Apr. 7th, 2017

drwex: (pogo)
I'm trying to match up subscribes and access in Dreamwidth to keep things generally reciprocal. I'm happy to see more folk here, even if it's just a parked account. However, DW seems not to be keeping accurate track of what boxes I've checked. I'll keep on it and will appreciate help.

If you'd like to see stuff of mine and aren't, drop me a note. Likewise if there are things you post that are important and you want me to see please feel free to prod me toward them. I actually don't read DW/LJ much on weekends but that can be adjusted.
drwex: (Troll)
I support 45's decision to attack the Syrian airbase from which the chemical weapons strike was launched. Force is never right, but sometimes it is necessary.

A) I take as given, based on reporting from independent NGOs, medical professionals on the ground, and officials from multiple governments that:

1. Chemical weapons were used on a hospital, targeting unarmed civilians
2. When first responders rushed to aid the initial victims a second round of chemical bombs were dropped, striking the medical workers and civilian volunteers who were trying to aid the victims.
3. The weapons were launched by Syrian aircraft from the targeted base - they were seen on radar before, during, and after the attack.

I take as less certain, but do believe, that although a child killed by sarin gas is just as dead as a child killed by a barrel bomb, the reason chemical weapons were banned was because they are a qualitatively different type of assault than a so-called conventional weapon. Perfect would be to cease the murderous assault on civilians launched by the Assad and Putin regimes. The lack of a perfect solution should not dissuade us from taking action against a severe transgression of international norms.

B) I further believe that 45's act was illegal under US and international law. Congress has repeatedly refused even to debate authorization for military force, and the UN is logjammed by (among others) Russia, which I view as complicit in these crimes. So F them. It's possible that, if Congress had been willing to take up and debate a resolution on the use of military force, we as a country might have achieved further clarity in our policy around that multi-headed hydra of a war. Maybe the vote would have failed, in which case I would have opposed a President acting. But being unwilling even to put a resolution up for debate is an abdication of responsibility and unfortunately when Congress abdicates the other branches of government act. The perfect course of action is for the Executive to set out policy, the Legislative to debate and formulate that policy into law, and for there to be public clarity on both sides. As above, the perfect is the enemy of the good.

C) I believe, though with less conviction, that Obama's inaction and our lack of clear policy in regard to the war opened the door for Russian intervention and ultimately led to the escalation in civilian deaths we now see. I continue to be dismayed at how little we have done in the past five+ years to aid those victimized by the conflict. Our policy is unclear even in areas where I feel we would have great national consensus, such as funding healthcare, housing, food, and education for refugees living in neighboring countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan.

D) So what happens now? The first strike is easy - what comes after is the hard part. The Russians have threatened to beef up Syria's air defense system. If they do so, I would support strikes to take out those defenses. I would support strikes against every Syrian military airbase or aircraft. As I said above, these weapons have been used as part of a systematic campaign against unarmed civilians. Deprived of such weapons, Assad will still find ways to slaughter people, but they will be fewer and harder and it will remove Russian plausible deniability. The rebels have been asking for anti-air weapons for some time now; I'm not happy about putting more weaponry into a war zone but taking weapons off the map I might well support.

IF, and here's the really big IF the US can put together a coherent policy. I don't hold out a lot of hope here - Obama's team couldn't, and the current bunch of militarists and amateurs isn't likely to do better. History has not been kind to American interventions in foreign conflicts and we often regret things decades down the line. But the future is uncertain and it does the victims no good for us to hand-wring about far-future consequences while the bombs are raining down.

We live in an imperfect world and I would rather live in a world with an imperfect, but at least publicly articulated and debated, policy. Such a thing might make recurrences of the past couple days' events less likely.
drwex: (Troll)
April's going to be a crazy month and if I put off updating it'll be Too Much and I won't write it. So here's a bit of an update on what's been happening.

This week I drove in town three times in four night. Monday I went to a professional society talk at IBM Cambridge, which was OK. Good to know what people are doing.

Tuesday I met Pygment and I couple other folk at the hotel John Scalzi was staying at. We sipped Cokes and traded chit-chat with Scalzi and each other for about an hour before walking over to Brookline Booksmith for his reading and signing. I enjoy hanging with him - we swapped college-for-kids stories since our oldest is just a year behind Athena on that path, and how it is different for the kids from what he and we did when we applied.

Scalzi always reads something different than the book he's touring for and this was no exception. We were asked not to Internet-spoiler it so I'll just say it was an excerpt from a new work that I'm now quite looking forward to. Someone brought a ukulele so he played a song on that and told a story about himself and Krissy that was quite endearing, even if it did lead Pygment to poke me several times. I wanted to stay for the signing but as the line formed there was a press of more people getting more closer to me and I saw the claustrophobia about to set in so I bailed. Fortunately, Pygment and I had arrived in separate cars so she stood and got signatures and I went home after taking several deep breaths outside.

Then last night I headed back into Cambridge to meet up with my best cocktails buddy [personal profile] silentq. We had a plan to dine at Asgard and then head to a new place for cocktails. That was great right up until the heavens deluged the area just as we were finishing up food. Asgard was far too loud for catching-up conversations. We set out for what we thought was our intended target and ended up going the wrong way. Fortunately, Cambridge is chock full of interesting places and rather than try to backtrack in the downpour we adjusted plans to the new place, and took seats at their bar.

Sadly I forget the establishment's name, but the theme is very Spanish/Central American and on Mass Ave so easy to find again. Many of the staff spoke native Spanish (some with little or no English) and most of the drinks featured the bar's extensive collection of rums. I got something fruity, and silentq ended up with two drinks because the first one took forever to arrive and was made wrong. So they showed up with a free corrected drink unprompted. We passed on more food but did succumb to tasty desserts (flan and a dulce de leche thing that was entirely decadent).

Hanging with silentq is always fun, drinks or no. She's just back from her ski-and-Viking-death-metal vacation and... yeah, that's totally her and a thing that actually exists. My own stories pale by comparison and we have a good time catching each other up on life and relationships and families and houses and all the things.

The past weekend started Friday night with [personal profile] pygment(*) and I going out to dinner at Besito in the Burlington Mall. I was completely blown away by how good it was. I had a salmon with mole' and I cannot remember when I had a better-prepared piece of salmon. The entire meal was quite tasty - even the rice-and-beans were exceptional - and I ate too much. Definitely planning a return visit with anyone I can convince to come along.

Saturday I was wiped out so we stayed home and did house- and life-maintenance things and tried sleeping. You'd think after all these years I'd be better at it. But anyway. And on Sunday there was D&D and the party did not ALL die, but several bodies hit the floor in pretty rapid succession. We have yet to see the end of this fight but we're not going to be able to game for several weeks. So there's that.

(*) I've realized this is going to break for people whose names have changed between LJ and DW. Sorry about that.

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