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Thursday, 23 February 2012


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It makes you wonder:

What is so different between Syria and Libya? Why did UN and other interested parties intervene in Libya and not in Syria?

Hmmm maybe oil has something to do with this?

"I wonder if you can imagine just for a moment that the U.S. Army had set up its field guns around Jacksonville, Florida or Columbus, Ohio, or El Paso, Texas (all about the size of Homs) and began shelling mercilessly."

That's exactly what Sherman did to Atlanta in 1864.

I wonder if you can imagine just for a moment that the U.S. Army had set up its field guns around Jacksonville, Florida or Columbus, Ohio, or El Paso, Texas (all about the size of Homs) and began shelling mercilessly. And every citizen who tried to flee was at the mercy of hundreds of snipers.

VICKSBURG, MS, May-July, 1863

He's a swine alright, a cowardly, chinless wonder. I really hope that their murders will be the tipping point, finally.

Let's remember Anthony Shadid as well.

I was looking over a week's worth of photos at Lens this weekend- and came to the same inevitable and depressing (re)conclusion... My god- when will this insanity ever stop?

That remarkable photo by Mr. Ochlik could've been taken in WWI, or any other of the countless wars we fight and kill each other over. When you come down to it, we're too insane to live on this planet. Perhaps, deep down we realize this- which is why we seem to take such relish in destroying it, and ourselves.

There's actually a bunch of political and military reasons Syria is different from Libya. The biggest one is that Russia and China support Syria (?!!).

Aside from the public outcry, what is the difference between these losses of life and Whitney Houston? (people to whom we can feel a connection).

Having said that, what upsets me is that their deaths will go largely unnoticed by the public. Even though they did their jobs to try to keep us informed about what the actual conditions are in the world.

May they rest in peace.

Sounds very bad, but still a ways away from Kissinger's orders to shoot everything that flies, everything that moves over in Vietnam. Nor as bad as invading Iraq and killing over 100,000 civilians. Not sure invading or bombing Syria would do its civilians any favors either. And why haven't we been making a fuss about Algeria, reportedly much worse... http://www.zcommunications.org/algeria-is-even-worse-than-syria-by-johan-galtung

Thinking about this some more, I don't mean at all to malign these two brave journalists in any way.

But why were they in Syria at all at this time? Don't we already know enough about what goes on there? It's not like we weren't aware of what a pathological government it's had for the past decades. Do we really know any more following the deaths of these two wonderful people than we did the day before they died?

Syria should have been declared "patria non grata", totally off-limits, for all civilized people months ago once word of young Assad's mass murders were well-known.

At the same time, certain world "leaders" should have quit talking and given young Assad an ultimatum, with a deadline, backed up by the will to use military force, to leave the country and take his thugs with him - or else.

Sadly you do not have to venture too far from home to find examples of such atrocities - or too far back in history to find them in your back yard.

Although US civilians were spared the horrors of aerial bombing in WW2, millions of civilians in sleepy Europe were wiped out by carpet bombing raids on their cities and even more as armies marched to and fro across the eastern front.

That war only ended 67 years ago. My father and mother survived numerous bombing raids and my mother even survived a strafing raid by a Stuka by diving into a drainage ditch.

Nor does the horror of such events, almost forgotten by the current generation, prevent smaller atrocities nearer to home, as proved by the murder of ten Turkish workers by a Neo Nazi gang in East Germany yesterday. Had the gang had access to artillery, I suspect the whole suburb would have been flattened.

Perhaps not the most important point to make, and apologies if it sounds glib, it isn't meant to, but that is a beautiful portrait.

Assad is indeed a bad man, as was his father -- Google "Hama Rules." But things are a good deal more complicated than that, I'm afraid. Assad is a member of the Alawite sect of Shiite Islam, a distinct minority in the overwhelmingly Sunni Syria. Because he's an Alawite, which many Sunnis regard as a heretical sect, he and his father have always sought to incorporate the support of other minorities in their governments -- notably, Christian Arabs, and mainline Shiites. Although we like to think of "dissidents" as being noble, my experience in the Middle East suggests that dissidents tend to be representatives of the out-of-power people, who, in power, will be no morally better than the people they replace. What will happen if the dissidents win this struggle? Well, it'll be pay-back time, and you may well see massacres of the minorities who support the Assad regime -- and there are millions of them -- the same way we now see anti-Copt violence in Egypt.

In addition, Iran (a fundamentalist Shiite state) supports both Assad and the Hezbollah (Party of God) in Lebanon -- the Hezbollah more or less controls Lebanon (at least the southern parts.) That Iranian aid to the Hezbollah mostly flows through Syria, and so the Hezbollah supports Assad. If the dissidents win...again, it'll be pay-back time. Very possibly, another civil war.

I really sometimes despair when I look at these situations. It's so bad that the decent people just keep their heads down and try to survive. But I'll suggest to you, that whatever happens, it's going to get much, much uglier, with hardly any prospect for a light at the end of it.

Somewhat as people lionize soldiers who give their lives defending their country (lets set aside our individual opinions about what US soldiers have done lately, eh? It's an example of what lots of people do do, I'm sure we've all seen it), journalists who give their lives getting the facts seem to me to deserve some special extra praise. Their lives are not worth more, but their choice of how to use them is important and should be acknowledged.

