PARALLEL UNIVERSE: There Are No ‘Good Guys’ in Syrian Civil War

  • By David M. Kinchen 
The New York Times story and front page picture of Syrian “rebels” murdering captured troops (Story by C.J. Chivers http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/05/world/middleeast/brutality-of-syrian-rebels-pose-dilemma-in-west.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130905) reminded me of David Lean’s magnificent film “Lawrence of Arabia.”   I came across this 2003 piece in a search of a description of the murder of captured and fleeing Turks by British Army officer T.E. Lawrence and his Arab friends during World War I — one of the more moving episodes in this movie. http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/mydocs/culture/lawrence.htm

Killing POWs  is a violation of the Geneva Conventions, of course, but it is one of the dirty no-so-secret habits of civil wars and conventional conflicts. Americans murdered Japanese and German POWs in World War II, as did the Japanese and Germans with American POWs. Civil War Union Gen. William T. Sherman said it for all time: “War is Hell.”

Actions like this influenced George Orwell (real name: Eric Blair, 1903-1950) during his participation in and coverage of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) on the side of the Republican forces opposing the Nationalists under Gen. Francisco Franco.   Orwell wrote about his awakening to the brutality of his side, mostly from the Communists from Russia and elsewhere, in “Homage to Catalonia.” What he witnessed also informed his masterpiece “1984”.

Arthur Koestler (1905-1983), a Hungarian-born, naturalized British contemporary of Orwell,  used his experiences in the same war to write his 1940 novel “Darkness at Noon” about Soviet evil.   Chivers writes:    “This scene, documented in a video smuggled out of Syria a few days ago by a former rebel who grew disgusted by the killings, offers a dark insight into how many rebels have adopted some of the same brutal and ruthless tactics as the regime they are trying to overthrow.

“As the United States debates whether to support the Obama administration’s proposal that Syrian forces should be attacked for using chemical weapons against civilians, this video, shot in April, joins a growing body of evidence of an increasingly criminal environment populated by gangs of highwaymen, kidnappers and killers.

“The video also offers a reminder of the foreign policy puzzle the United States faces in finding rebel allies as some members of Congress, including Senator John McCain, press for more robust military support for the opposition.”

For these reasons — and for many others — I’m against President Barack Obama’s wish to send missiles into Damascus. I was opposed to the 2003 invasion of Iraq under President George W. Bush, so this isn’t a partisan position on my side: I’m politically independent.  If the “rebels” win in Syria, everything will be much worse for everybody in the Middle East. The so-called “Arab Spring” is a myth, a big lie.  We should stop our futile efforts at nation building and concentrate on the problems we need to fix in the U.S.

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