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  #1  
Old 03-27-2016, 07:32 PM
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Default Palmyra Liberated

Assad has retaken Palmyra. The damage was extensive, but there was still at least enough of the archaeological site left intact that it should still be able to become again, if stability is ever restored, an important tourism and archaeological site for Syria.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35909456

Hopefully with Assad's position now strengthened, this recent changing of hands won't be temporary.
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Old 03-27-2016, 08:26 PM
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Probably good news for the people in the city and historical sites. But the cynic in my can't help but notice that it's now being "liberated" by the party that was the bad guys a few years ago, before ISIS was on the scene...
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Old 03-28-2016, 04:12 AM
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Probably good news for the people in the city and historical sites. But the cynic in my can't help but notice that it's now being "liberated" by the party that was the bad guys a few years ago, before ISIS was on the scene...
Ah, but since then, Assad has gotten a lot worse. Which, admittedly, isn't much of an endorsement.
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Old 03-28-2016, 09:11 AM
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Probably good news for the people in the city and historical sites. But the cynic in my can't help but notice that it's now being "liberated" by the party that was the bad guys a few years ago, before ISIS was on the scene...
Saddam doesn't really seem all that bad in retrospect either...weird how things turn out. Both are/were basically just your typical 3rd world dictator rather than insane religious extremists.
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Old 03-28-2016, 10:49 AM
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Ah, but since then, Assad has gotten a lot worse. Which, admittedly, isn't much of an endorsement.
At this point the best that can be hoped for is stability. Life under Assad may be brutal, but he still is a safer choice than ISIS or the Turk-backed FSA - aka the Muslim Brotherhood. This is unfortunately a circumstance where there are no good options.
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Old 03-28-2016, 10:59 AM
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At this point the best that can be hoped for is stability. Life under Assad may be brutal, but he still is a safer choice than ISIS or the Turk-backed FSA - aka the Muslim Brotherhood. This is unfortunately a circumstance where there are no good options.
Does that mean that Europe gets to send back those millions of Syrian refugees, using the "it could be worse" excuse, or do we have to admit that the lack of freedom coupled with persecution of opponents makes the country still somewhat not safe?
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Old 03-28-2016, 11:04 AM
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Does that mean that Europe gets to send back those millions of Syrian refugees, using the "it could be worse" excuse, or do we have to admit that the lack of freedom coupled with persecution of opponents makes the country still somewhat not safe?
Sarcasm aside, Europe is doing that already. They are just offering to send back some in exchange for granting asylum to others. Presumably, however, some of these refugees wish to eventually go home when Syria becomes more stable, and hence safer. Ideally those that wish to stay in Europe, could stay, and those that wish to return will one day have a state that is safe enough to return to. Assad is unfortunately the most likely option to produce that safety and stability.
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Old 03-28-2016, 11:39 AM
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But a lot of those who do want to return do not want to return while Assad is enforcing "stability". So what does the EU do, when it has to admit that Assad is the best option left?
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Old 03-28-2016, 02:33 PM
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But a lot of those who do want to return do not want to return while Assad is enforcing "stability". So what does the EU do, when it has to admit that Assad is the best option left?
Convince itself that not admitting it is an even better option?
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Old 03-29-2016, 04:06 AM
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Convince itself that not admitting it is an even better option?
I think that for the EU, a more realistic option is embracing some kind of convoluted compromise that no one likes and then finding out that because it doesn't work, further emergency measures are needed immediately which can't be properly debated anymore because there isn't time.
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Old 03-29-2016, 06:06 AM
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I think that for the EU, a more realistic option is embracing some kind of convoluted compromise that no one likes and then finding out that because it doesn't work, further emergency measures are needed immediately which can't be properly debated anymore because there isn't time.
Isn't that what I said?
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Old 03-29-2016, 06:39 AM
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You used "convince" when "confuse" would have been a far better description of the process.
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Old 03-29-2016, 07:08 AM
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You used "convince" when "confuse" would have been a far better description of the process.
Ah but it would not have been describing the resulting progress, merely its starting point.
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Old 03-29-2016, 04:19 PM
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Saddam doesn't really seem all that bad in retrospect either...weird how things turn out. Both are/were basically just your typical 3rd world dictator rather than insane religious extremists.
Ask the Iranians or Kuwati's. I bet they'd disagree. He doesn't seem as bad to you, because you were protected from his insanity by daily military intervention which last only slightly less time than the current conflict in Iraq has.

And Saddam had begun adopting fanatical religious imagery and symbolism into his regime well before 9/11 (not that there is a connection, but it's a useful date for when we began to take Islamic extremism seriously).
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Old 03-29-2016, 07:03 PM
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Ask the Iranians or Kuwati's. I bet they'd disagree. He doesn't seem as bad to you, because you were protected from his insanity by daily military intervention which last only slightly less time than the current conflict in Iraq has.

And Saddam had begun adopting fanatical religious imagery and symbolism into his regime well before 9/11 (not that there is a connection, but it's a useful date for when we began to take Islamic extremism seriously).
Iran certainly prefers a friendly Shia govt to their old enemy (and our old friend) Saddam, but even for the Shia populace life under Saddam was far safer than the civil war that is ripping the country apart right now. And life under Saddam was far safer for the Yazidis and Christians. Saddam was the thread that held that tapestry together. Without him it has unravelled into chaos. It is a lesson that should be considered when considering the potential (and already ongoing) consequences of the attempt to remove Syria's despot.

