In Syria, two wrongs don’t make a right

The fundamental fallacy which is committed by almost everyone is this: “A and B hate each other, therefore one is good and the other is bad.”    ==Bertrand Russell, 1956

Hospital emergency room staff in Douma, Syria, in August

Hospital emergency room staff in Douma, Syria, in August

I’ve written a good many posts on why I think it is a mistake for the U.S. government to arm terrorist rebels in Syria.  That doesn’t mean I should forget or ignore the crimes of Syria’s ruler, Bashar al-Assad.

Here is an account by Majed Aboali, a volunteer Syrian doctor, about the Syrian government’s systematic bombing of civilian populations, including hospitals.

Government airstrikes—barrel bombs, missiles, and vacuum explosives—are responsible for some 90 percent of the people killed over the summer.  On top of that comes the collective terror of the chemical attacks—chlorine barrels in 2015 and 2014, sarin in 2013.

What did the world do to stop the killing? It sent jets to bomb the Islamic State (ISIS or IS) but did nothing to stop the far greater killing of civilians by the Syrian government’s airstrikes. 

For my Syrian colleagues, IS pales as a problem next to Assad’s attacks on civilians. If the world would stop these attacks on civilians, we Syrians could stop the estimated 10 percent of the killings committed by IS.

The hospital in Douma has been targeted many times.  Somehow, they have avoided a direct hit.  But we do not know if they will survive the next attempt.  Which is why the world must act to stop the killing.

Just a few days ago, the regime targeted a hospital in Kafrbatna, in rural Damascus.  We lost three heroes among the medical staff, and the hospital went out of service.

The airstrikes extend well beyond besieged areas such as Ghouta.  The government has also targeted hospitals in other opposition-held territory.  [snip]

For example, in Idlib, in northern Syria, a hospital had been targeted so many times that the staff decided to change its location.  They found a good building in a new location, but there was a problem: a military group was located in the same neighborhood.

Usually doctors avoid working too near a military group for fear that it would be targeted.  But in this case, the reverse happened.  The leader of the military group came to the director of the hospital and told him that the hospital would attract more airstrikes to the area, and he worried that his soldiers would suffer the consequences.

Source: FPIF

As my mother was fond of saying, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”  The murderous religious fanaticism of ISIS and the other terrorist rebels in Iraq does not mitigate the murderousness of Bashar al-Assad’s forces.   I wish I saw a “third way” that would make everything all right, but I don’t.


Syrian Lives Matter, Don’t They? by Majed Aboali for Foreign Policy in Focus.

Russia’s Entry Into Syria Worsens Killings of Medical Workers on War’s Front Lines, an interview of Widney Brown of Physicians for Human Rights, and Majed Aboali, Syrian health worker, on Democracy Now.

Democracy Now Propaganda for the Left on The Deconstructed Globe.   A skeptical view of Aboali’s charges, with my comment.

Kerry’s Debacle in Vienna by Mike Whitney for Counterpunch.

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