Sunday, 26 February 2012

An education...visiting Israel (and West Bank)

I've just arrived in Jerusalem on BICOM's (the Britain-Israel Communication & Research Centre) first 'new media' delegation. I hope to blog about my experiences while I'm out here, but in all likelihood, our packed, informative programme (which takes in a visit to the West Bank) will mean I'll end up tweeting at the end of the day @JohnSlinger. Having studied Middle Eastern politics at BA and MA level, I can honestly say I feel ignorant of the reality and subtleties of the issues pertaining to domestic Israeli politics, to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the wider regional geopolitical and strategic issues. What's apparent, even in a few hours, is that opinions formed from the relative calm of London, or of academic seminars (vital and informative as mine were) can sometimes over-simplify matters. I am open-minded and fascinated to learn more about this regain and am very grateful and feel privileged to be offered this opportunity by BICOM. If I have anything original to say at the end of our visit, I'll say it. If you're reading, I'd welcome any feedback, exchange and debate, as ever. i'm particularly interested to learn about the role of social media in this region. And anything particularly insightful I'll share here on this blog.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The Times publishes my letter on Syria post-death of Marie Colvin and colleague

Published online in The Times here (Thursday 23 February 2012)

Time for leadership 

The leaders of Western nations must show the same bravery and moral vision displayed by the journalists recently killed in Homs


On the day that we read the superlative reporting of your journalist Tom Coghlan (“Syria slays its children”, Feb 22) we learn that the Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin has been killed in Homs.

Your readers may care to reflect on her words (recorded on February 21 and reported by the BBC), having just witnessed a two-year-old child die of shrapnel wounds: “No one here can understand how the international community can let this happen.”

Rather than express concern and issue platitudinous denunciations of the Syrian dictatorship, the leaders of Western and other civilised nations must show the same bravery and moral vision displayed by these journalists. Inaction in the face of such savagery is indefensible and is in itself a form of action leading to indirect moral culpability when innocents die. Let us hope that the work of journalists to shine a light into the pit of evil will shame our leaders into action.

John Slinger

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

My letter on Syria published in The Times

Published here in The Times:

We should not conflate legality with morality unless we are prepared to witness another Rwanda or Bosnia

The full-scale military assault on Homs being perpetrated by the Assad regime is precisely the kind of outrage that the West claimed justified its intervention in Libya (News, Feb 6). As this illegitimate, brutal dictatorship perpetrates crimes against humanity on an industrial scale in an attempt to snuff out the pro-democracy movement, we are seeing writ large the predictable and tragic limits of the so-called “Cameron-Sarkozy Doctrine”.
To predicate intervention on a precise set of criteria such as the support of the neighbouring countries and regional political bodies, that there be an authorising Security Council resolution and that no ground troops be deployed, is to leave civilised countries impotent, left blustering and issuing edicts about economic sanctions as brave, innocent believers in freedom are slaughtered.
Tony Blair was pilloried for his foreign interventions, yet he at least had the honesty to do what he thought was right, and refused to be bound by the false “morality” of those who regard the UN Security Council as the ultimate arbiter of the morality of international relations. International “legality” must not be conflated with morality, lest we allow the innocent of Syria to join those of Rwanda, Bosnia and countless other examples where the powerful “legally” stood by, in the face of immorality on a huge scale.
John Slinger
Rugby, Warks