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Monday, May 28, 2012

The massacre at Houla and the massacre at Itamar

On Saturday, in the Syrian town of Houla, 108 people were murdered by forces belonging to President Assad (although he is trying to blame al-Qaeda), including 32 children.

Here is part of an interesting blog piece discussing the massacre on the New Yorker's website.
In Houla, the videos show that some of the civilian victims—with pieces of their bodies missing—were probably nonspecific, by which I mean that, as in all wars, they were simply killed because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the men who pressed the “fire” buttons on the artillery piece, or on the tank that fired the shells that ripped them apart, meant them no specific harm, per se, as individuals. Others, though, seem to show the telltale traces of up-close murders—the result of guns pressed against people’s heads and fired, and of knives drawn deeply across throats.

These latter victims, who include some of Houla’s dead children, are the most troubling of the deaths that are occurring in Syria today. They raise the question of whether there is any kind of peace plan, at this point, that is viable, at least in the minds of the actors in the conflict. That is why Houla is such a watershed event (and why the regime is claiming it is a set-up, to make it look bad).

In this kind of a war, which involves one community—the minority Alawites, who rule the country, and fear extinction at the hands of the much more sizeable Sunni community (including residents of Houla)—the killers just keep on doing their work, whatever their politicians say.

Ban Ki-moon has said that there is no U.N. “Plan B” in Syria. Plan A, to sum it up roughly, relies upon goodwill and a change of heart on the part of the Assad regime and the rebels fighting it. The thing is: What does one do when men become capable of cutting the throat of a small child?
Indeed, what does one do when men become capable of slashing the throat of a small child? For example, what does one do when men become capable of slashing the throat of a three-month old baby? Goodwill and change don't seem likely, do they?

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