Before you rush to judgement you may wish to read the report of the League of Arab States Observer Mission to Syria. This mission was undertaken by observors from a number of arab countries; the report was dropped like a hot potato as its findings ran counter to the popular myth on Syria.

You can find the report here:

The US Civil War was 150 years ago....

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." -- G. Santayana

"Those who obsess over the past are also condemned." -- Ctein

"But still, the ones that touch us are specific deaths, usually people to whom we can feel a connection, who we can differentiate as individuals."

And that, Mike, is why the death of Whitney Houston a few weeks ago became such news.

Actually, if you've been following the UN Security Council news, you'll know the major stumbling block to any concerted vote for international intervention has been Russia, exercising its veto (and IIRC China, to a certain extent). This despite an urgent plea by the Arab League for the international community to intervene. So... No, it's not about the oil.

The world will never have enough. The fight to defend the oppressed is never-ending and cannot be won. That's exactly why it is worth fighting. It appears that Marie Colvin knew that.


I think 'the world' has certainly had enough of this kind of violence. In the case of Syria, the question might be rephrased as follows:

When will the political elite in China and Russia decide that the cost of supporting Assad's use of cluster munitions, snipers, and torture on unarmed men, women & children -- yes, snipers are killing children in Homs -- outweighs the perceived benefits of blindly supporting the Assad regime.

Witness is the only word I can find, as a comfortable photographer in corporate work what I do is unimportant. People who witness with words,camera and film bring the worlds feet to the fire. I think it was the war photographer Don McCullin who said he also liked to photograph Landscapes in winter when everything was stripped away, I guess that is just like war.
I really have a problem with the words and images of goverments but not the free press.
I do pro bono work for press freedom trusts but it is not enough.

"One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic."

(Thanks for the quote, Stalin... if anyone proved this, you did!)

If every journalist left Syria Assad would be very happy.

In Colvin's own words. "Why we journalists must continue going to war despite the dangers".


The problems in Syria is a lot more complicated than the black-and-white situation it is being painted as being. What's happening there is no different than what happened in Libya -- opponents to a ruling regime, deemed undesirable to Western interest, are encouraged and funded by NGOs (who "champion democracy", of course) to take up arms and to rebel.

Essentially, a civil war is being instigated against Syria's government.

Media coverage in all instances has been shameful, to say the least. Every accusations by the rebels, which the West lionizes, is invariably treated as the gospel truth; everything that the regime under siege said was suspect and treated as if very likely spurious.

The Arab League report is a must read. The father of a good friend is a senior member of that mission to Syria. The situation is a lot more complicated than it appears. Too often, our government has gotten involved in foreign wars after a simplistic determination of who wears the white hats and who wears the black hats and hastily taking sides, resulting in too many unnecessary deaths, of our soldiers and their civilians.

Cultures and peoples can't be sized up like a characters in an old cowboy movie. Blood, tears and regret (or denial) are not infrequently the result of the overwhelming urge to do good with the barrel of a gun.

Whenever journalists die »in the line of duty«, the argument comes up that they did not need to be there after the basics were known, that it was, in a way, their own fault they died or got injured. I don't agree. They are the ones who force us to keep looking, who keep the world from making a mental checkmark next to some foreign country where humans commit atrocities against other humans, because »we basically know there's something going on, so, what's next?«. Our collective attention span is short. What we already have heard about keeps losing its impact, no matter how bad. We need the people who are brave enough to keep going there and make us look again and again.

This is a very sad day. Not just for the loss of Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik, but for all the people who continue to die by the hands of others. You question is when will the world have enough, and sometimes it feels like the answer is »never«.

That beautiful quiet portrait of Marie Colvin was taken by Bryan Adams in 2007. It is part of the National Portrait Gallery in London: http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw145766/Marie-Colvin

This was not a "good" death for a war photographer ... but maybe it was to be expected ... just too bad it was by the hand of Assads bombs ... he is by all means a very bad boy ...

I don't know, I kind of shake my head and think "what a waste". They knew they should not have been there, that they could have gotten killed. From what very little I have read about combat reporters and photogs they are not necessarily doing for altruistic reasons - it is an attraction to a deadly activity, an addiction if you will... Death by addiction - now were have I heard about that lately...

Striking contrast with the Whitney Houston story

This, less than a year after Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros. I am beginning to feel numb of grief at these deaths; feeling I should say something, yet being lost for words.

Rest in peace. Peace, perhaps something even more sorely needed for the living.

When you write like this, you have great power. Congratulations.

i had never heard of remi ochlik .until all of this terrible tragedy.to me remi and marie are nothing short of human saints.extremely brave and working from their hearts.i have looked at remi photos,he really brings home to us along with marie the sheer terror of war,where so many innocent humans are killed.to me they will always be unique special people.

The audio of Marie Colvin's last BBC interview, made the night before she died, can be heard here:

Thank you, Mike, for your thoughtful writing.

@ Ctein: "[T]he consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it." -- Robert E. Lee, letter to Lord Acton, 15 Dec. 1866

That sounds like current events, not an isolated incident from 150 years ago, to me.

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