Mission Accomplished? Readers Responses

Responses from Phyllis Bennis, David McReynolds and David Worley to Danny Postel's Critique of the Anti-War Movementhttp://www.thenation.com/blog/175928/moral-obscenities-syria [1]    (in the Nation)

http://www.ips-dc.org/articles/joint_statement_jackson_bennis_syria [1] (with Jesse Jackson)

http://www.ips-dc.org/articles/talking_points_why_we_shouldnt_attack_syria [1] (talking points on why not attack Syria & alternatives to military strikes)

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=10632 [2] (why there is no military solution & what alternatives might be)

http://www.democracynow.org/2013/8/28/as_strikes_on_syria_loom_is [2] (Democracy Now interview on what diplomatic alternatives the US is ignoring)

Sorry to personalize my problem with Danny's article, but by selectively quoting only my opposition to US military force, & ignoring everything I wrote about what else SHOULD happen, it's a complete distortion of my position and my work.  Ironically, Danny does cite several other organizations I work very closely with – Peace Action & AFSC among them – for doing the right thing, calling for alternatives.  But he completely ignores my work on that, even invoking the name of my close comrade at IPS Saul Landau, a giant of our movement who passed away two weeks ago, as being a "real" internationalist, while pointing with clear disdain to my IPS project's use of "internationalism" in its name.

The result is a real distortion of the truth.  Danny Postel may have his own ideas about what alternatives to military strikes would be most appropriate, they may well be different than the ones I and so many others have proposed.  But to claim that we don't propose anything beyond stopping airstrikes is completely dishonest.

Below, for those interested, is the most recent iteration of the set of alternatives a number of our organizations are pushing (including Peace Action, FCNL, Just Foreign Policy, and a bunch more including IPS).

Phyllis Bennis [3]


1.    The U.S. should, first, do no harm. Stand against any U.S. military strikes or any further military intervention in Syria. Support UN decision-making, international law and diplomacy instead of military force.

2.   The U.S. should call for an immediate ceasefire by all sides and a comprehensive international arms embargo.  Announce plans to stop sending or facilitating any arms to rebel forces or allowing U.S. allies to do so, and urge Russia and Iran to stop sending any arms to the Syrian government.

3.   The U.S. should immediately re-open plans with Russia for international diplomatic negotiations towards a political solution in Syria. The talks must include all sides in Syria, including non-violent Syrian civil society, and representatives of Syrian, Palestinian, and other refugees and IDPs forced from their homes in Syria. All key parties to the conflict, including Iran, should be included. The U.S. team should support plans to insure that the settlement provide protection for all communities in Syria and the return of refugees, and not exclude whole categories of people who may have served in the government, the army, or armed opposition militias. The U.S. should also support efforts towards accountability and justice for all war crimes that have been committed in the Syrian war.

4.   The U.S. should announce a major increase in refugee and humanitarian assistance coordinated through the United Nations, and call on other countries to increase aid and coordinate through the UN.

5.   The U.S. should support the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons to lead and oversee the transfer of chemical weapons to international control so they may be safely destroyed or removed. The U.S. should support further disarmament efforts by endorsing calls for a Weapons of Mass Destruction-Free Zone throughout the Middle East, with no exceptions.

6.  The U.S. should use the opportunity of Syria negotiations, along with the recent shifts in internal Iranian politics, to reopen broad negotiations with Iran over all the issues of concern to both Tehran and Washington.

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