Blog Archives

Polio and the Syrian Crisis

Polio and the Syrian Crisis

In the past couple months there has been a news spotlight on the Polio outbreak taking place in Syria and Iraq, an outbreak some have dubbed “the most challenging in history,” but why the challenge? It would seem any populace, despite whatever political or idealogical differences may be present, would have the common goal of eliminating catastrophic disease from the pool. Yet as conflict rages, both in Syria and Iraq, Polio continues to creep upon the population. The Syrian government has been accused of refusing aid to civilians in rebel held cities, aid that could make the difference for starving and infected individuals uninvolved with the conflict, yet Assad’s forces wish to use this as a siege tool, effectively crushing the opposition forces by allowing innocents to die with no access to food, medical aid, and sometimes even fresh water. Villages in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan controlled by militant forces also have a difficult time obtaining international aid as well due to the negative stigma that comes with foreign involvement, particularly in Middle Eastern nations with colonization history. So Polio rages, big deal? If this outbreak cannot be dealt with properly, and soon, generations of Iraqis, Syrians, and even more nations, could face a polio bug greater than man has had to battle since the 1900’s. Below I’ve included multiple organizations who are working to stifle this outbreak despite threats from government forces such as Assad’s in Syria, to militant groups such as Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Please take a moment to visit their pages. -Shivite12

Doctors Without Borders

UNHCR

UNICEF

Save The Children

A Green Apple Until they Painted me Red

Image

Yesterday a colleague of mine and I got into a minor spat concerning the blanket surveillance tactics utilized by the National Security Agency. (Previously touched on by UnfoldedOP here) Both parties brought up valid points, yet he had one question that stuck with me, for its one I’ve heard asked often since the exposure of these programs by Edward Snowden: “I’ve got nothing to hide, so why should I be against spying measures that ensure my security?” 
Let’s first tackle that vagueness, what does it mean necessarily that you have nothing to hide? For the purpose of argument we’ll apply the simplest definition: having no plans to break the law or harm the general populace. The error with this mentality is that although we’d like to believe in consistency, people, government, and life as a whole do not tend to take the path of little alteration and least resistance. Most consider themselves law abiding citizens, the definition of which is subject to change each year as laws change. Take, if you will, the Russian American population during the current international struggle we find ourselves. Should the United States want to keep a closer eye on their Russian citizens they need only manipulate the info gathered by the NSA, in this circumstance no longer being used for anti-terrorism, now just the broad term of national security. In the 1940’s Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, and at home we responded by accusing the Japanese American population of espionage as we rounded them all up into camps, because whats a safer place for your citizens than locked up where they cant compromise your other citizens, a distinction that should try to be avoided by the American Government if it truly wants to serve all of us equally. These Japanese Americans simply had to be registered with the government as japanese to be included in this stain on our nations history.Mass surveillance becomes a problem once it has left the realm of security reassurance for the public, and entered the realm of “tool of the state.” As reported by Human Rights Watch, concerning a similar situation taking place in Ethiopia, “authorities use access to mobile data and call recordings to harass and arrest people they believe oppose the government,” and granted at this moment in time America may not be spooked enough to look past the mass persecution of people in the interest of “security,” but September 11th, 2001 we were absolutely spooked enough and all it took was one attack. When the Boston Marathon bombings took place Mosques around the country felt an uneasy atmosphere surrounding their sites, with a suspicious population circling about with various accusations for the Muslim community. And what if the next attacker is of Irish descent? Or an extreme baptist? Our information is only safe in that massive meta-database so long as a member of our community, culture, or social circle is involved in activities disapproved by the government. Instead of waiting to get up in arms about the spying until the government has targeted you only puts the problem on the back burner, acting now allows for immediate remedy before a greater burn is felt.  The government of the United States having this mass surveillance capability is detrimental to our progress as a nation, for controlled growth by a ruling class becomes a stronger reality each day the NSA is allowed its blanket surveillance. Here’s to hoping Obama follows through on an end to these programs, and pushes towards a more positive international tomorrow. Cheers. -Shivite12

HRW article concerning Ethiopian Mass Surveillance, a great read: http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/03/25/witness_price-mass-surveillance

The Cold Shoulder

images

Today a friend and I discussed the humanitarian crisis in Syria. As we delved deeper into the labyrinth of government kidnapping and extremist jihad ideologies, frustration at the desperation of the situation began to reveal itself on his face. He asked me finally, “why is the rest of the world getting involved then? Even its neighbors attack(Israel and as of yesterday Turkey) when the conflict spills in the slightest, why don’t we just let them eliminate each other within their borders secluded from the rest of the world?” I was awestruck at the notion. The answer I gave was pitiful.
“Because that isn’t the right thing to do.” What a joke. Well now I wish to address this question after some time letting it bounce around in my head.

1. Why isn’t that the right thing to do? When a nation experiences prolonged and costly turmoil, the road to recovery tends to be a long one fraught with despair reminiscent of the conflict itself, as was seen with the fallout of the Spanish Civil War. A steady simmer, as evidenced by the current protests taking place in Spain, remains present among the populace and wears on their nerves considerably. Allowing this to happen in Syria, then the next country and the next, only furthers the precedent of insubordination among the cooperating international community.

