Adonis Diaries

Archive for May 31st, 2013

A quick recollection: Rodeo girl

Out of the blues, I recalled a sweet event. It was my first trip out of home in the summer of 1975.

After a 2-week stay in Paris that I spent alone, wondering the streets and learning to take the metro around, I ended up in Norman, Oklahoma.

I wrote with some details about my experience as a student at the University of Oklahoma in my autobiography.

The “English as foreign language” troop was given a taste of English by visiting an open-air rodeo in a small town.

This visit could have been in mid-August.  All these blue, red, white shirts and vests, studded with stars and stripes, were coloring the arena and stands.

For the first time in my life I saw this amazon beautiful young girl mounting a horse, a large black hat on the head, in a short white skirt, as worn by cheerleaders…

She was participating in the rodeo. And I made a spontaneous action of meeting with this simple and charming girl.

Spontaneous actions to meet with people, particularly girls, are very common among tourists, or people still feeling they are strangers in a country.

I have this strong feeling that I took a picture with this female God-like creation.  Was it one of the students who took the picture? I have no such a picture in my file of ” The Good Moments in my Life

So many delicious and happy opportunities of rare wonderful mirages that we live and forget.  I badly need a copy of that encounter of the Seventh Kind.

What an event, what a girl, what an apparition, what an occasion, what a day of hope in a better life

On the plane to Oklahoma, after a 22-hour flight, exhausted, unsure where I am going, of what I am doing… in the last hour before landing, shortly before midnight, all passengers sleeping, a beautiful young blonde stewardess felt compassion for this serene lost-looking guy, numb at the magnitude of the unknown, and she offered me a glass of orange juice, fetched me a pillow and a blanket and this hope that it is good people that count anywhere you land

Has The Syrian Revolution lost it cause? Supported by all these absolute monarchies and colonial powers?

What went wrong with the initially valid causes for the Syrian uprising? Where did insurgents go wrong? How did a once inspirational and noble popular uprising calling for freedom and basic human rights degenerate into an orgy of bloodthirsty sectarian violence, with depravity unfit for even animals?

Was it inevitable and wholly unavoidable, or did it not have to be this way?

I posted more than two dozen articles on the Syria and the current upheaval, and it is refreshing to read Edward Dark‘s article.

Edward Dark, a pseudonym for a Syrian currently residing in Aleppo, posted for Al-Monitor on May 28.

The simple answer to the above question is the miscalculation (or was it planned?) of Syrians taking up arms against their regime, a ruthless military dictatorship, held together by nepotism and clan and sectarian loyalties for 40 years of absolute power.

Former US ambassador to Syria Robert Ford specifically warned about this in his infamous visit to Hama in the summer of 2011, just as the city was in the grip of massive anti-regime protests and before it was stormed by the Syrian army. That warning fell on deaf ears, whether by design or accident, and we have only ourselves to blame.

Western and global inaction or not, we are solely responsible for our broken nation at the end of the day.

Nietzsche once said, “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.” (The same is true when your objective is the end goal and you totally neglect how to treat people in the process…)

That has proved to be very prophetic in the Syrian scenario.  Away from all the agendas, whitewashing, propaganda, and outright lies of the global media stations, what we saw on the ground when the rebel fighters entered Aleppo was a far different reality. It hit home hard. It was a shock, especially to those of us who had supported and believed in the uprising all along. It was the ultimate betrayal.

To us, a rebel fighting against tyranny doesn’t commit the same sort of crimes as the regime he’s supposed to be fighting against.

The revolutionary rebel doesn’t loot the homes, businesses and communities of the people he’s supposed to be fighting for.

Yet, as the weeks went by in Aleppo, it became increasingly clear that this was exactly what was happening.

Rebels would systematically loot the neighborhoods they entered. They had very little regard for the lives and property of the people, and would even kidnap for ransom and execute anyone they pleased with little recourse to any form of judicial process.

The Syrian rebels would deliberately vandalize and destroy ancient and historical landmarks and icons of the city.

They would strip factories and industrial zones bare, even down to the electrical wiring, hauling their loot of expensive industrial machinery and infrastructure off across the border to Turkey to be sold at a fraction of its price. Shopping malls were emptied, warehouses, too.

They stole the grain in storage silos, creating a crisis and a sharp rise in staple food costs.

They would incessantly shell residential civilian neighborhoods under regime control with mortars, rocket fire and car bombs, causing death and injury to countless innocent people, their snipers routinely killing in cold blood unsuspecting passersby. As a consequence, tens of thousands became destitute and homeless in this once bustling, thriving and rich commercial metropolis.

But why was this so? Why were they doing it?

It became apparent soon enough, that it was simply a case of us versus them. They were the underprivileged rural class who took up arms and stormed the city, and they were out for revenge against the perceived injustices of years past.

The motivation of this rebel wasn’t like ours, it was not to seek freedom, democracy or justice for the entire nation, it was simply unbridled hatred and vengeance for themselves.

Extremist and sectarian in nature, they made no secret that they thought us city folk in Aleppo, all of us, regime stooges and sympathizers, and that our lives and property were forfeit as far as they were concerned.

Rebel profiteer warlords soon became household names, their penchant for looting and spreading terror among the populace inducing far more bitterness and bile than what was felt against the regime and its forces.

Add to that terrible fray, the extremist Islamists and their open association with Al-Qaeda (Takfiriyeen) and their horrific plans for the future of our nation, and you can guess what the atmosphere over here felt like: a stifling primordial fear, a mixture of terror and despair.

So who was “us,” and why did we feel that we were any different or better?

