Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Six of the Many, Many Ways That Bombing Syria is a Horrible Idea

1. What the Rebels Will Do If They Win

"Most militias are drawn from the poorer, rural districts of Syria. Most wealth is concentrated in the city centers that remain integral (such as Damascus, Lattakia, Tartus, Baniyas, Hama, etc.), which have survived largely unscathed in this conflict... If the militias take these cities, there will be widespread looting and lawlessness which will threaten many more civilians who have managed to escape the worst until now. It would be preferable to avoid a Somalia-like scenario in the remaining cities and provinces.  The potential for ethnic cleansing and revenge killings is high."

- Professor Joshua Landis, University of Oklahoma

2. What the Rebels WON'T Do If They Win

"The opposition is incapable of providing government services.  Millions of Syrians still depend on the government for their livelihoods, basic services, and infrastructure. Destroying these state services with no capacity to replace them would plunge ever larger numbers of Syrians into even darker circumstances and increase the outflow of refugees beyond its already high level. Syria can get worse."

- Professor Joshua Landis, University of Oklahoma

3. What the Regime Will Do If We Bomb

"Military interventions in favor of the rebel faction (as opposed to pro-government or neutral interventions) tend to increase government killings of civilians by about 40%."

- Erica Chenoweth, citing a 2012 study of military interventions from 1989 to 2005 by Reed Wood, Jason Kathman, and Stephen Gent.  Hat/tip Matt Yglesias.

4. Cost/Benefit Analysis

"Should the United States government drop a bunch of high-powered explosives in order to kill and maim a bunch of Syrian individuals while destroying some of Syria's physical infrastructure in order to help other Syrian individuals? ...If the United States was able to spend the $1.1 billion we spent on the Libya operation on long-lasting insecticide treated bed nets we could have saved almost 590,000 lives from almost certain destruction. ...That's something to think about."

- Matt Yglesias, Slate

5.  And Generally Speaking...

"Civil wars with outside involvement typically last longer, cause more fatalities, and are more difficult to resolve through negotiation."

- Cambridge Journal of International Organization, October 2011 (cited here)

6. This Was True Even Before We Got All Snippy With Egypt for Overthrowing an Islamist Government:

"For the first time, all of America’s ‘friends’ in the region are Sunni Muslims and all of its enemies are Shiites [or secularists]. Breaking all President Barack Obama’s rules of disengagement, the US is now fully engaged on the side of armed groups which include the most extreme Sunni Islamist movements in the Middle East."

- Robert Fisk, The Independent

In Short:

There's still time.  Make your voice heard!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Pharaoh's Protection

I speak only for myself in this post.

Oh my.  It has been a terrible week in the Middle East, beloved.  Egypt's worst political violence since people started using the term "political violence." The worst anti-Christian pogroms in Egypt in over a century.  The deadliest single day in Syria's civil war so far, in the form of a chemical weapons attack that killed hundreds - the worst chemical attack since Saddam Hussein's genocide against the Kurds in the 1980s.  A suicide bombing at a Sunni mosque in Lebanon that killed 27. 

There's so much to say, and so many people talking, to so little avail, that I'll let most of it pass, except for this comment: The U.S. is going to start bombing Syria in the next few weeks.  Expect it.

The likely result will be the victory of the rebel forces, the end of Christianity, Alawite Islam and the Druze religion in Syria, and all-out civil war in Lebanon and Jordan, as both of these tiny states buckle under a refugee influx in the millions.

All that will have to wait.  What I want to focus on in this post is Egypt.

Almost two years ago, I joined hundreds of Egyptian Christians in a rally at the White House after the U.S.-funded Egyptian military massacred 24 Christians in Cairo. 

Today, the U.S.-funded Egyptian military is back in power, and, as the New York Times puts it, "
In the more than seven weeks since [President Mohammed] Morsi’s ouster, security forces have carried out at least three mass shootings at pro-Morsi street protests, killed more than a thousand Morsi supporters and arrested at least as many." Mohammed El-Baradei, the civilian vice president who resigned in protest when the massacres began, is now under investigation by the military government for “betraying the public trust.”

The Muslim Brotherhood scapegoated Egypt's Christians for the killings, and unleashed a countrywide wave of violence against them, torching scores of churches, Christian homes and businesses.  During these attacks, Human Rights Watch found, the military's "security forces were largely absent or failed to intervene even when they had been informed of ongoing attacks."

