war architects. That the left would rather see a massacre is an absurd comment, unless you’re referring to conspiracy-driven leftists.

  10. Rich 10

    I suspect that one issue behind this is that one thing Israel is really scared of is the outbreak of legitimate Arab governments. Despots like Assad can be dealt with secretly, maintain their countries in relative poverty, don’t have international support and have a military focused on internal repression.

    If Assad were deposed and replaced by a democratic government which ran a sound economy, had popular and international support and a military that could fight if called on, that would be bad news for Israel.

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     Image Credit: Learn Blog Tips There are now over 300 blogs on the list, although I am weeding out those which are no longer active or have removed public access to sitemeters. (Let me know if I weed out yours by mistake,...
    Open Parachute | 01-08
  • Sign up to increase cycling funding
    In June the Draft Government Policy Statement (GPS) on transport was released by the Ministry of Transport. The GPS outlines where transport funding will go over the next 3 years. Sadly it considered the business as usual of focussing on...
    Transport Blog | 01-08
  • Arrest of forest rights activists symbolic of what’s wrong in India
    It was just past midnight when Indian police hauled two Greenpeace India activists out of their sleep and arrested them this week as a crackdown on protests against a planned coal mine in the Mahan forest intensified.The arrests are the...
    Greenpeace NZ blog | 01-08
  • Breach of contract
    When National set up charter schools, they promised that they would be more accountable, and that contracts were a better means of enforcing standards than the usual school system.Only if they're enforced:“The Whangaruru contract online shows that the school must...
    No Right Turn | 01-08
  • Tamati’s Big Red Fundraiser
    Wow. I’d never organised a fundraiser before. Some people have got that organising gene and some people don’t. I don’t really, but I’m a hard worker and I love a good challenge. Picture this. Saturday night, venue all set, drinks...
    Labour campaign | 01-08
  • Labour Posters are going up!
    We've got massive posters up all around the country. They're about Labour's plan for a positive future for New Zealand that puts people first. The posters in the photos here are in Auckland, but there's lots more going up around...
    Labour campaign | 01-08
  • Spying on their masters
    After being caught red-handed the CIA has finally admitted spying on the US Senate Committee which is investigating them for torture:The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, issued an extraordinary apology to leaders of the US Senate intelligence...
    No Right Turn | 01-08
  • Lifestyles of the rich & famous – hangin’ with Groser, McCu...
    The quarterly release of the ministerial and MP expense returns paints an interesting picture of some of our MPs. Most of our ministers, it must be said, seem to have heeded the harsh lesson of Shane Jones. The bright, shining...
    Occasionally erudite | 01-08
  • Hard News: Friday Music: Curatin’ for Your Love
    I'm pleased and intrigued that Lorde has been commissioned to curate the soundtrack for the next Hunger Games movie -- and I'd like to claim credit. Well, I can't really, but it was obvious to me after Ella picked Lorde's...
    Public Address | 01-08
  • Roads of Significance to National
    The Minister of Transport released a statement on Wednesday which boasted that traffic volumes were up, and that this was a sure sign of economic recovery: “Total travel [measured in kilometres travelled] was flat between 2005 and 2012, but growth returned in...
    Rebuilding Christchurch | 01-08
  • The problem with reporters…
    The problem with reporters, as Usain Bolt has discovered, is that they tend to record things when they want a quote. So when Mr Bolt, sprinter extraordinaire, was quoted as saying the Glasgow Commonwealth Games were “a bit shit”, and...
    Occasionally erudite | 01-08
  • World News Brief, Friday August 1
    Top of the AgendaIsrael Vows to Destroy Gaza Tunnels...
    Pundit | 01-08
  • Helen Kelly Speaks at Otago Uni AGM
    Helen Kelly NZCTU President TEU Annual General Meeting 1pm, Wednesday 13 August Moot Court, Otago University...
    Tertiary Education Union | 31-07
  • New Fisk
    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts...
    No Right Turn | 31-07
  • The judiciary doesn’t take electoral crime seriously either
