“The bombs smashed into a child care center, a refugee camp and a school. They destroyed makeshift clinics and hospitals, disabling essential services for tens of thousands of people.
Over the past year, attacks on buildings in northwestern Syria, which are supposed to be off limits during wartime under international law, grew so frequent that the head of the United Nations launched an inquiry to document the violations.
Secretary General António Guterres’s establishment of the investigation is seen by many diplomats as a success at a United Nations largely stymied by division in the powerful Security Council. Russia, a Syrian government ally and a major perpetrator of these attacks, has cast 14 vetoes in the Security Council since the start of the war in Syria, blocking accountability efforts and hindering humanitarian aid deliveries into Syria.
Since April, at least 60 health facilities in northwestern Syria have been damaged in strikes, and at least 29 of them were on the off limits list. But the United Nations, at least so far, is looking at just seven incidents. A United Nations spokesman would not say how the inquiry’s sites were determined.
Human rights and medical groups that support hospitals in Syria have criticized the inquiry as insufficient, saying it fails to match the gravity of the violations. The inquiry, for example, is looking at only one attack likely to have been carried out by Russia, despite previous investigations by The New York Times that found Russia bombed hospitals at least five times in May and November.”
Seven incidents on the United Nations list investigated by The Times.Satellite image by Landsat and Copernicus, via Google Earth
Admiral McRaven is a former commander of the United States Special Operations Command.
“But the most poignant recognition that evening was for a young female sailor who had been killed in Syria serving alongside our allies in the fight against ISIS. Her husband, a former Army Green Beret, accepted the award on her behalf. Like so many that came before her, she had answered the nation’s call and willingly put her life in harm’s way.
For everyone who ever served in uniform, or in the intelligence community, for those diplomats who voice the nation’s principles, for the first responders, for the tellers of truth and the millions of American citizens who were raised believing in American values — you would have seen your reflection in the faces of those we honored last week.
But, beneath the outward sense of hope and duty that I witnessed at these two events, there was an underlying current of frustration, humiliation, anger and fear that echoed across the sidelines. The America that they believed in was under attack, not from without, but from within.
These men and women, of all political persuasions, have seen the assaults on our institutions: on the intelligence and law enforcement community, the State Department and the press. They have seen our leaders stand beside despots and strongmen, preferring their government narrative to our own. They have seen us abandon our allies and have heard the shouts of betrayal from the battlefield. As I stood on the parade field at Fort Bragg, one retired four-star general, grabbed my arm, shook me and shouted, “I don’t like the Democrats, but Trump is destroying the Republic!”
Those words echoed with me throughout the week. It is easy to destroy an organization if you have no appreciation for what makes that organization great. We are not the most powerful nation in the world because of our aircraft carriers, our economy, or our seat at the United Nations Security Council. We are the most powerful nation in the world because we try to be the good guys. We are the most powerful nation in the world because our ideals of universal freedom and equality have been backed up by our belief that we were champions of justice, the protectors of the less fortunate.
But, if we don’t care about our values, if we don’t care about duty and honor, if we don’t help the weak and stand up against oppression and injustice — what will happen to the Kurds, the Iraqis, the Afghans, the Syrians, the Rohingyas, the South Sudanese and the millions of people under the boot of tyranny or left abandoned by their failing states?
If our promises are meaningless, how will our allies ever trust us? If we can’t have faith in our nation’s principles, why would the men and women of this nation join the military? And if they don’t join, who will protect us? If we are not the champions of the good and the right, then who will follow us? And if no one follows us — where will the world end up?”
Bravo New York Times for pointing out that Hillary Clinton is the clearest, smartests, and most experienced voice on foreign policy and how to combat the threat of terrorism. Thank you for an informed and articulate editorial. I would have given Obama some of the credit. The Bernie Bros have a point that Saint Sanders deserved at least an honorable mention. I took seriously the complaint of one commentator, that Hillary Clinton caved in to the Jewish lobby with ignorant pandering at Aipac. I am outspoken in my condemnation of Israel for their illegal land grabs using settlers. So I looked up Hillary’s speech, and her words are not ignorant, or uninformed, or giving…
“I spoke to a couple of young refugees from Aleppo, Mahmoud Sultan and Mulham (he preferred not to give his family name out of concern for his family’s safety). They complained about the food, about the noise, about the difficulty of studying German, about how weeks stretched into months at this “emergency” center.They had not wanted to leave Aleppo. But, as Mulham put it: “You have this hope the war will end. For one year, two years, three years, you keep this hope. You think, I owe my country something and I will stay. Until in the fifth year you realize there are five wars! The rebels against Assad, ISIS against the Free Syrian Army, the Saudis against Iran, the Kurds against ISIS, and Russia against America! And you lose hope.”The refugees did not leave because they had a choice. They left because they concluded they had none. Merkel, given her personal history and her nation’s, had little choice but to take them in.Now she needs those five wars to abate, and Western allies to come together with something of the resolve that Tempelhof symbolizes, if she is to calm a strained Germany, hold Europe together, and survive. That will require leadership and determination of a kind she demonstrated but that is in short supply in the social-media echo chamber of our times.”
“After five months of suffering and destruction under unrelenting attacks by Russian aircraft, the Syrian people have at last received some good news: an agreement announced early Friday morning in Munich between the United States and Russia to deliver desperately needed humanitarian aid to besieged Syrian cities, followed by at least a temporary cessation of hostilities.”
“Is realism really, really what America wants as the cornerstone of its foreign policy?Stephen M. Walt, a professor of international affairs at Harvard University, has an eloquent ode to realism in Foreign Policy magazine. He argues that, with realism as the bedrock of its approach to the world over the past quarter century, the United States would have fared far better. Realists, he reminds us, “have a generally pessimistic view of international affairs and are wary of efforts to remake the world according to some ideological blueprint.”Pessimism is a useful source of prudence in both international and personal affairs. Walt’s piece makes several reasonable points. But he omits the major European conflict of the period under consideration — the wars of Yugoslavia’s destruction, in which some 140,000 people were killed and millions displaced.”
Thank you Roger Cohen for an excellent piece. I see in the comments at the NYT, that the popular thing is to shred you for defending any interventions. However, recently returned from a trip to Sarajevo, you couldn’t have picked a better example of strong American intervention that ends genocide and restores civlity and some democracy.
Your critics also miss your subtle point that when Bassar Assad crossed the red line of using chemical weapons on his own people, it was early enough so that a strong intervention back then, besides being quietly recommended by the Joint Chiefs, Sec of State Hillary Clinton, and Nicholas Kristof, had chances that were never explored, before ISSIS had grown strong.
I invite you to write Part Two, what realistically can be done in Syria and Iraq now.
Four years ago, Nicholas Kristof, Hillary Clinton and the Joint Chiefs were right to argue for intervention on the side of the more moderate militants in Syria, and Obama was probably wrong not to go along, but that is history, hindsight, and unprovable.
Today, Obama does have a sophisticated policy, to let the regional players lead, and help guide them, but not become the trillion dollar sucker at the crap table, which we have done to the tune of 3,4, or 5 trillion dollars, depending on who you are reading.
Can the Kurds be hired to fight outside their own territories?
Meanwhile, we need to rebuild Detroit and other fallen manufacturing centers in the US. Iraq and Afghanistan are proof that we do not have the skill or wealth or knowledge to rebuild these medieval societies in our our own modern, western image.
“And the ISIS threat is becoming strategic. The massive outflow of refugees from Syria and Iraq that ISIS has provoked is leading the European Union to start to close internal borders and limit the free flow of people and probably some goods as well — just the opposite of what the bloc was created to do. That will only slow the E.U.’s economic growth and fuel greater nationalism that could ultimately threaten its unity. The E.U. is America’s most important partner in managing the global system. If it is weakened, we are weakened.”
“Since the earliest months of the Syrian war, Turkey has had more direct involvement and more at stake than any of the regional states lined up against Bashar al-Assad.Turkish borders have been the primary thoroughfare for fighters of all kinds to enter Syria. Its military bases have been used to distribute weapons and to train rebel fighters. And its frontier towns and villages have taken in almost one million refugees.Turkey’s international airports have also been busy. Many, if not most, of the estimated 15,000-20,000 foreign fighters to have joined Islamic State (Isis) have first flown into Istanbul or Adana, or arrived by ferry along its Mediterranean coast.”
“Battening down the hatches is often an impulsive and politically expedient response to terrorism attacks. Predictably, the harrowing scenes of carnage in Paris on Friday are fueling calls to shut down borders and halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Western nations.Senator Marco Rubio, a leading Republican presidential candidate, said the United States should stop taking in Syrian refugees. Jeb Bush, another Republican candidate, suggested, idiotically, that it might be O.K. to admit only Christians. Several governors announced that their states would not accept Syrian refugees. Republicans on Capitol Hill are expected this week to push for legislation that would block President Obama’s initiative to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees next year.”
This is a good editorial by the NYT, until the end when they write: “Surely America can offer a smarter and more generous response than Mr. Rubio’s fearmongering. In a televised interview over the weekend, he warned, darkly, that “you can have 1,000 people come in and 999 of them are just poor people fleeing oppression and violence, but one of them is an ISIS fighter.” That’s nonsense. America last year admitted 1,682 Syrian refugees — an embarrassingly small number for the largest refugee crisis since World War II.”
I’m not sure what it means, or that it makes any sense. Rubio’s point is not nonsense, but perhaps it plays into what the terrorists want.
The great points before this paragraph still stand. I will add my two cents. I think the terrorists want the world to stop accepting Syrian refugees. They need these young men and their families in Syria, where they can support the war economy, and be forced to become soldiers and or terrorists. ISIS needs their population, and plenty of out of work young men. For the world to help them escape ISIS, we are depriving ISIS of these people and protecting them, as long as we don’t so mistreat these refugees, as to turn all the young men into future terrorists.