Saturday, 25 January 2014

No-Fly Zone options: Reasons for favouring a limited strike option

Cross-posted from

Without a clear sense of how long the Syrian war might go on, and without clarity as to how Assad might be defeated or what kind of government might succeed him, there are strong reasons for caution about intervention. With America and Britain still militarily engaged in Afghanistan, and with no way of knowing what other threats might emerge elsewhere in the world before Syria’s war reaches an end, there are strong reasons for their reluctance to commit limited military resources to a no-fly zone.

Still the moral reality remains: a no-fly zone could save many lives. It’s likely over 10,000 of those killed in Syria have been victims of air attacks. So what options are available?

Thursday, 23 January 2014

NFZ reading list

• Syria casualty reports
• What is a No-Fly Zone?
• International law
• Opinion and advocacy
• News reports

Cross posted from
Read more below the fold.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

“They can’t aim very well”

Last June, President Obama argued against a No–Fly Zone in the following terms:
Responding to calls to shut down Syria’s combat aircraft with American air power, Obama said “the fact of the matter is for example, 90 percent of the deaths that have taken place haven’t been because of air strikes by the Syrian air force.”
“Syrian Air Force isn’t particularly good. They can’t aim very well,” he said, adding that most of the action was taking place “on the ground.”
That’s from a June 17th 2013 report by Dan De Luce of AFP, here and here.

That same figure of 90% of opposition casualties not being caused by air strikes was also at the centre of Mark Thompson’s article of the same date for Time. It was attributed to Army General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Violations Documentations Centre in Syria lists 5,160 individuals killed specifically by aircraft up to June 17th 2013, the date of those articles.

Killed by an air force that “isn’t particularly good.”

Today the VDC’s total number of records of men, women, and children, killed by Assad’s air force has reached 7,510 individuals. By the time you click on this link it may be more. This is a minimum count of confirmed killings by aircraft. The actual number of people is likely over 10,000. Of whom at least 2,000 are children.

Killed by an air force that “can’t aim very well.”

Syria still needs a No-Fly Zone.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

‘Happy ever after’ is not a realistic standard for any policy

My recent post, Syria (still) needs a No-Fly Zone, has been republished at Left Foot Forward where it has attracted a few comments, which is gratifying even if they were all in disagreement with the argument. Below is a very slightly edited version of my responses to comments so far.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

In praise of the everyday

Hyldest til Hverdagen is by Danish writer Dan Turèll. A version with music by Halfdan E is included on the album Pas På Pengene.  Here’s my translation:

In Praise of the Everyday (Hyldest til Hverdagen)
by Dan Turèll

I’m fond of the everyday
most of all I’m fond of the everyday
The slow awakening to the familiar view
that all the same is never quite so familiar
the family’s at once both intimate and after sleep’s distance unfamiliar faces

morning kisses
the smack of the post landing in the hall
the smell of coffee
the ritual wandering to the shop around the corner
after milk, cigarettes, newspapers –
I’m fond of the everyday even through all its irritations
the bus that clatters outside in the street
the telephone that incessantly disturbs the loveliest blankest standing-still nothing in my aquarium
the birds that chirp from their cage
the old neighbour who looks in
the kid who has to be fetched from nursery just as one is getting going
the constant shopping list in the jacket pocket
with its steady demand for meat, potatoes, coffee and crackers
the quick little one at the local
when we all meet with the shopping bags and wipe the sweat from our brows -
I’m fond of the everyday
the daily agenda
also the biological
the unavoidable procedures of bath and toilet
the obligatory shaver
the letters that must be written
the rent demand
balancing the chequebook
the washing up
the recognition of having run out of nappies or tape -
I’m fond of the everyday
not in opposition to festivity and colour, high times and hullaballoo
have that as well
with all of its leftover cinders
so much unsaid and approximated
floating and hanging in the air afterwards
like some species of psychic hangover
only everyday’s morning coffee can cure -
fine enough with parties! There’s all the room for euphoria! Let the thousand pearls bubble!
but what happiness it is afterwards to lay yourself down
in rest’s and everyday’s bed
with the familiar
all the same not quite so familiar
same view.

I’m fond of the everyday
I’m wild about it
stop the clock I’m so fond of the everyday
I’m so stinking fond of the everyday . . .

The above is based on the Danish CD booklet. Other published versions are less sparing with the punctuation. This translation first appeared on the blog in April 2009 as part of a longer post.

Homage to the Everyday copyright © The Estate of Dan Turèll.