Chemical Weapons Attack on Idlib: Why Questions Need to Be Asked

Source: Chemical Weapons Attack on Idlib: Why Questions Need to Be Asked

The war in Syria, a complex, controversial, and oft-tragic conflict involving the government of President Bashar Assad, ISIS, and Islamic militias – both rebels and government defenders, of a wide range of militancy levels – and plenty of atrocities on various sides, continues apace. The most recent major incident is a chemical-weapons attack, apparently utilizing nerve gas, in the embattled Idlib Province, which has been widely blamed on government forces by the mainstream media.

This essay gives us some reasons to hesitate before accepting this account uncritically:

The footage of men, women, and children in paroxysms of agony in the wake of a chemical weapons attack near the town of Khan Shaykhun in Idlib province, should make even the most hardened among us to weep. Such human suffering obliges us to question the very premise upon which we like to consider our world as advanced or civilized.

And it is precisely because of this that when we are witness to such an ontological breakdown in humanity that we must resist the pressure to accept the officially prescribed narrative of responsibility at face value… for pro-government forces to carry out such an attack at this time would constitute an act of political and diplomatic self-harm of near-historic proportions. […]

The Syrian government did not deny that it carried [out] an airstrike in Idlib around the same time footage emerged of such unconscionable human suffering. Their explanation is that they bombed a weapons depot close to the town in which Salafi-jihadi groups were storing chemical weapons. Confirmation that such groups are in possession of chemical weapons came in 2013 from UN special investigator Carla del Ponte, based on a UN investigation carried out concerning previous allegations of their use.

It is true that this account appears on the pro-Russian “Sputnik News” site, and the Russian Federation is a close ally of Syrian President Assad. However, some degree of bias is a fact of life in news reporting, especially in our present age, and there is no more reason to automatically discount this article based on its source than there is to automatically and uncritically accept accounts by mainstream media which are generally (and sometimes reflexively) anti-Syrian and anti-Russian.

In the world in which we live, it is important to weigh the relative merits of various accounts, in the hope of arriving at a reasonable conclusion. That it would do little good, and indeed much harm, to the cause of the Syrian government to unleash a chemical attack at this time seems a logical conclusion. And that chemical agents were spread as the unintended outcome of an attack on a weapons depot (a logical military target) which may very well have contained such weapons seems, also, quite logical.

I’m not on the ground in Syria, and I have no special knowledge of the area. But in weighing the relative merits of a logical explanation versus a hysterical account by media sources known to be biased against both the Syrian government and their Russian backers, the weight of the probability seems to incline, to me, toward the Syrian account being the accurate one. Your mileage may vary…


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Is demonizing Putin and Russia a smart move? (Wow! Forum For 03-06-17 | Stately McDaniel Manor)

Source: Wow! Forum For 03-06-17 | Stately McDaniel Manor

I have heretofore been fairly intentional in trying to keep modern politics out of this blog, with only a few exceptions (Brexit being a major one, but that is very much in keeping with the “Anglophilic” aspect). I am beginning to question whether that position remains tenable.

We live in challenging times, politically, morally, economically, and socially. At present, this blog is my only real “voice” in that discussion (leaving Facebook aside, which I do for a variety of reasons, including that it’s such a chaotic cacophony of voices that it is hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, and also that FB posts have such a short shelf-life).

Therefore, you may be seeing an increase in posts with a political theme here – coming, of course, from the same generally conservative, traditionalist, and pro-British (and more generally, pro-European) perspective this blog has always held.

In any case: lots of good stuff in the linked post. The topic for the day is, “Is demonizing Putin and Russia a smart move?” Unsurprisingly, the contributors tend to agree that it’s not. As I say, quite a number of good points raised! But I am especially glad to see Mike McDaniel, author of the awesome blog “Stately McDaniel Manor” (if you don’t know it, you owe it to yourself to pay a visit), basically echo a point I have made before, in a number of fora:

“Speaking ill of the Russians is, mostly, a no-lose proposition for the Democrats. Sure, it’s insanely hypocritical for the party of Ted Kennedy, who actually sought the aid of the Soviets, an evil empire bent on the destruction of America, to help him sabotage Ronald Reagan. The same party’s presidential candidate, John Kerry, betrayed his fellow military members, and his picture hung, for decades, in the North Vietnamese war museum as a hero of the struggle against America. The dishonor role goes on and on, yet it is the same party now indignant that members of the Trump Administration may have had the slightest contact with the Russian Ambassador, a man whose job it is to have as much contact with Americans as possible.”

In other words, as I have pointed out, it’s the height of irony for a party – and in many cases, some of the same people (those who are still alive) – who appeased, accommodated, and apologized for the Soviet Union during the Cold War to suddenly be all up-in-arms over the Russian Federation now.

That does not mean that our interests will always be congruent with the Russians, or that we should not stand firm when they are not. It behooves us to be as friendly with Russia as is reasonable and prudent, without forgetting that the “Russian Bear” is called that for a reason. But it’s legitimate to wonder why global Communist hegemony was perfectly all right with the Democrats, but Russia actually having national interests of its own is not?

Putin congratulates Russians on Christmas

The Russian president noted the huge and unique role of the Russian Orthodox Church and other Christian denominations in reviving high moral values and preserving rich historic and cultural heritage

Source: TASS: Society & Culture – Putin congratulates Russians on Christmas

Wishing all our Eastern Orthodox Christian brothers and sisters, in Russia and elsewhere, a holy and blessed Feast of the Nativity!

And may I also express my fervent wish that the political and other elites of the Western world – in both Europe and America – placed a similarly high priority of “reviving high moral values and preserving rich historic and cultural heritage.”

Russia’s last Empress on Marriage and Family Life – Juicy Ecumenism

Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna offers profound words of wisdom on the twin subjects of Christian marriage and family life. Her reflections and counsel are all the more necessary in these times, for they call all Christian husbands and wives, mothers and fathers to embrace the true vocations of matrimony, marked by a shared life of selflessness and loving sacrifice.

Empress-Alexandra-1

Source: Russia’s last Empress on Marriage and Family Life – Juicy Ecumenism

True enough, this is Russian and Orthodox in focus, not British or Anglican! But that does not mean the wisdom and guidance provided by the last Tsarina is not just as worth heeding by good Christian folk of other churches, communions, and jurisdictions. Besides, Anglicans have traditionally had very good relations with Orthodox Christians, since both look to the Fathers and Doctors of the ancient and undivided Church of the first millennium.

And Christian marriage is under threat from many directions, in today’s highly secular culture: it does not hurt us at all to recall — and hopefully, model our own relationships after — the traditional, ideal form of holy matrimony, expressed so clearly and beautifully by Empress Alexandra, and described by my friend Ryan Hunter.