by baldilocks

Gaddafi and Hussein are dead.

It’s said that North Korea’s Kim Jong Un doesn’t want to give up his nukes because of what happened to Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.

After the US invaded Iraq, which resulted in the deposition and execution of Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi gave up his country’s nukes, only to be abandoned by the succeeding US administration – which resulted in Qaddafi’s deposition and execution. If the reports about Kim’s reasoning are true, it’s cogent piece of reasoning.

I’m Old Enough To Remember WhenTM Gaddafi publicly gave up his clandestine nuclear program and Syria’s Bashar Assad promised to pull his troops out of Lebanon, both saying, in effect: “I am not Saddam Hussein.”

As we know, the premise for the invasion of Iraq was that Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), refused to give them up, and refused to allow UN inspection of those weapons. Following the invasion, however, no WMD materials were found in Iraq and the “Bush Lied” meme was born.

(Aside: for years that was the cudgel that Democrats – some of whom had access to the same domestic and foreign intelligence reports that George W. Bush’s intel advisers did and many of whom voted for intervention in Iraq — used to criticize Bush. These Democrat critics included former Senators Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, along with current Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, all of whom voted “yea” for the Iraq Resolution.)

Bashar Assad

In the intervening years, various sources in-the-know have reported that Hussein sent his WMD materials to Syria. If this is true, then it was little skin off Assad’s nose to promise to pull back his troops; he had other many other plans brewing, thanks to Hussein, and at least one other source.

Then, in 2007, the Israelis bombed Syria, targeting what they said was a nuclear reactor under construction.

A video taken inside a secret Syrian facility last summer convinced the Israeli government and the Bush administration that North Korea was helping to construct a reactor similar to one that produces plutonium for North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, according to senior U.S. officials who said it would be shared with lawmakers today.

The officials said the video of the remote site, code-named Al Kibar by the Syrians, shows North Koreans inside. It played a pivotal role in Israel’s decision to bomb the facility late at night last Sept. 6, a move that was publicly denounced by Damascus but not by Washington.

Sources familiar with the video say it also shows that the Syrian reactor core’s design is the same as that of the North Korean reactor at Yongbyon, including a virtually identical configuration and number of holes for fuel rods. It shows “remarkable resemblances inside and out to Yongbyon,” a U.S. intelligence official said. A nuclear weapons specialist called the video “very, very damning.”

Emphasis mine.

The Syrian government expressed outrage about getting bombed by the “Zionist Entity,” of course, and even used the “Bush Lied” rhetoric, but did little else about it. In 2011, the IAEA concurred with Israel’s claim about the facility.

It turns out that the nuclear connections between Syria and North Korea go back to about 1997. If you’re going read at least one of the links, read this one.

So maybe it’s true that Kim doesn’t want to end up like Gaddafi or Hussein — or even Assad — and is using the only leverage he has to stay in power.

This business will get out of control and we will be lucky to live through it.

There is also an Iran connection – naturally – and the Syrian Civil war, and the Russian involvement … but this post is long enough. I just wanted to point to the items, incidents, and connections that nearly every public commentator seems to have forgotten and/or discounted.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

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Kassem Eid survived the 2013 sarin massacre in Syria in which 1,400 people died, so it wasn’t surprising that CNN contacted him to talk about the most recent attack and the Trump administration’s response.

What happened next stunned CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin.

“For the very first time, we see Assad held accountable just for once, held accountable for his crimes against humanity. I was overwhelmed. I felt grateful for President Trump. I felt grateful for the United States. I felt grateful for each and every person who lobbied and kept on talking until someone actually listened,” Eid said.

In an apparent attempt to keep the Syrian survivor on the media talking points about refugees, Baldwin played a video of Hillary Clinton bashing Trump over his immigration plan.

Eid didn’t take the bait.

“Help us stay in our country, and if you just give me a few seconds just to tell President Trump once again, please, sir, what you did was amazing, what you did was powerful message of hope for a lot of people inside and outside of Syria,” he told a dumbstruck Baldwin.

He criticized those who demonstrated against the immigration policies but failed to protest against the sarin attacks in 2013 and now. “I didn’t see you raising your voice against President Obama’s inaction in Syria that led us refugees, that made us refugees get kicked out of Syria. If you really care about refugees, if you really care about helping us, please, help us STAY in our — in our country. We don’t want to come to [the] United States. We want to STAY in our country.”

