Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Events in world 

I haven't been paying much attention to the "news," but I was recently forcefully reminded that cataclysmic events are continuing to happen in the world, even if they are almost comically ignored by purveyors of "news" in the USA.

"News"-purveyors have recently been referring to a supposed decrease in civilian casualty figures in Iraq. Of course there is every reason to doubt these figures; but even if they were true--and perhaps they eventually will be true, for a short time--they would have to be considered in relation to the now obviously cataclysmic refugee crisis in Syria and Jordan. A society can't have several million people sitting around without homes or work. This leads inevitably to war, chaos, revolution, and death--as in Lebanon during the 60-year aftermath of the last refugee disaster. The whole region is well on its way to being a big Lebanon--which is precisely and explicitly what American foreign-"policy" makers want. ("Birth-pangs," "People are free to do bad things," etc.)

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, recently toured Syria and gave an interview to the BBC. (Of course there are many better sources on all of this, but this is what I happened to read.) Below are excerpts:

...We’re talking about something like a million and a half Iraqi refugees in the region and a very large number of them in Syria. We had the opportunity of meeting nearly 300 Iraqi refugees not far from Damascus about a week ago, in a facility that’s run by the Syrian Orthodox church there... And the stories we heard were, I have to say, really hair-raising. These are undoubtedly stories of targeted ethnic cleansing by certain groups within Iraq...

Now, these refugees in Syria have a great deal of help from the Syrian government and Syrian society, for example the children can have free education. But for those in higher education, for those who’ve lost businesses, have lost livelihood, getting work is extremely hard... The Syrian government is under huge pressure because of this, and they’re going to have to tighten up their controls very soon. And there are already new regulations coming in – and that of course is even more frightening for these people.

Q: You said at the beginning of your answer to that question that you feared the consequences of the Iraq war before it began; do you think the same could be said of our political leaders? Do you think that they understood the what the potential consequences of this war and particularly in terms of the Iraqi Christians and the others who are currently suffering in that region before they went to war?

A: I don’t know what sort of calculations were made. I do think that two things are clear: that the effect on Christian communities in the region was gravely under estimated, and that the scale of the refugee problem was gravely underestimated. Now what we have at the moment is a refugee problem in the Middle East of almost unprecedented scale. We’ve already got the Palestinian refugee problem and I also visited some Palestinian refugees on the outskirts of Beirut; we now have on top of that another million and a half – and growing – number of Iraqi refugees and this is where, when people talk about further destablilising the region, when you read about some American political advisers speaking about action against Syria and Iran, I can only say that I regard that as criminal, ignorant and potentially murderous folly.

Q: Ok. I don’t know whether you have the ear of David Milliband or Gordon Brown, but let’s suppose that you do; what will you tell them, or what would you tell them about this situation given the opportunity.

A: I’d want to talk about the human cost of what’s been done in the last few years. Not that I imagine they’re unaware of it, but it brings it a little closer when you’ve actually heard people at first hand telling these stories. I’d want to say very urgently to them and the United States of America that further deliberate destabilisation in this region is terrible folly, terrible folly and I’d want to ask what can be done now in strengthening the hand of various relief agencies, in making sure that these people are looked after, and that their future is taken seriously in any future planning for civil society in the region.

Q: What so you mean by ‘deliberate destablilisation’?

A: I mean that we do hear in some quarters about action against Syria or against Iran; I can’t really understand what planet such persons are living on when you see the conditions that are already there. The region is still a tinderbox. We’ve seen recently how the Lebanese situation has escalated in the last twelve months; how instability fear and deep anxiety about communal relations and intra-Muslim relations there, how that’s come to shadow the whole sky in Lebanon. And people I spoke to in Syria say that Lebanon is a small country, but a small switch can trigger a large explosion. If Lebanon dissolves then other countries suffer the consequences. If the larger nations like Syria and Iran are further destabilised, we’ll see a multiplication of these tragedies, an almost unimaginable multiplication, we’ll see more millions displaced...

Q: Do you think there will ever be a time in the future when we look back at the invasion of Iraq and say yes actually that was for the best?

A: No.

Williams would not refer to the Iran situation if he were not very afraid of imminent mega-disaster. He measures his pronouncements carefully and has a very conflicted constituency to answer to. This interview means that he has high-level sources in the British government who are telling him what is coming; so this interview confirms the recent Hersh stories. The Iran war is going to happen, and it is going to happen because both Democrats and Republicans want it to happen. In February 2007, Bush said to Robert Draper (author of "Dead Certain"), "I'm an October-November man." He was getting off on coyly hinting at his big new "decision" and when "we" in the "citizenry" would get to watch it happen. He also said: "The danger is that the United States won't stay engaged." And he added, "The problem is that in an ideological war, stability isn't the answer to the root cause of why people kill and terrorize." The good of "instability" is neo-con doctrine. Note that Williams heard the same thing; thus his fear of so-called "deliberate destabilisation." Bush also proudly told Draper: "I'm not afraid to make decisions."


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