    That's the only conclusion which can be drawn from John Banks' laughable sentence for filing a false electoral return. A hundred hours of community service and an evening curfew for deliberately attempting to undermine our democracy? Well, that will encourager...
    No Right Turn | 31-07
  • Feed: Food Show 2014: Not Bad
    There are a number of things you can count on at The Food Show in Auckland. Among them: the stall immediately to the left of the entry to the hall is always a busy one. It's most people's first stop,...
    Public Address | 31-07
  • And justice has been seen to be done
    So the first line of John Banks' future obituary has now been written: "John Banks, former mayor of Auckland and a long serving MP and Minister for the National and Act Parties who was convicted of falsely reporting contributions to...
    Pundit | 31-07
  • People talking’ #17
    It being the weekend that truffle growers from all over New Zealand meet to discuss their trade and to eat the fruits of their endeavours, I will be absent from the Hot Topic helm for the next few days. Please...
    Hot Topic | 31-07
  • Gordon Campbell on the rise of ISIS, and Labour
    While global attention got distracted by the fate of MH17 and the atrocities in Gaza, the world’s other mega ‘bad news’ story – the rise of ISIS-led fundamentalism in Iraq – has reached a tipping point. Reportedly, the ISIS fighters...
    Gordon Campbell | 31-07
  • Wet bus ticket
    So John Archibald Banks has been convicted and sentenced for electoral fraud. Good. But the sentence is a complete joke. Here's what he got: 100 hours of community service. That's about 12 days of community work. A bit light, but...
    Polity | 31-07
  • Banks follows fathers footsteps
    For over three years after it became common knowledge that John Banks had intentionally filed a false electoral return, the National led government has relied on the disgraced MP's support to pass numerous controversial policies.Unfortunately National was allowed to continue...
    The Jackal | 31-07
  • Ministerial eating competition
    What if National wins a third term? The prospect, while unlikely, is worth considering. I think one thing we could do to lighten the mood if National wins is to run an eating competition between McCully and Groser. Whoever orders...
    Polity | 31-07
  • Surviving the restructure – Exiting with the pay out
    So casting your mind back… you’ve discovered that the company needs to shed some people. […] The post Surviving the restructure – Exiting with the pay out appeared first on Connected....
    Potentia | 31-07
  • Closed Processes Don’t Make For Open Government
    New Zealand has long enjoyed an enviable reputation as an international citizen. We are regularly rated as one of the most effective democracies in the world, and we recently topped a survey as the world’s most socially advanced country. No...
    Bryan Gould | 31-07
  • EBS Newsletter Winter 2014
    Welcome to our Winter newsletter, we hope that you are well and managing to dodge the bugs in the classroom! Have a read through your newsletter below to make sure you know what you can access through your union and...
    Tertiary Education Union | 31-07
  • Stern Criticism of Westpac – From A Surprising Quarter
    A recently published article contains a stern critique of Westpac over their continuing financial support of coal miners Bathurst Resources, who have now begun removing “overburden” (i.e. the ecosystem) from the Denniston Plateau in preparation for larger-scale coal mining when...
    Coal Action | 31-07
  • AT drops Newton Station for cheaper CRL
    Auckland Transport have announced they are cutting the Newton Station from the City Rail link in favour of an upgraded station at Mt Eden. A significant design change to the City Rail Link (CRL), will save over $150 million, improve...
    Transport Blog | 31-07
  • Sen Whitehouse Schools Sen Inhofe about Global Warming on the Senate Floor
    Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) throws down an epic schooling of Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) on global warming after Inhofe blocked a resolution from Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) simply acknowledging that global warming exists and poses a threat to the interests...
    Skeptical Science | 31-07
  • Have they got to 2000 yet?
    The last time Israel invaded Gaza (it isn't a "war" in any traditional sense - it is a ghetto liquidation with consequent resistance) was between the American presidencies of Bush and Obama.  The Israelis wiped out over a thousand Palestinians...
    Tumeke | 31-07