2013-05-23 / Letters/Opinion

Criticizing A Critic

Dear Editor,

In Jonathan Gies’ letter to the editor of last week, he made several criticisms of my article, ‘President Assad is Killing His Own People’ which require a response.

First of all, Mr. Gies is correct in stating that the protest started with unarmed uprisings throughout Syria. These protests were met originally with largely — not entirely, but largely — non-lethal responses, i.e. water cannons, tear gas, etc. Were there occasional shootings of unarmed civilians? Yes, occasionally there were, and my article does not defend this.

In July of 2011, however, the protest took on an entirely new character with the formation of the Free Syrian Army, which was subsequently joined by other groups. At this point, the protest became an armed revolt and the killing, on both sides, began in earnest. This was the focus of my article, which I thought was fairly clear.

I made the point that no government would ever stand by and allow an armed revolt to go unchallenged and I stand by that statement. Can anyone think of an exception? I even drew a parallel with our own American Civil War.

Note that the South had originally wanted a peaceful succession (interestingly, no one was killed by the actual bombardment of Fort Sumter) but Lincoln would not allow this and began the war, which eventually took over 800,000 American lives, ten times the total in Syria so far. For those who insist that this was a ‘moral’ war to end slavery, please keep in mind that Lincoln said many times that he had no intention of ending slavery and would accept this practice if it would ‘preserve the union.’

I’m not sure why Mr. Gies finds the above ‘offensive,’ ‘shameful,’ or being an ‘apologist’ for Bashar Assad, etc. Assad is clearly a dictator and, as a Libertarian, I do not advocate dictatorship or anything resembling one.

Which brings us to the last point of my article: Is Assad’s being a dictator sufficient justification for American involvement? I do not believe so and began listing some of the other dictatorships in the world to point out that we’d have quite a job if we decide to embark on this course. (Incidentally, Belarus, being known as the ‘last true dictatorship in Europe’ and headed by the dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, is very much a dictatorship. Mr. Gies is correct, however, in his assertion that Botswana is not. Sorry, my mistake, and I thank Mr. Gies for pointing it out. Please substitute Sudan, North Korea, Cuba, etc.)

And, yes, Mr. Gies, I understand that Albany is not a true dictatorship. That was a joke. Anybody who reads the papers will realize that Albany is actually a...swamp.

Dr. Stephen Finger

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