It’s unlikely that Eid will be asked again for his comments on CNN anytime soon, but his message should be shared and shared again.

Here is his interview on CNN:

As a reporter, I covered Syria for many years. What has occurred over the past six years is one of the worst examples of genocide in history. Although Assad and the self-proclaimed Islamic State bear most of the responsibility for what has happened, the Obama administration’s lack of any coherent strategy except to make idle threats allowed these forces of evil to devastate the country. The Trump administration does not have to commit itself to full-scale involvement in Syria, but the decision to launch missiles gave aid and comfort to Eid and many like him.

Here are some of my most recent columns about Syria:

The media and Syria: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/sep/11/harper-in-syria-war-debate-media-are-missing-in-ac/

The role Hezbollah in Syria: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jun/19/harper-media-overlook-key-player-in-middle-east-cr/

Bashar Assad and 60 Minutes’ dreadful interview: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/apr/1/christopher-harper-60-minutes-bashar-assad-intervi/

By John Ruberry

Barack Obama’s Model United Nations style foreign policy of be-nice-to-rogue-nations-and-they’ll-be-nice-to-you is a failure.

Five years ago Syria’s thug president, Bashar al-Assad, crossed Barack Obama’s red line by using chemical weapons against his own people.

Obama did not retaliate.

Last Tuesday the brute crossed that red line–and on Thursday President Donald J. Trump fired 59 cruise missiles at the Syrian base from where those chemical weapons were launched. This happened the day after an emergency session of the UN Security Council called in response to this cruel attack predictably achieved nothing.

The spoiled fat boy who savagely rules the starving nation of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, keeps firing missiles in tests, those weapons violate numerous United Nations resolutions. For years the rogue state has been building a nuclear weapons program, one that can possibly be used to attack the United States.

Trump is responding to the aggressiveness of the Norks by dispatching an aircraft carrier to Korean waters. He’s reportedly considering deploying nuclear missiles in South Korea.

Obama did nothing of consequence in regards to the North Korean threat.

Trump understands the lessons of the playground that Obama and his fellow leftists never learned. Bullies only back down when confronted with force, or a credible threat of force. For bullies weakness is an opportunity to be exploited. The historical examples of strongmen attacking their own people and more powerful nations plundering weaker ones are so plentiful that I won’t insult the intelligence of my readers by listing them. And if you need examples, then you are too far gone, my friend.

There is some good news–America’s eight-year long vacation from reality is over.

Oh, is there any hope for the UN? No. Add me to the list of people who believe that the United States and other freedom-loving nations, such as Great Britain, Australia, Taiwan, Japan, and lets say Chile, need to band together and form a League of Democracies.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

by baldilocks

Donald Herbert Walker Trump–Zman on the American missile strike in Syria:

Trump won the nomination and the presidency on one core issue. He would be the President of the United States, not the President of the world. That was his line. He repeated it often. It allegedly captured his one core belief. What is good for America is what is good for Americans and the government should always be working to further the interest of Americans, over the interests of foreigners.

The fact that something so obvious and sane has to be explained speaks to the degeneracy of our age. But, we live in a time when we have to debate physical reality with people who insist things like biology and math are a plot by a mystery cult of white men to keep down women and non-whites. Still, Trump running on a platform of rationality, and winning on the platform, gave a lot of people, including me, a spark of hope. Maybe what comes next does not have to be what always comes next.

Yesterday, the alt-right and even many seasoned geezers like me took a body blow when Trump abandoned everything he said over the last two years and embraced the idiocy of yet another war in the Middle East. Not only is he embracing the lunacy of the traitorous neocons, he is risking war with Russia. His “reason” for condemning himself to ruin is that his daughter got the sads over seeing pictures of dead kids in Syria. She takes to twitter over this latest agit-prop and in a day daddy is launching missiles at Assad.

Many who were gung-ho for the Trump candidacy and presidency are ticked off about this or at least questioning it. Thus, they are catching a lot of flak from the true believers, the Trump-worshipers.