2. So what? The strongest countries will prosper. A domino effect of countries experiencing civil strife fueled by mercenary forces can spread easily, and despite any interest in war games, civilians are forced to handle the fallout. Why allow Syria to continue to fall deeper into conflict until a nation and a race are practically wiped from the Earth? Further, no country is immune to civil strife and eventual downfall, as even the most powerful nations have internal problems only further stoking the fire.

3. What kind of fallout could be so bad from a civil war that it calls for international intervention? Picture an entire generation of people with missing families, limbs, education, money, homes, trapped in eternal poverty in their war ravaged home, in a prolonged humanitarian crisis that could have been avoided. Then to add to the problem, millions of Syrians will flood the world in a bid to escape a horrific experience on the home front. While I personally couldn’t blame them for wanting to escape such atrocities, its recognized that many countries wouldn’t be quite so receptive to a flood of refugees, atop those that have already ran from the conflict. Why allow things to spiral to such a height? The world powers must address this conflict and come up with a prompt and reasonable solution, for this blasphemous slaughter has dragged on long enough. So why isn’t ignoring the problem the right thing to do? Ignorance is only bliss as long as your conflict isn’t the one being ignored. Is enjoying brief ignorance and avoidance worth letting the fire spread to our allies, let alone ourselves. Action now can prevent greater action later.
-Shivite12

 

The Pit; Syria’s Freefall

1-1255345896QQ3a
While perusing the news yesterday I came across this article in The New York Times, touching on a concern I’ve had in recent months: how has the conflict in Syria lasted as long as it has? The reasons vary from the religious zeal of extremist ideology to the steadfast pursuit of power by the Syrian government lead by Bashar Al-Assad. In high school I recall learning about the tragedy of the Holocaust, and in my own case the plight of my Native American ancestors(though the information was substantially minimal I don’t mind noting.) When we were educated about these falls of man the underlying theme seemed to be that as a people we had a responsibility to never again let such travesty befall our fellow being. Yet here we stand idly by as a nation burns, children are left homeless, dead, or diseased in a conflict that’s no longer able to find a unifying cause outside of the lawlessness that plagues the land. As explained by Anne Bernard:

“It is not as if the world has no evidence of Syria’s ordeal, which has killed an estimated 150,000 people. Syrians have issued a sustained, collective cry for help from what is now probably history’s most-documented manmade disaster. They capture appalling suffering on video and beam the images out to the world: skeletal infants, body parts pulled from the rubble of homes, faces stretched by despair, over and over. Despite that, to the bitterness of Syrians, the world’s diplomatic attention is drifting. Even as Syria’s epic suffering is remaking the human geography of the Middle East and beyond, initiatives to ease the crisis have sputtered and failed to offer effective help. Already tenuous hopes for an internationally brokered peace settlement have further faded as Russian-American relations worsen.” -Anne Bernard, The New York Times

While the world watches Crimea, and the newfound Russo-US relations that are bound to follow, what will come of the chemical weapons disposal deal brokered by Russia and the US? What will come of Putins support for the totalitarian Syrian Government, let alone the United States’ for a rebel movement now principally inhabited by Jihadists? Whatever your poison, raise a glass in the hopes Russia and America can once again settle things amicably without having to dredge up cold war diplomacy. Evolution only moves forward right? -Shivite12

(Title link leads to Anne Bernard’s stunning piece on the Syrian crisis)

Assad VS. “Terrorists,” Frontlines

(WARNING: Graphic violence)
When examining this video one thing stood out in particular:The disparity between how the government made the conflict look and feel versus the people trapped within. We see the governments’ portrayal of the casualties inflicted as a positive one in the quest for a supposed “reimplementation of the state,” in which it is likely Bashar al-Assad will once again run for President. Should he attain power at its fullest once more all the lives lost to remove him from the seat of power will have been for not, and the state of Human Rights in the nation will likely not improve. Despite the image trying to be projected of Assad being a “People’s President,” tasked with ridding the nation of terrorist threats, his military has been ruthless and closed to negotiation as of late, particularly in his air assault and ground campaigns. While I will concede to Mr.Assad the terror wings of the Free Syrian Army(i.e. Jabhat al-Nursa; ISIS) are a national and international security issue with their training and sending home of various volunteers, easily influenced by extremist ideology. Despite this risk, however, the absolute bludgeoning of ones own people in the name of security is unjustified and devoid of empathy. This is a man considering to run for leadership again? Despite a large margin of the country’s people fighting and dying, that he may never again be able to hurt the Syrian people again? In contrast to the video’s message of military glory, slain but well respected freelance photographer Molhem Barakat paints a dark picture of not just an air raid on Aleppo, but the harshness of life on the frontlines in such a conflict. -Shivite12

LINK: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2527992/Teenage-photographer-haunting-images-native-Syria-circulated-world-killed-capturing-battle-rebel-regime-forces-hospital.html

A look at economic consequence

When examining the Syrian conflict we often become enamored by the bullets flying and the mess of politics that surround it. I was particularly drawn to this video due to its portrayal of a lesser known victim: those burdened with the economic fallout. Jordanians find themselves trapped in a paralyzing economy clogged by a massive influx of Syrian refugees, pouring into Jordan to escape a likely demise. The conflict in Syria shows little to no signs of losing momentum, a foreboding sign of only greater casualties and human rights violations to come. Let us once again hope for an end to this strife before 2015. -Shivite12

You can donate to SaveTheChildren here: http://www.savethechildren.org

%d bloggers like this: