FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Citizen “Street Teach-Ins” As the Obama Prepares to Bomb Syria

Damascus

The Persians, whose bright, articulate students are well known internationally, and with whom this observer has been honored to discuss international politics on several occasions, may well have met their intellectual match in the Syrian Arabs. I base this conclusion on what is happening among the public in Damascus, not just in the universities and schools, but during impromptu “marketplace of ideas” sessions increasingly taking place on the streets and in coffee houses and places of public gathering.

Last night was one example.  Way past this observer’s bedtime, some friends dropped by, desiring to sit outside “for a few minutes” to discuss the latest news from Washington and St. Petersburg. We ended up perching ourselves on concrete slabs that divide Al Bahsa Street in front of my hotel—where no cars are allowed—for more than three hours!  Miss Hiba, a wild and wonderful Palestinian journalist born in Yarmouk camp, interpreted for us. The congregation very quickly grew as a few soldiers, shabiha and national defense force types showed up to see what was going on. Some even joined in the fast moving, animated discussion.

There were several students and neighborhood residents assembling and at the start of the ‘seminar” it quickly became obvious that Syrians are carefully tracking developments in the run-up to the widely expected “9/13/13 black Friday” now less than one week away. It is this date when many Damascenes and foreign observers believe the American attack will begin. A minority expressed the view that Obama is unlikely to order the attack because of an increasingly skeptical—indeed hostile-American and international public that see only disaster from another reckless US invasion of this region.

Life appears on the surface fairly normal, but tensions are rising and people are alarmed at the prospects of an American attack. This observer was educated by these Syrians about a number of things, including the conflict raging here, and on how events locally and internationally are apt to unfold.

Very few here, if any, are inclined to believe that the American attack will be limited or short, this despite the fact that for the past few days the Obama team has made frequent use of the word “degrade” (as in demolish or destroy, one might note); nor do they believe its sole purpose is to send a message or to punish the Syrian leadership.

An elderly gentleman who owns a pharmacy around the corner explained, “It’s regime change here and in Tehran and nothing less!  They will bomb anywhere at will because their top 75 listed targets have already been emptied and keep shifting.  We are all working to provide Obama with no targets.”

One aged Bedouin woman interjected, “Who benefits from the Americans attacking us other than Israel?”   A rough looking elderly gentleman standing next to her, maybe her cantankerous husband, blurted out, with a trace of condescension and wearing a faint scowl, “That’s the whole idea, woman!”

This observer was dumbfounded by the sophistication of the comments made at the impromptu gathering. One Damascus University student preparing to return to classes later this month rattled off some likely or projected results of the upcoming Congressional vote, explaining to the growing assembly that in the House of Representatives the count, as of 9/4/13, could be viewed as 47 members firmly or inclined toward voting yes; 187 firmly or inclined to a no vote, with 220 unknown or undecided. Then she announced she was pretty certain the President will be forced to withdraw the resolution or postpone a vote in the House.

Another lady, who I have seen around my hotel garden, mentioned yesterday’s report in the Washington Post that the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has linked with the Israeli lobby AIPAC in an all-out public campaign for a U.S. war on Syria. I had no idea about this, and wondered how she was so current with her information.  She then explained, “So far, only 21 senators have said they support or are likely to support the Obama resolution, thirteen have said they oppose or are likely to oppose the resolution, while 66 votes are undecided or unknown.”

By early this morning, when our gathering had begun drawing to a close, the conversation had made its way around to the U.S. Constitution. One young man, presumably a law student, zeroed in on Article One, Section Eight, Clause 11, reciting for this observer not a summary, mind you, but word-for-word—from memory—“The Congress shall have Power To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.

He then explained that the particular passage provides no specific format for what form any legislation must have in order to be considered a “Declaration of War,” nor does the Constitution itself use this term. Then came the zinger: “Sir can you compare and contrast this Article and Clause with the 1973 War Powers Act and share with us your interpretation of both with respect to what your President is threatening to do to my country.”

“Who is this guy?” I thought to myself, and I began to stutter, thinking to myself, somewhat in anguish, “Where is Professor Richard Falk when I need him. For sure he could answer this question perfectly.”

Not knowing where or how to begin to answer the gentleman, I mumbled something like “that’s an excellent question, can we meet later to discuss it because it’s very late now.”

But mercifully, just as I glanced at my watch, noticing it was 4:28 a.m., we all heard the Adhan, (Islamic call to prayer) called out by a muezzin from the nearby mosque. The somehow reassuring strains, even a bit eerie, wafted around us. The time had come for al Fajr (Dawn) prayers. It was this observer’s good luck; I could duck the question.

The soldiers on the street fell silent, listening, becoming contemplative. One can only imagine their ruminations about next week’s likely American bombing campaign. Most everyone began now to disperse. I was saved.

No thanks to absent Professor Falk, who would doubtless would have answered the gentleman’s question flawlessly and he did many, during his recent visit next door in Lebanon.