Michael Savage is one of President Trump’s solid supporters and he believes that the basis for the missile strike is phony. A microbiologist by training, he says that sarin—a nerve agent–wasn’t even used and, while I’m no microbiologist by any stretch of the imagination, I received NBC training courtesy of the USAF—something which all troops stationed in Cold War Era Europe received–and Mr. Savage’s logic is sound. He posits that some other chemical agent was used. (By the way, in 2014, the Obama Administration asserted that Syria had no chemical agents.)

As a Trump-skeptic who voted for him in the general election—like Zman–I’m not upset that he broke a promise. After all, it isn’t the first one he broke. And, for certain, President Trump is, by far, not the first president to break a promise.

However, I am upset that he chose to break this particular one. What this strike looks like to me: another step in the “Arab” “Spring.” And I’ve always suspected that the purposeful destabilization of countries with large Muslim populations has one goal: clearing the deck for the New Caliphate.

I hope I’m wrong and that Peter is right.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done on April 2017! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism!

Citizen at New Orleans Party: But perhaps the general would at least tell us what his plans are?
General Andrew Jackson: Sir if the hair on my head knew my plans I would cut it off!

The Buccaneer 1958

Ian Howe: You know the key to running a convincing bluff? Every once in a while you got to be holding all the cards.

National Treasure 2004

One of the oddest things to me about the entire Syria Strike story is how so many people are so shocked that Donald Trump did what he did.

Anti-interventionists  were caught off guard and upset.  They see it as a neocon plot, leftists (who were blaming him for the gas attack the day before) consider it a distraction from the nefarious plot to steal the election from Hillary by the Russians, and papers like the NYT who were at the start of the week screaming Russian collusion are now worried about how this will affect our relationship with Putin.

Even Don Surber who has been right about Trump more than almost everyone else was caught off guard.

But when it comes down to it, Trump’s hit on Syria makes a lot of sense because it is so him.

First:  in terms of a deal, if Trump wants to make a deal to stop the war on Syria, to stop North Korea or to take the pressure off the Baltic states afraid of a future Russian invasion he needed to demonstrate a willingness to actually strike, not only did he do so, but he did so While the head of China was his guest, meaning he was willing to demonstrate that diplomatic niceties and timing mean nothing to him when he wants to act. That’s very Trump.

Second:  He was willing to do this without any public warning (yes he gave a private warning to the Russians so as not to back them into a corner since a US strike killing Russian soldiers would force Putin’s hand). There was no months of speeches, or weeks of muscle flexing, there was just action, and Trump is a person who believes in action.  It was right out of this scene of the movie the Buccaneer where Trump’s favorite president Andrew Jackson (back in his general days) dealt with all those who were in panic about the British and New Orleans

If you’re a potential enemy of America, from this point on you can’t be sure if crossing us will bring a shower of missiles down on you or not. That’s very Trump too.

Thirdly:   It was consistent with Trump’s sense of discipline, not in the sense that the media sees him, as an undisciplined speaker who acts rashly, but as in:  This is the way things are and you’d better get used to the idea

It was a moment right out of Captain’s Courageous:

Captain Troop, with the good of the ship and the livelihood of the entire crew to worry about, notes he can’t risk months of fishing on a boy’s yarn. When Harvey still rants Troop finally concludes: “I guess there’s nothing left for it.” He rears back and gives Harvey a slap that knocks him flat. Harvey for perhaps for the first time in his life doesn’t know what to say:
You HIT me!
“Now you just sit there and think about it.”

It is here, with the establishment of discipline, that the movie begins to shift.

This was the re-establishment of discipline on an international level, the United States back in the game and everybody at the table had better get used to the idea again. That’s Trump all over.

Fourth: It gave Donald Trump, who doesn’t like or trust, the UN a chance to not only demonstrate US power to it, but to show them the old games they like to play are now over, to wit:

The UN business of being on one side of the fence in public and the other in private isn’t going to be played against the US anymore, and every nation that counts on America to foot the bill allowing their diplomats and NGO’s to live high off the hog there are seeing it. It’s the art of the deal, so Trump.

(on a side note if Nikki Haley decides to run for president, this will play very well).

Fifth: By hitting now when the strike can be small it likely prevents him from having to hit harder later. Trump by his nature is, like many of his isolationist supporters who are now pissed off, a non-interventionist by nature. The problem with such a position is it tells the world that you can push me and push me and I won’t touch you.  Now if your goal is a weak US in retreat, as was the Obama administration’s ,that’s fine, but if your goal is a strong US that doesn’t have to fight everywhere, it’s not.

By making his point early on in his presidency, and on a small scal,e he is likely preventing a larger US involvement, not enabling it.  Think of John Wayne in this exchange in Big Jake as his party rides into town with a red box containing a million dollar ransom in front of everybody.

James McCandles: Isn’t this a bit showy Pa? That big red box and all the guns out?
Jacob McCandles: I hate secrets, never knew one to be kept. They’ve all heard what’s in that chest, they all want it, what we’re doing by this ostentatious display is telling them they can’t have it. Hell, we may be saving some poor miscreant’s own life by doing this, maybe even our own.

Big Jake 1971

Perhaps by this display he will restrain a few bad actors from making moves to provoke the US into a war we don’t want, which incidentally is exactly what his base that wants to stay out of things wants. It’s the Fram oil filter ad all over again, you can pay me now our pay me later. Trump’s a businessman, it’s good business.

Sixth and last: A person who is a pol looks at kids getting gassed as part of the great game of diplomacy and considers every possible angle and tries to minimize any event that brings risk.  A normal person looks at kids getting gassed to death and reacts saying: This will not stand. Why anyone would think that Trump would stand by and let this happen, when he has the power to stop it, or at least make these guys think about it long and hard about doing it again?  It’s completely beyond me that anyone would think a man like Trump who is a man of emotion and reaction would sit still.  Doing something that needs to be done, this is so very Trump.

This strike is completely in keeping Trump’s philosophy of doing things. What I don’t understand is why people don’t see it?


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If you turn on the TV, the radio or any internet news source, all you hear is Syria. The ratio of information to commentary is at best 1:1,500, and I include major news outlets in that number.

So far, it appears that Trump acted with decisive force to achieve a limited objective.

Beyond that, very little of the commentary asks questions such as, Is Anti-Trump Left Media Culture Willing to Fight in Syria to Win?, where Pete enumerated,

So while the gas attacks in Syria are horrific before we consider going to war in Syria we as a country need to answer these questions.

  1. Are we willing to go to war and pay the price in blood and treasure to topple Assad risking American lives in Syria?

  2. Are we willing to fight that war until it’s actually won rather than fight a limited war for the sake of saving face?

  3. Are we willing once Assad is toppled to stay in Syria for the 30 to fifty years to make sure Syria doesn’t become Iraq or Libya and leave it for Islamist to take over?

  4. Are we willing to take responsibility for not only the military but the civilian casualties that will inevitably take place in Syria in such a war?

  5. Are we willing to risk a military confrontation(s) with Russia and Iran in order to do this?

To these one may add questions on effects on the larger world – notice how the attack was reported while Pres. Trump dined with China’s Xi, or how North Korea and others (such as Iran and especially Russia) view this, for instance. Many of the comments focus on refugees and immigration-related agenda.

Instead, thousands of tweets, blog posts, and Facebook comments are criticism or praise of something the commenter knows little or nothing about, least of which is information on Syria itself.

Years ago I went to a lecture by Tim Berners-Lee, the guy who actually invented the world wide web (Al Gore sure as heck didn’t invent it). He was glad people could express their opinions on the web, but his intent is to disseminate knowledge.

In a search for knowledge it’s up to us to search for the facts and ask questions, if we are also interested in acquiring wisdom. The rest of it is just opinions, which are like navels: everybody has one.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz posts on U.S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

This week I attended the funeral mass of a friend of my father’s who served in the French Air Force during WW 2. and that got me thinking about Syria and the missile strikes now taking place.

One of the things about being the son of a World War 2 Vet (Navy, Pacific 1942-45) is I tend to be much more willing to see US intervention than people in my generation who are the grandchildren of that dying next generation That generation was willing to unite pay the price to stop the Axis power, albeit it took the Nazi’s attacking the USSR to get the leftists on board and Pearl Harbor to bring the isolationists on board.

Of course being a largely Christian society and a type of Christianity that actually believed in heaven and hell (what would be called conservative today) such risks and sacrifices were not only considered virtuous but involved one’s eternal reward. Such a culture is capable of going to war in a just cause and was willing to pay the cost in blood and treasure to win it.

Today with a largely secular society and a generation that needs safe spaces for “microagressions” like saying “he” that’s a different story.

Furthermore we have the contrast of a society being willing bear the costs in lives and treasure to keep a large military force in perpetuity in the countries we conquered to change their societies (our military is STILL in Germany , Italy and Japan 72 years later) vs cutting and running like Barack Obama in Iraq for short term political advantage and allowing our enemies to gain power (which is what caused the rise of ISIS in the first place).

So while the gas attacks in Syria are horrific before we consider going to war in Syria we as a country need to answer these questions.

  1. Are we willing to go to war and pay the price in blood and treasure to topple Assad risking American lives in Syria?
  2. Are we willing to fight that war until it’s actually won rather than fight a limited war for the sake of saving face?
  3. Are we willing once Assad is toppled to stay in Syria for the 30 to fifty years to make sure Syria doesn’t become Iraq or Libya and leave it for Islamist to take over?
  4. Are we willing to take responsibility for not only the military but the civilian casualties that will inevitably take place in Syria in such a war?
  5. Are we willing to risk a military confrontation(s) with Russia and Iran in order to do this?

If we as a society are willing to do this, then it’s absolutely a good idea for the US to declare war (yes we should actually declare war) in Syria and support whatever sacrifices it takes to win. I’d like to think that we are a society and a culture strong enough to do what needs to be done to free Syria and stop not only Assad but his Iranian backers.

If the answer to any of those questions are “no” If we balk at the costs, if we are only willing to fight a limited war to save face and or cut and run in the face of Russia and Iran and leave the situation as it is, if we allow the left outrage over every civilian casualty that war brings (and believe me the anti-Trump left will do so) to cause us to blink, if we leave the Syria to become the next failed state dominated by Islamists to breed terror then we are better off not going. We should do it right or not at all.

Frankly given the reality of our self-centered, soft and narcissistic society I think this is the more likely outcome as I can’t see a nation where the very thought of being nice to Trump supporters sends the left into a public frenzy and where police stand by while rioters attack those who support the president capable of uniting under this president to achieve a great cause like this but I’d be delighted to be proved wrong.

Closing thought: Can someone explain to me why the slaughter of the opponents of Assad with chemical weapons is so heinous that it’s considered a causes belli that must be acted upon but if Assad slaughters those same people with bombs, shelling and small arms it’s not?

Closing thought 2: Does anyone seriously believe that the left with the full backing of the media won’t go the full vietnam/Iraq mode with the hope of producing American defeat if Trump does decides to go to war?


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This took Trump what Ten Days?

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, in a phone call on Sunday with U.S. President Donald Trump, agreed to support safe zones in Syria and Yemen, a White House statement said.

Trump, during his presidential campaign last year, had called for Gulf states to pay for establishing safe zones to protect Syrian refugees.

A statement after the phone call said the two leaders agreed on the importance of strengthening joint efforts to fight the spread of Islamic State militants.

“The president requested and the King agreed to support safe zones in Syria and Yemen, as well as supporting other ideas to help the many refugees who are displaced by the ongoing conflicts,” the statement said.

This is what you get when you have a president & administration of action vs one of hashtags.

Via the Conservative Treehouse who notes:

This is a jaw-dropping exhibition of the scope of President Trump’s strategic leverage. Remember how Secretary of State Rex Tillerson refused to take the bait from Senator Marco Rubio regarding Saudi Arabia? Put this outcome in the dividend column.

I have an odd feeling the press and protesters will have very little to say about this.

Update: Short Answer Yes.

Can anyone tell me what the Obama Administration and their team of the smartest people in the world have been doing these last 2 years?

Update 2: Don Surber

President Trump and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman agreed on creating a safe zone for Muslim refugees within the Middle East, the New Indian Express (as well as Reuters and Bloomberg) reported.

Conservatives have long asked why America and Europe must take in refugees when their Arab Muslim neighbors have the money to help their fellow Muslims.

Trump is making it so.

I’m amazed that Surber doesn’t have an admin job yet.


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Today, a truce has been brokered in Syria that will hopefully turn the corner on the worst humanitarian crisis in modern history. With the country torn to pieces, refugees have been flooding into Europe and some parts of the Middle East, creating a dangerous situation for the entire region. America, under the leadership of President Obama, was not a part of the talks.

America, under the leadership of President Obama, didn’t deserve to be part of the talks.

Let’s take a quick look at recent history in Syria. It was a chain reaction of horrible mistakes. First, Obama drew his “red line” of chemical and biological weapons, claiming that if Bashar al Assad used them it would change the calculus for the United States to take action. Assad crossed the red line. Obama didn’t take action, letting the window of opportunity close before Russia stepped in.

Then, Obama went with the plan of arming and training Syrian rebels to take on Assad’s army. As many will recall, much of the support that Obama gave to enemies of Assad ended up being transferred to the Islamic State and other radical Islamic militants. They were supposed to be the force that drove back the Islamic State and got rid of Assad. Instead, they were neutered from the start by the poor plan before being obliterated by Russia, Iran, and Syria.

Finally, Obama attempted to negotiate peace while bickering with Russia over who would be involved. He tried to work through Turkey to get one done. His “smart power” policy would share the credit for cleaning up the mess he created. Instead, Turkey found a better partner in Russia and they got it done without him.

With 22 days before Obama is out of office, it’s fitting that he’s been excluded from cleaning up the mess that he created. As a parent, I’ve used with incredible efficiency the non-involvement tactic when the kids leave a mess behind. I draw their attention to the mess they made, then I proceed to clean it. When they offer to help, I tell them that I’ll take care of it because if they were concerned about the mess, they would have cleaned it up before. The guilt they feel as they watch their mess being cleaned has more of a lasting impact than making them clean it up themselves. Today, they clean up their messes before I see them.

Obama is being treated like a child by the international community because he’s acted like a foreign policy neophyte for eight years. He cannot take credit for fixing Syria and will get most of the blame for allowing the situation to explode. America is meant to be strong, to lead. Obama wanted to lead from behind. Instead, he’s being left behind. The result is a world that is much worse off today than when he became President.

The Roman ruins at Palmyra, Syria, before the self-proclaimed Islamic State took control

Syria was always one of my favorite places in the world—an amazing mix of ancient sites that even despots couldn’t destroy until now.

When I worked for Newsweek and ABC News in the Middle East in the 1970s and 1980s, I spent many days there.

It was difficult to report in the police state of President Hafez al-Assad, who ruled the country until his death in 2000. He was a bad guy—perhaps even worse than his son Bashar, who now heads the country.

Nevertheless, Syria, the country, was always a nice place to visit. Damascus is considered the longest continuously inhabited city in the world—founded more than 3,000 years ago.

When you go to the old market or souk, you travel along the road where St. Paul was converted. Yes, it’s that road to Damascus. Nearby is thought to be the grave of St. John the Baptist.

The souk is one of the most amazing in the Middle East. I bought my first Persian carpet there, along with numerous copper and brass tables, plates and tea services from “Cha Cha,” a Syrian trader who was a favorite of the foreign community. He even found an old Russian samovar that still has a special place in our home.

The Roman ruins at Palmyra are among the most beautiful in the Middle East, with more than 150,000 tourists visiting the site before the civil war.

Some Arabic dishes in Syria have a distinctly different taste, mainly from a special red pepper from Aleppo, the city now in ruins from the civil war.

I worked on a variety of stories in Syria—almost always under the watchful eye of government censors and secret police. The last one was more than 30 years ago—an investigation of Syria’s connection to the 1983 attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut that left 241 servicemen dead.

In 2011, I gave a speech in Beirut to a group of journalists. I argued that the civil war—only a few months old then—required U.S. boots on the ground. More important, journalists needed to document the atrocities of the Assad regime without any concern for objectivity, fairness and balance. Simply put, there were not two sides of the story—only the need to stop the brutality of government.

Two prominent journalists—one from The Washington Post and another from National Public Radio—disagreed with me. I hope they realize now how wrong they were to oppose the involvement of U.S. troops and the need to change from the neutral stance of journalists in covering the civil war.

In 2013 President Obama drew a line in the sand in Syria–a line that was quickly swept away by inaction.

Most people see the horror of what has happened in Syria as a result of the atrocities of the Assad regime and the self-proclaimed Islamic State. I’m glad I still have some good memories left.


Christopher Harper worked as a journalist for many years, including nearly a decade in the Middle East for Newsweek and ABC News. He teaches media law.