We have, however, had this discussion many many times...
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Old 03-30-2016, 04:13 AM
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Iran certainly prefers a friendly Shia govt to their old enemy (and our old friend) Saddam, but even for the Shia populace life under Saddam was far safer than the civil war that is ripping the country apart right now. And life under Saddam was far safer for the Yazidis and Christians. Saddam was the thread that held that tapestry together. Without him it has unravelled into chaos. It is a lesson that should be considered when considering the potential (and already ongoing) consequences of the attempt to remove Syria's despot.

We have, however, had this discussion many many times...
Mind you, I still think that it was not inevitable that things would dissolve into the kind of chaos there is today. Or at least, it could have been avoided if the US government had wanted to do so; but they chose to not bother with keeping any kind of order (thus effectively promoting chaos) after they had ousted Saddam.

What should have been done was maintain or restore the rule of law as quickly as possible, and then start replacing some of the laws to permit more freedom, thus giving the Iraqi the benefits of their 'liberation'. Instead, it was decided to leave rule to "the market" and the result was that criminal gangs ran rampant and only religious or clan affiliations provided any protection for anyone. So, predictably, the country fractured into a lot of armed and mutually hostile groups, which have been fighting ever since. The current situation is what Bush wanted to achieve, and he got what he decided to aim for.

With Syria, now, I strongly doubt it would be possible to achieve some kind of positive outcome from an invasion. There is too much justified doubt in the local population to make them trust our intentions, and there isn't any more willingness to in our own countries to commit to the enormous expenditure of posting a large scale occupation force and paying for it than there was in the Iraq case.
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Old 03-30-2016, 07:52 AM
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Ask the Iranians or Kuwati's. I bet they'd disagree. He doesn't seem as bad to you, because you were protected from his insanity by daily military intervention which last only slightly less time than the current conflict in Iraq has.

And Saddam had begun adopting fanatical religious imagery and symbolism into his regime well before 9/11 (not that there is a connection, but it's a useful date for when we began to take Islamic extremism seriously).
Well with Iran, that was 100% with US goading/support so its hard to fully blame him for that. We basically begged him to attack.

With Kuwait, not so much. But still, there is a huge difference in atrocity level between your typical 3rd world secular dictator like Saddam, Assad, Pinochet, Batista, etc and the level/intensity and wholesale destruction taking place in Iraq/Syria now under ISIS. In those areas, if left unchecked, we'd have another Rwanda or Khmer Rouge...those two examples showing that fanatical insanity and extreme violence don't just stem from religious belief like it has with ISIS.

But the overall point being that there are scales to this and some are worse than others.
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Old 03-30-2016, 09:34 AM
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Well with Iran, that was 100% with US goading/support so its hard to fully blame him for that. We basically begged him to attack.

With Kuwait, not so much. But still, there is a huge difference in atrocity level between your typical 3rd world secular dictator like Saddam, Assad, Pinochet, Batista, etc and the level/intensity and wholesale destruction taking place in Iraq/Syria now under ISIS. In those areas, if left unchecked, we'd have another Rwanda or Khmer Rouge...those two examples showing that fanatical insanity and extreme violence don't just stem from religious belief like it has with ISIS.

But the overall point being that there are scales to this and some are worse than others.
But you've got to admit that if Saddam had succeeded in his dastardly plans, we'd all be eating kebab! I happen to be eating kebab now anyway, but that's just a coincidence.
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Old 03-30-2016, 06:47 PM
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Well with Iran, that was 100% with US goading/support so its hard to fully blame him for that. We basically begged him to attack.
Whether or not this is true or hyperbole is immaterial. Many senior members of the Iraqi Ba'ath Party have told American/British forces post-2003 that Saddam was merely waiting for the UN to let down their guard and remove the military impediments to his aggression before he attacked again. He was also planning on restarting his nuclear program, explicitly with the intent of aiming them at Iran (if not using them).

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With Kuwait, not so much. But still, there is a huge difference in atrocity level between your typical 3rd world secular dictator like Saddam, Assad, Pinochet, Batista, etc and the level/intensity and wholesale destruction taking place in Iraq/Syria now under ISIS. In those areas, if left unchecked, we'd have another Rwanda or Khmer Rouge...those two examples showing that fanatical insanity and extreme violence don't just stem from religious belief like it has with ISIS.
I disagree. While fixing exact figures is obviously quite difficult, I doubt you can find a single expert who thinks more death has resulted from the post-2003 chaos than was caused by Saddam. For children alone, the estimate of excess deaths caused by Saddam are (at the extreme low end) 170,000, and almost certainly closer to half a million, and that is being conservative. Infant mortality more than doubled in areas controlled by Saddam, while it dropped in the Kurdish autonomous region.

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But the overall point being that there are scales to this and some are worse than others.
I agree entirely. There is almost no system by which Saddam was not far worse than even the current chaos. Its the uncertainty of maybe experience the chaos firsthand versus the certainty of experience starvation, death, and oppression.

One can argue that the sanctions which caused all this excess death are the fault of the UN, but the alternative was aggressive war in all directions and a genocidal campaign of extirpation against the Kurds. Amazingly, killing hundreds of thousands of children and certainly hundreds of thousands more adults was the less bad option.
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Old 03-30-2016, 07:29 PM
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Our invasion to depose him is estimated to have caused anywhere from 200,000 to potentially 1,000,000 excess deaths. What does that make our government then? How much blood is on Bush or Rumsfeld's hands? Even our own estimates that were leaked show 66,000 direct civilian deaths from our military campaign...and that ignores all the other increased factors we caused with our idiotic half-assed intervention.
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