Which Way Is the Front Line from Here?

April 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

A documentary about the life and times of photojournalist Tim Hetherington who was killed covering the Libyan revolution. It’s made by his friend and acclaimed war correspondent Sebastian Junger.

Angelina Jolie meets Syria refugees

March 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie visits Syrian refugees in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.

UNRWA iconic image goes to Times Square

March 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

United Nations, New York, 20 March 2014 – “The iconic image of a huge crowd waiting for UNRWA food parcels in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, Damascus has gone up on the “Jumbotron” billboard in New York’s Times Square. This sends a powerful message to the world diplomatic community down the road at UN Head Quarters that the world has had enough of Syria’s pitiless conflict. The photo which went viral on the internet within minutes of being released has come to symbolize the revulsion of the world with what is taking place in Syria. The showing in Times Square follows a successful, celebrity backed social media campaign by UNRWA to secure support from 23 million people worldwide, the pre war population of Syria. As the image went up, a crowd below held up pita bread as a symbolic gesture of support for the starving masses in Syria.” (UNRWA Spokesperson, Chris Gunness)

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Stephen Hawking gives Syria his voice

March 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

A powerful statement by legendary physicist Stephen Hawking. Another effective awareness-raising campaign by Save the Children.

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The Syria Test

March 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

Two weeks back on Radio Open Source I debated Prof. Stephen Walt of Harvard on intervention in Syria. It was 3 am for me, so I wasn’t as coherent or articulate as I’d have liked to be.


With Iraq and Afghanistan bleeding in our rear-view mirror, is there a case still to be made for American intervention with anything more than words in Syria’s miserable meltdown? The news and pictures from Syria are perfectly awful – sarin gas against civilians succeeded by barrel bombs on Aleppo, millions of Syrians on the run, all varieties of torture, targeting of children and doctors, a death toll in two-and-a-half years of warfare approaching 150,000, and no end in sight. But is there anything like a constructive case for American intervention?

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An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth

March 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

I am reading Chris Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. It is not only the best book in the space exploration genre, it is one of the best book’s I’ve read generally. On the nature of dreams, determination, wonder, and commitment, there are some wonderful insights. Despite his extraordinary achievements in space, Hadfield remains down to earth. He has wit, a wonderful sense of humor, and a real knack for telling stories. He also delivers his insights on life without sounding didactic. I’m only a quarter of a way in and so far it’s been a pleasure. Check it out: you’ll enjoy it.

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Just because it isn’t happening here…

March 5, 2014 § 1 Comment

A young girl’s life gets turned upside-down in this tragic second a day video. Could this ever happen in the UK? This is what war does to children. Find out more at http://bit.ly/3yearson

The Syria Test

February 27, 2014 § Leave a comment

Residents wait to receive food aid distributed at the besieged al-Yarmouk camp, south of Damascus on January 31, 2014. (UNRWA)

Residents wait to receive food aid distributed at the besieged al-Yarmouk camp, south of Damascus on January 31, 2014. (UNRWA)

Tonight I’ll be joining Stephen Walt on the wonderful Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon to debate the crisis in Syria. I rarely disagree with Steve on anything but on Syria our views diverge. Steve is a formidable interlocutor and Chris is a radio legend who knows how to cut to the heart of a subject. I am hoping that today’s debate leads to greater clarity. Here’s from Chris’s introduction:

The nightmare in Syria has slipped off the front page. Yet civilians are still dying by the hundreds every day. Thousands are dead and millions more displaced across Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq. Petroleum “barrel bombs” have replaced sarin gas and the specter of al-Qaeda seems to hover over it all.

We’ve been there before, debating how to respond to a humanitarian crisis halfway across the world. Vietnam in the ’70s, Beirut in the ’80s, Kuwait and Bosnia in the ’90s, and of course Iraq and Afghanistan. Four months ago, Syria looked like the next in that series, with destroyers sailing to the Gulf and Tomahawk missiles armed and ready to fire. Were we right to breathe a sigh of relief, or was non-intervention a worse course than risking another quagmire?

What should we have done, what can we still do, and is it too late to pass the test in Syria?

Healthcare as a weapon in Assad’s war

February 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

My eloquent and courageous friend Dr. Rola Hallam on ways to end Assad’s war.

Accountability in Syria

January 18, 2014 § Leave a comment

An excellent présentation by Ken Roth of Human Rights Watch (begins at the 5:45 mark):

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