By “us” I mean, and at the risk of sounding rather elitist, the civil grassroots opposition movement in Aleppo, who for months were organizing peaceful protests and handing out aid at considerable danger and risk to our own lives.

“We” truly believed in the higher ideals of social and political change, and tried to emulate them.

We tried to model ourselves on the civil rights movement of the US in the 1960s, Mandela’s struggle against apartheid, and the teachings of Gandhi: precisely what similar civil movements in other Arab Spring countries such as Tunisia and Egypt had done before.

For “us,” a revolution was a slow, deliberate and committed struggle for change.

Like water drops repeatedly beating down on a boulder, eventually we would break it.

But for “them,” (particularly the foreign takfir mercenaries), their idea of change was throwing a ton of TNT at that boulder and having it, and everything around it, blown to smithereens. “We,” well, we mostly came from the educated urban middle class of the city.

We came from all walks of life, all sects and all areas, and we didn’t care.

We never asked where that guy or girl was from or what they worshiped. Each one of us gave and contributed what we could, in the capacity we could.

The leader of our group was a young Christian lawyer, a very active and dedicated young woman. The rest of the volunteers in our group were a microcosm of Syrian society; veiled girls, Shiite boys, rich kids and poor working class all working together for ideals we strongly shared and believed in.

Over the course of our activist work, some of our group were jailed and injured, one was killed. That is why it never hit home so hard, and never have I felt as sad as when, shortly after Aleppo was raided by the rebels, I received messages from some of those people I used to work with. One said, “How could we have been so stupid? We were betrayed!” and another said, “Tell your children someday that we once had a beautiful country, but we destroyed it because of our ignorance and hatred.”

It was around about that time that I gave up on the revolution, such as it had become, and saw that the only way to Syria’s salvation was through reconciliation and a renunciation of violence. Many felt this way, too.

Unfortunately, that is not a view shared by the warmongers and power brokers who still think that more Syrian blood should be spilled to appease the insatiable appetites of their sordid aspirations.

Even as activists, intellectuals, businessmen, doctors and skilled professionals fled the city in droves, others remained and still tried to organize civil action in the form of providing aid and relief work to the countless thousands of families that were now internally displaced inside their own city in desperate conditions. But it was clear that it was becoming futile. Everything had changed; it would never be the same again.

This is what it has come down to in Syria:

It’s us versus them everywhere you go. Opposition versus regime, secular versus Islamist, Sunni versus Shiite, peaceful versus armed, city versus rural, and in all of that cacophony the voice of reason is sure to be drowned out. Whatever is left of Syria at the end will be carved out between the wolves and vultures that fought over its bleeding and dying corpse, leaving us, the Syrian people to pick up the shattered pieces of our nation and our futures.

Do we have recourse to blame anyone but ourselves for this? Was this our destiny, or the cruel machinations of evil men?

Perhaps a future generation of Syrians will be able to answer that question.

Edward Dark tweets at @edwardedark.

Reactions of world leaders to Pearl Harbor attack by Imperialist Japan on Dec. 7, 1941?

On Dec. 7, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor (Hawaii) and destroyed half the US naval fleet. The two airplane carriers Lexington and Enterprise were saved: They were transporting airplanes to the islands of Guam, Wake and Midway. Admiral Kimmel decided that the fleet would be safer in Hawaii. since the plane carriers were not able to cover their movements.

All these countries had efficient decoding means of secret messages and orders, and Japan knew that the US has decided to protect its colonies in the Far East, particularly the Philippines, and to check Japan’s territory expansion.

The US had started in earnest, even before WWII started, to relocate many navy shipbuilding facilities to the west coast, particularly in Los Angeles.

Four weeks ago, Germany encouraged Japan to declare war on the US as it evaluated that Roosevelt is doing his best to fail all negotiations.

1. Churchill was following the development on the Russian front and harassing the British generals in Libya: “You are not audacious enough to engage Rommel…”.

This morning, after hearing the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Churchill is hopping like a kid and wants to immediately be connected to Roosevelt.

Sure,  the Russians are inflicting 95% of all German casualties, but the US engagement in the war is a definite victory. Churchill is behaving years younger: “The destiny of Nazi Germany is now sealed, and Mussolini is done with. Japan will be reduced to dust…”

Churchill is already viewing himself as the pivot of the Great Alliance.  De Gaulle beg to differ: Churchill will be at the beck of Roosevelt who will barely suffer Churchill’s decisions.

Churchill set sail on Dec. 12 to meet with Roosevelt: His strategy is to convince Roosevelt that the primary enemy is still Germany, and the Atlantic Ocean the main battlefield

2. Stalin does not show his jubilation and deep relief.  His is anxious that the US military supplies will now be delayed in order to check Japan’s expansion in the Pacific. Stalin wants also to remind Roosevelt that Germany is the main enemy., and is harassing England to open a second front in the Balkans or in France to give Russia a breathing space…

3. De Gaulle learns the news on the radio in his British house of Ellesmere.  He is saying to Dewavrin (nicknamed Passy): “Now the war is definitely won. The future is preparing two phases:

1.  How to save Germany after the war by the allies, and

2. A potential global war between the US and the Soviet Union.  The US might be defeated in that challenge if it fails to take the necessary timely measures.

4. Mussolini was ecstatic this time around: The invasion of Russia however disturbed Mussolini greatly, especially that Hitler warned him only half an hour before the incursion. Mussolini had said then: “I wish this time that the Russian would give him a good lesson. I should be fortifying the Italian borders against the inevitable German occupation of Italy. But it is too late: When among the wolves, all you can do is howl like them…”

Note: Extracts from the French book “1941: The world catches fire” by Max Gallo


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

May 2013
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