 And Egyptian Christians were out protesting again in Washington DC on Thursday - holding up hagiographic portraits of the new military dictator (Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi), writing his name on their faces, calling him "our hero" and "the eagle of our flag."

"C C"=Sisi.  Get it?

Then, on Friday, a Coptic Christian youth organization I follow on Facebook, the Maspero Youth Union, shared this photo:


Point of interest: the "Maspero Youth Union" is named after Maspero Square, where the Egyptian military murdered 24 Christian protestors less than two years ago.

This group is now asking people to report Facebook friends who use logos showing support for the victims of another military massacre, to military intelligence.

I have Egyptian friends who use those logos on their Facebook profiles.  I disagree heartily with them on politics, but they are not terrorists.

GUYS - aside from the horrifying moral implications, do you really think the Egyptian military, which has proven itself only too willing to shoot Christians dead in the street if it suits their purposes, is on your side?

They are not.  Their main interest in church burnings is using them as political propaganda, not in stopping them.  And if the Brotherhood ever ceases to be a threat, they will be only too happy to use church attacks as a safety valve for Islamist violence, as Mubarak did. (The military just released Mubarak from prison, by the way.  No big deal.)

I am 100% anti-Muslim Brotherhood.  If I lived in Egypt, I would have been out protesting against the Brotherhood regime on June 30.  But removing them from power does not require a return to military dictatorship.  And the point of being a Christian is knowing that we don't have to rely on wicked, violent men for protection.

I know this is easy for me to say.  My life isn't in danger.  And this is a lesson American Christians need to learn, too.  Our political leaders, with the support of most of us - including me - invaded two countries and killed a million people in the last decade to keep us "safe."

Take it from me - it's not worth it.

"Pharaoh's protection will be to your shame." - Isaiah 30:3

 "The LORD will fight for you.  You need only be still." - Exodus 14:14

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

For the Damascus Countryside

I can’t take it anymore.
I can’t read any more reports
Speculating endlessly, “Who?” and “Why?”
I already know the answers I will hear –
Who: The regime, the rebels, the Zionists, the Islamic extremists, the enemies of the Syrian people
Why: Counterinsurgency, fighting terrorism, fighting for freedom, false flag
All lies, meant to disguise the truth
That Who is our Fellow Man
And Why is to appease the God of Death
The God on whom all governments and rebel groups rely
From whom they draw all their power and authority
To whom they pray for deliverance
From the consequences of their crimes
And the God of Death is only too happy to oblige
But the God of Death demands sacrifice
And demands the right to choose the victims
Soldiers, freedom fighters, little girls in pajamas, babies, nursing mothers
Gasping, burning, screaming, shaking, shaking, shaking and then becoming still
And perhaps the supplicants cringe at the demand
But in the end, they make the hard choice, and the tough call
Because that’s what it means to be a leader
To do what it takes to defeat your enemies
But "the last enemy to be defeated is Death."

Monday, August 12, 2013

More Adventures in Muslim Apologetics

Courtesy of one of my Muslim Facebook acquaintances, I present to you a 20-minute-long video “proving” that the Jewish Bible predicts the coming of the prophet Muhammad – “by name!”

Too long, didn’t watch? The entire case is built around Song of Songs 5:16:

“His mouth is sweetness itself;
he is altogether lovely.
“This is my beloved, this is my friend,
daughters of Jerusalem.”

According to the video, the word “lovely” in the original Hebrew is actually “Muhammad.” Therefore, the Bible predicted Muhammad’s coming! Or, at least, the coming of someone who would be “altogether Muhammad.”

(If you’re wondering what the other 18 minutes of the video are, it’s mostly accusations of Christians and Jews hiding the “real” Bible. How clumsy of them to forget to remove clear prediction of Muhammad’s coming.)

In Arabic, the name “Muhammad” simply means “praiseworthy.” Given Hebrew and Arabic’s similar linguistic roots, it’s not surprising that there’s a Hebrew word – “mahammad” – with a similar meaning. (“Lovely, desired, charming.”)

It’s actually interesting that this common adjective doesn’t occur more often in the Jewish Bible.

I now have a mental picture of God looking into the future, and seeing Muslim evangelists scouring the Jewish Bible for any occurrence of the common adjective “praiseworthy,” and deciding that the one – the only – place that word will occur in scripture is in a passionate dialogue about sex between two people anticipating their wedding night.

Your move, apologists.