Sunday, November 18, 2012

Are Syrian babies not as cute as British babies?

Cecil Beaton's Blitz baby
See IWM London for Cecil Beaton Exhibition

In September 1940 the above photograph by fashion photographer Cecil Beaton graced the cover of Life magazine.  Americans saw the above photograph and listened to Edward R. Murrow's reports of the bombing of London on their radios.  Murrow would later risk his life accompanying 24 allied bombing missions over Germany.  The American people were horrified by the spectacle of a brutal dictator mercilessly attacking a civilian population.  Though the isolationist "America First" movement was strongly opposed to taking sides in the European conflagration, FDR did not remain strictly neutral in the conflict between Hitler's Germany and Churchill's Britain.  He could not declare war on Germany, but he did mobilize Congress to assist in passing Lend Lease that started supplying Britain with much-needed arms.  He also traded destroyers for British bases in the Caribbean which helped the Royal navy in their duel in the North Atlantic with Nazi U-boats.

Murrow Blitz Broadcast 



Today a brutal dictator, Bashar al Assad in Syria, has been attacking his own population since at least March of 2011 (see earlier posts Syria Burning, 10/12/12 and A More Dangerous World, 11/8/12).  Over 20,000 people have been killed.  Thousands of refugees have fled into Turkey and Jordan.  Syrian mortar attacks have killed civilians in our NATO ally Turkey.

Francois Hollande
France shows moral leadership on Syria
Recently British Prime Minister Cameron has called on Assad to step aside offering asylum and safe passage (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/middle-east-live/2012/nov/06/syria-aleppo-tank-battles-live).  Just this past week French President Hollande openly recognized the Syrian National Coalition as the legitimate representative of the of Syrian people (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/world/middleeast/syria-war-developments.html?pagewanted=all).

During the American election neither Presidential candidate showed any fortitude in calling for principled action in Syria;  both candidates knew how such words would poll test with a war weary nation. The conflict in Afghanistan is a bleeding ulcer that costs us lives and billions of dollars.  The memory of the Iraq war is still vivid in the minds of most Americans.  Consequently the American administration has done virtually nothing to call for change in Syria.  The Obama administration's "light touch" approach has doomed thousands of Syrian civilians.  Russian-made Migs are attacking Rebel targets killing and wounding civilians including children.

Now, however, the election is over and some politicians on both sides of the aisle are finally calling for action.  Consider this from the NY Times this weekend: “It’s not a fair fight,” Senator Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat, said on Saturday at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia. “The election is over, and while I’m not endorsing a no-fly zone today, we can’t stand idly by” and risk having the rest of the region inflamed.

Senator John McCain of Arizona, who ran against Mr. Obama in 2008 and has been among the most vocal advocates of greater intervention, argues that “every bad thing that we predicted would happen if we intervened — instability in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey — is already happening anyway.”

Here is the full article...http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/18/world/middle-east-challenges-obamas-light-footprint.html?hp.

FDR's example in 1940 demonstrates that there is much that the United States can do to affect a positive outcome in the world short of a declaration of war.  There are multiple options, short of war, that are available to the United States...1) active consultation with our regional allies, 2) naval blockade of Syrian ports and 3) imposition of a no fly zone 4) recognition of the Syrian National Coalition, 5) supplying the rebels with anti-aircraft missiles.

Why does the Obama administration sit back and do nothing to oppose Syria's Assad -- Iran's best ally in the middle east?  What message does this send to the Mullahs in Iran?

Syrian Child Victim of Assad
She won't appear on Life magazine
Concluding Questions from Commander Kelly

Are Syrian babies of today not as cute as British babies of 1940?  I don't believe it.

Does Syria just lack photographers as talented as Cecil Beaton undoubtedly was? (See my earlier post Imperial War Museum, London 11/15/12 and the current photography exhibition at the IWM in London http://www.iwm.org.uk/.)

Or is President Obama just incapable of leading?


Not Edward R. Murrow but...


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Of course they are as cute, and so are Gaza’s babies. The irony of course, is that we (the US, I mean) are helpless to stop the slaughter in Syria. We could easily stop the slaughter in Gaza but we don’t even try. The bigotry is palpable to anyone who wants to look honestly.

Christopher Kelly said...

You widen the discussion meaningfully here, Anonymous. Gaza's babies and Israel's babies are also cute.

The USA is not impotent, but we do not try to act because of a lack of political will in the USA (on Gaza or Syria). Our principles (freedom, self-determination and the absence of bigotry -- which are, after all, non-partisan) must sometimes be backed up with force or the threat of force.

An absolutely heart-breaking situation in the Middle East.