Saturday: Of War, Fracking, and FukushimaPosted: September 7, 2013
Have you read Rosa Brooks’ “Obama Can’t Win“ in Foreign Policy magazine yet? If not, go read it now. Teaser:
Oddly, many in the media seem convinced that Obama’s pledge to seek congressional authorization for a Syria intervention was a clever gamble. It wasn’t. It was, to paraphrase Obama, a dumb gamble. That’s because there is now no good outcome for Obama, only a range of painfully ironic outcomes.
It’s an excellent read. Please take a moment to look it over.
Something interesting… note the title of the latest from FoPo’s David Rothkopf, “How the Loneliest Job in the World Got Even Lonelier,” (bylined “With his missteps on Syria, Obama has alienated just about everyone — friends and frenemies alike.”) Sounds a lot like Glen Ford’s bottom line over at Black Agenda Report… “Obama: As Warlike as Bush, and Just as Lonely.”
Cue The Onion:
Nation Throws Giant Temper Tantrum Upon Learning Syria Is Complex, Nuanced Issue
I have to tell you that what’s not helping sort any of this complexity or nuance is Kerry and Obama suddenly embracing action that will have the side effect of empowering the rebels…I can only take wild guesses as to what changed in the Administration’s assessment of the situation, because Assad gassing his own people doesn’t mean the rebels are suddenly the lesser evil. As the Onion points out in the news skit above, the Syria situation doesn’t fit neatly into a narrative of “the good guys” and “the bad guys.”
Along those lines, here is the first installment of Reader Supported News’ three part series on Syria: Where Revolution Goes Wrong.
A couple excerpts…
Independent journalist Anna Therese Day has spent considerable time in Syria, and last year authored a Shorty Award-nominated report for VICE Magazine called Gunrunning with the Free Syrian Army. In the report, Day accompanied an FSA colonel who defected from Assad’s army when the mass killings began. The colonel had two main complaints: that Western governments had abandoned the Syrian people in spite of mass genocide and brutal killings of protesters, and that because of the absence of help from Western governments, the Syrian people have had to depend on the military might of jihadists like the group Jabhat Al-Nusra. The jihadists fighting alongside the Free Syrian Army have the much different objective of establishing a theocratic Islamist government, whereas the FSA’s objectives are more along the lines of establishing a democratic and accountable secular government.
“Academic studies show empirically that civil resistance is more effective than armed resistance,” Day told me in a Skype interview from Madrid. “But it’s difficult to expect people to adhere to these ivory tower principles, even if in the long-term it will be more effective, when they are being attacked and need to defend to their families.”
Erica Chenoweth, an International Studies professor at the University of Denver, is author of the book “Why Civil Resistance Works.” In a February 2012 presentation at Dartmouth College, she explained how she was originally skeptical that nonviolence could accomplish major political goals, and decided to place very strict limits on which nonviolent campaigns she would credit with achieving major political goals. Chenoweth focused only on campaigns where there were more than 1,000 active participants using a majority of nonviolent tactics like boycotts, strikes, and street demonstrations over a small period of time. She also studied only nonviolent campaigns that were focused on achieving extremely difficult goals like regime change, removing an occupying military force, or seceding territory.
Chenoweth found that between 1900 and 2006, nonviolent campaigns were twice as effective as violent campaigns, and that in that time period, nonviolence became an increasingly effective strategy for achieving major victories, whereas violence became increasingly ineffective. Chenoweth’s research on violent campaigns found that their strategy was limited to simply getting as many people with as many weapons as possible and challenging the state head-on through either direct warfare or guerrilla tactics like sabotage and assassinations. Chenoweth’s research found that for a violent campaign to be effective at either ousting a regime or removing an occupying military force, it had to wage a long-term struggle against the state with the aforementioned tactics to corrode the state’s ability to assert power over the people, and it had to sustain its efforts over a long period of time. Because the state has a monopoly on violence, with more resources at its disposal, those violent campaigns had a very small rate of success.
However, Chenoweth discovered that nonviolent campaigns, with the various tactics at their disposal, were much more successful. They could attact a vast multitude of diverse people, and so were able to sustain a long campaign aimed at accomplishing specific strategic goals. Nonviolence succeeded where violence didn’t: the OTPOR movement’s ousting of Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia; the Arab Spring’s ousting of Ben Ali in Tunisia. A nonviolent campaign can use leverage to remove all pillars of support for an oppressive regime or an occupying military force.
This first installment ends on a rather chilling note (well, I found it chilling at least) from the journalist mentioned above — Anna Therese Day:
Regardless of whether or not the US chooses to intervene with either humanitarian aid or airstrikes, Anna Day says that the Assad regime is likely to win out against the violent campaign to oust him. She says she’s troubled by the Obama administration’s unilateral plans for intervention, and other plans that have been discussed to arm rebels with more sophisticated weaponry.
“Assad controls most of the country and won back major key swaths in August, so this notion that he doesn’t have legitimacy anywhere simply isn’t true,” Day said. “It’s debatable if the rebels – not the cause of the Revolution, but the rag-tag leadership of the armed resistance – have any legitimacy at all, even among anti-Assad civilian elements.”
I don’t know how to pivot from that gracefully to a more uplifting story, so… how about we go even deeper in Debbie downer territory with some… ‘fracking confirmation.’
Confirmed: Fracking practices to blame for Ohio earthquakes. From the NBC News Science link:
Before January 2011, Youngstown, Ohio, which is located on the Marcellus Shale, had never experienced an earthquake, at least not since researchers began observations in 1776. However, in December 2010, the Northstar 1 injection well came online to pump wastewater from fracking projects in Pennsylvania into storage deep underground. In the year that followed, seismometers in and around Youngstown recorded 109 earthquakes, the strongest registering a magnitude-3.9 earthquake on Dec. 31, 2011. The well was shut down after the quake.
Scientists have known for decades that fracking and wastewater injection can trigger earthquakes. For instance, it appears linked with Oklahoma’s strongest recorded quake in 2011, as well as a rash of more than 180 minor tremors in Texas between Oct. 30, 2008, and May 31, 2009.
The new investigation of the Youngstown earthquakes, detailed in the July issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters, reveals that their onset, end and even temporary dips in activity were apparently all tied to activity at the Northstar 1 well.
Well, gee, isn’t that swell. Say… Anyone care for the latest on Fukushima?
South Korea has banned all fisheries imports from eight Japanese prefectures, amid concern over leaks of radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.
A spokesman said the measure was due to “sharply increased” public concern about the flow of contaminated water into the sea.
The ban, an expansion of existing restrictions, takes effect on Monday.
Meanwhile via CNN, Fukushima: The long road home after 2011 disaster. From the link:
More than a year ago, the workers here wore full protection suits, today they simply wear gloves and the basic face masks you can see anywhere in Japan — a sign that the radiation level here has dropped.
Thousands of industrial-size black bags hold the contaminated soil. They are lined up in fields, waiting for their final resting place — wherever that may be. This is a reminder that the problem of what to do with radioactive water at the crippled Fukushima plant is not the only storage issue this country has to deal with.
During the day, the steady volume of traffic in this outer part of the exclusion zone belies the invisible threat that still exists. It’s a threat that two-and-a-half years later has residents wondering when, or even if, they will be able to move back home.
I’m sorry to have such a depressing roundup for you this Saturday. What can I say. It’s almost September 11th, and we’re on the precipice of another possible war. It wouldn’t be a relevant roundup if it weren’t depressing.
But, you know me. Still hoping against hope! So, here’s my feminist treat for you before I go. The latest ‘Blurred’ parody by some outstanding law students in Auckland, NZ… my favorite so far, by far:
Alright, Sky Dancers. Let’s hear it in the comments. And, have a great weekend!