The people of the Syrian Arab Republic are politically sophisticated and amazingly well informed as to the current crisis, even down to specifics on external players and their plans.

As a dark day approaches the Syrian Arab Republic, one can only wish each Syrian, whatever his current condition, a return to peace, and join with them, and with all people of good will, to achieve an end to the destruction of this ten thousand year old civilization.

In the words of  the Papal nuncio contained in the letter from Pope Francis to Russian President Vladimir Putin, host of the recent G-20 summit in St. Petersburg:

“To all in attendance, I make a heartfelt appeal for them to help find ways to overcome the conflicting positions and to lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution.  Rather, let there be a renewed commitment to seek, with courage and determination, a peaceful solution through dialogue and negotiation of the parties, unanimously supported by the international community.”

Taking his views on Syria to Twitter, the Vicar of Christ added: “War never again! Never again war! How much suffering, how much devastation, and how much pain has the use of arms carried in its wake. We want in our society, torn apart by divisions and conflict, that peace break out! With all my strength, I ask each party in the conflict not to close themselves in solely on their own interests. I pray for peace.”

Franklin Lamb is doing research in Syria and Lebanon and can be reached c/o fplamb@gmail.com

More articles by:

Franklin Lamb volunteers with the Lebanon, France, and USA based Meals for Syrian Refugee Children Lebanon (MSRCL) which seeks to provide hot nutritional meals to Syrian and other refugee children in Lebanon. http://mealsforsyrianrefugeechildrenlebanon.com. He is reachable c/o fplamb@gmail.com.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

June 17, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
The Dark Side of Brexit: Britain’s Ethnic Minorities Are Facing More and More Violence
Linn Washington Jr.
Remember the Vincennes? The US’s Long History of Provoking Iran
Geoff Dutton
Where the Wild Things Were: Abbey’s Road Revisited
Nick Licata
Did a Coverup of Who Caused Flint Michigan’s Contaminated Water Continue During Its Investigation? 
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange and the Scales of Justice: Exceptions, Extraditions and Politics
John Feffer
Democracy Faces a Global Crisis
Louisa Willcox
Revamping Grizzly Bear Recovery
Stephen Cooper
“Wheel! Of! Fortune!” (A Vegas Story)
Daniel Warner
Let Us Laugh Together, On Principle
Brian Cloughley
Trump Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Weekend Edition
June 14, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump’s Trade Threats are Really Cold War 2.0
Bruce E. Levine
Tom Paine, Christianity, and Modern Psychiatry
Jason Hirthler
Mainstream 101: Supporting Imperialism, Suppressing Socialism
T.J. Coles
How Much Do Humans Pollute? A Breakdown of Industrial, Vehicular and Household C02 Emissions
Andrew Levine
Whither The Trump Paradox?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of 10,000 Talkers, All With Broken Tongues
Pete Dolack
Look to U.S. Executive Suites, Not Beijing, For Why Production is Moved
Paul Street
It Can’t Happen Here: From Buzz Windrip and Doremus Jessup to Donald Trump and MSNBC
Rob Urie
Capitalism Versus Democracy
Richard Moser
The Climate Counter-Offensive: Secrecy, Deception and Disarming the Green New Deal
Naman Habtom-Desta
Up in the Air: the Fallacy of Aerial Campaigns
Ramzy Baroud
Kushner as a Colonial Administrator: Let’s Talk About the ‘Israeli Model’
Mark Hand
Residents of Toxic W.Va. Town Keep Hope Alive
John Kendall Hawkins
Alias Anything You Please: a Lifetime of Dylan
Linn Washington Jr.
Bigots in Blue: Philadelphia Police Department is a Home For Hate
David Macaray
UAW Faces Its Moment of Truth
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Horace G. Campbell
Edward Seaga and the Institutionalization of Thuggery, Violence and Dehumanization in Jamaica
Graham Peebles
Zero Waste: The Global Plastics Crisis
Michael Schwalbe
Oppose Inequality, Not Cops
Ron Jacobs
Scott Noble’s History of Resistance
Olivia Alperstein
The Climate Crisis is Also a Health Emergency
David Rosen
Time to Break Up the 21st Century Tech Trusts
George Wuerthner
The Highest Use of Public Forests: Carbon Storage
Ralph Nader
It is Time to Rediscover Print Newspapers
Nick Licata
How SDS Imploded: an Inside Account
Rachel Smolker – Anne Peterman
The GE American Chestnut: Restoration of a Beloved Species or Trojan Horse for Tree Biotechnology?
Sam Pizzigati
Can Society Survive Without Empathy?
Manuel E. Yepe
China and Russia in Strategic Alliance
Patrick Walker
Green New Deal “Climate Kids” Should Hijack the Impeachment Conversation
Colin Todhunter
Encouraging Illegal Planting of Bt Brinjal in India
Robert Koehler
The Armed Bureaucracy
David Swanson
Anyone Who’d Rather Not be Shot Should Read this Book
Jonathan Power
To St. Petersburg With Love
Marc Levy
How to Tell a Joke in Combat
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail