An update on the Chemical Weapons in Syria

When it comes to Syria today we need dialogue. Those who have the courage to stand up and say, “there is another way” have become so important and are much needed at this time everywhere, most especially in the Syrian conflict. We must work for solutions that are in reality something more than a quick fix. We need to look at a long-term solution, rather than a short-term one. A great friend of mine, James Lynn from Northern Ireland, says, “Hatred only destroys the soul of the person who speaks it, for it has no permanent solution to offer.” We all need to be the voice of peace and reason, and keep the Syrian nation very much in our prayers.

So, as a precursor to peace, we need to understand the nature of the war we are facing. Clearly a line must be drawn when it comes to honour in war. And chemical weapons are dishonourable. Chemical weapons are much more widespread and utilised more frequently than the other two types of W.M.D.s. Among the most common chemical agents that have been deployed are G-series nerve gas (in particular, sarin), and mustard gas. Chemical weapons are indiscriminate. Children are particularly the hardest-hit from chemical weapon attacks as their bodies are more vulnerable. Numerous countries still have large stockpiles of chemical weapons despite the Chemical Weapons Convention, which required the destruction of stockpiles by 2012. Due to the Convention, 85% of the chemical weapon stockpiles across the world have been destroyed. This is significant progress, but a considerable number of production facilities and stockpiles remain.

Chemical weapons have been around a long time. The first to use chemical weapons in the Middle East were the British who employed them in the Second Battle of Gaza against the Turks in 1917. Since then they have been used repeatedly, most notably by Saddam Hussein against the Iranians from 1983 to 1988 and the Kurds from 1987 to 1988.

That the Syrian government has chemical weapons is without question. Their existence has been confirmed by the Syrians in oblique statements, most notably by onetime Syrian spokesman Jihad Makdissi who apparently lost his job over the remark.

Syria’s main chemical weapons base, though there are others nearby, was at the Safira base just to the East of Aleppo.

The Free Syrian Army destroyed the Safira base on 29th November 2012. The artillery base was utterly demolished but the nearby air defence base was fought over for some time. Safira was a sprawling military complex. However, the Islamist group Al Nusra joined the fight and by mid February 2013 the entire town had fallen into rebel hands.

Since when both extreme elements of the opposition and the government have used chemical weapons, the government moreso than the opposition but both parties have been culpable.

All of this does however highlight one issue. There is an acute need to promote the Chemical Weapons Convention in the Middle East today.  The are only five countries in the whole world which have either not signed and / or not ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention. They are: Egypt, Israel, North Korea, Palestine (and yes Palestine is entitled to sign), and South Sudan. They should all be brought onboard urgently.

Back to Syria

Meanwhile let’s come back to the issue of the use of chemical weapons in Syria in recent days. For background, the following timeline of events is drawn from an article by ‘Urayb ar-Rintawi in the Jordanian daily ad-Dustour. These are his words edited for clarity:

On February 18th, the Syrian army began a major Eastern Ghouta offensive via a concentrated artillery and aerial bombardment. And by early March, its units had succeeded in dividing up the Ghouta into different sectors and had recaptured many villages and towns.

The factions affiliated with the “Turkish/Qatari axis” concluded an agreement with Damascus sponsored by the Russian mediators. Thousands of Ahrar ash-Sham, Nusra, and Faylaq ar-Rahman fighters left to Idlib together with their families, and then the Syrian army entered ‘Arabin, Zamalka, and Jobar.

Jaysh ul Islam then denounced ‘the treason and treachery of our brothers-in-arms’ (those affiliated with Qatar and Turkey) who had left for Idlib. Jaysh ul Islam, which is affiliated with Saudi Arabia, could not find a safe haven.

Damascus then began a dialogue via Russian mediators aimed at clearing Douma of the remaining armed opposition giving them the choice of leaving or “settling their affairs” with the Syrian state, leading to an agreement that called for the evacuation of thousands of civilians and military personnel and allowing those who did not wish to “settle their affairs” to head to Jarabulus. This was the deal that came to be known as the ‘Ghouta-for-‘Afrin’ deal.

Convoys of buses then began to carry the armed elements and their families from Douma. In addition, more than 40 thousand civilians left via the Wafideen Gateway and were moved to “shelters provided by the Syrian government”.

Then a coup occurred inside Jayshul Islam. Its leaders who were engaged in the negotiations with Damascus and had reached an agreement with it were either killed or detained. Abu-Hammam al-Buweidani disappeared amidst rumors that he had surrendered to the Russian police, while Abu Qusay and Abu ‘Abderrahman Ka’ka took over the group’s leadership. Implementation of the agreement was suspended.

Next, the Syrian army launched a ruthless offensive on Douma, most of whose stages were broadcast live on air. It tightened the noose around Jayshul Islam’s neck.
Within three hours a chemical attack occurred.

The attack itself

Victims who survived report an odourless gas. This can only be Sarin. The other main gas used in Syria, Chlorine gas, is far from odourless. Some witnesses report a smell of chlorine but our impression is these are less credible accounts from people who were not actually exposed to the gas. Other symptoms are also Sarin specific. Particularly the pinpoint pupils of the dead. For links and fuller details so that you may examine this yourself if you wish, there are full supporting details on our first NCF blog entry on this subject which answers the question “Is this the aftermath of a chemical weapons attack?“. But you will need a strong stomach if you are going to examine all of the links we provide. Some among them are very harrowing. Note that Sarin gas has been extensively deployed before in the Damascus suburbs.

“Chlorine gas generally harms far more people than it kills because it requires comparatively high concentrations (nineteen thousand milligrams per cubic meter) and prolonged exposure to achieve lethal effect”. It is useful to terrorise rather than to kill. For example, to quote National Interest magazine’s excellent extensive report on the issue (we reach slightly different conclusions however), “A helicopter-delivered chlorine bombing in Zubdiya in eastern Aleppo on August 10, 2016, injured around seventy (including forty children) and killed four (including a mother and her two babies). In numerous other chlorine attacks, dozens have been injured, but deaths have numbered “only” in the single digits or even zero.”

Some of the videos relating to the current Douma attack imply that chlorine gas was used. For instance, extensive dousing with water is valuable in dealing with chlorine gas exposure, whereas the removal of clothing is considered an important step in dealing with exposure to Sarin. One repeatedly broadcast video shows the extensive dousing of children with water without the removal of clothing. But it is possible that in the panic in the aftermath of a bomb attack, standard tactics for chlorine were employed as people may not have been as familiar with standard practice for Sarin exposure. There is also a video of two yellow cylinders of the type only normally used to deliver compressed chlorine gas in Syrian government attacks. However, there are various reasons for regarding these as false. For example one of the cylinders is some distance from the blast hole in the roof through which it has supposedly fallen, resting on a bed and comparatively undamaged by the impact and / or blast to which it has been exposed (such cylinders are usually substantially damaged and sometimes blasted apart). In any case, the very high numbers of casualties and the nature of the victim reports make it clear, in our view, that chlorine gas was certainly not employed as the primary agent.

Culpability

There are a number of possibilities. We will make arbitrary assessments. We do so because we believe it is helpful for those that read this to have a benchmark opinion, which they can then use as an assessment against which to examine the available open source material for themselves and draw their own conclusions. This is inevitably just our own subjective report on the subject. The forthcoming OPCW report will not determine culpability. Even when the United Nations has sent in teams (and UN teams are generally less skilled than those of the OPCW) with the prime objective of determining culpability their reports have been less than satisfactory when it comes to providing conclusive evidence. We reiterate that this is because the government has not been the sole perpetrator of war crimes with chemical weapons in Syria. The more extreme elements of the Islamist opposition have sometimes done so, occasionally with a view to implicating the government through false flag incidents. And one of the most extreme opposition groups, Jaysh ul Islam, was present in Douma, a group that is so ruthless that it at one point held hostages in cages in Douma.

That said it must be stressed in all fairness that the Syrian government is usually the one culpable. The NCF does however have direct contacts within the ranks of the Syrian military and they deny culpability in this instance. Undoubtedly your reasonable response might be “they would wouldn’t they”.  We give percentage probabilities in an attempt to be helpful. Please note once again that this is an arbitrary assessment:

  1. This was done by the Syrian government: 80% probability.
  2. There was a Syrian government attack with chlorine gas and then Jaysh ul Islam itself released Sarin gas in order to implicate the Syrian government in a false flagged war crime: 5% possibility.
  3. That the Syrian government did not attack and this was an entirely false flag incident perpetrated by Jaysh ul Islam: 15% possibility.

What is needed now is not further military action but a concerted international effort to work for peace both at a second track and first track level that engages Russia, Iran, and the United States of America.

God bless Syria and all its people, and may his peace rest upon their shoulders.

William Morris, Secretary General, The Next Century Foundation

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Debating the Palestinians’ Right of Return

In this episode of The Debate, Press TV conducted an interview with Richard Becker, the author of ‘Palestine, Israel and the US Empire,’ from San Francisco, and William Morris, the Secretary-General of the Next Century Foundation, from London, to discuss the Palestinians’ right to return to their homes after the creation of Israel in 1948:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/03/29/556857/Palestinians-right-of-return

The Rape of the Seas may well continue to plague the South West:

I have been much troubled by the recent predatory interest in the British fishing waters by the EU. It seems to be a precursor to the renewal of the environmentally obscene practices being pursued in the continuing rape of the seas by the Common Fisheries Policy (which still insists on wastefully sending by-catch back into the sea as dead throw back).

I wrote to the Minister responsible, Michael Gove, on the subject, telling him if Teresa May goes for a form of hard Brexit that involves stepping out of the Common Fisheries Policy, then it could mean, over the longer term, a revival of Newlyn and Brixham’s fortunes as fishing ports. I felt that now is the time to lobby for an environmentally friendly fishing policy for Britain, with no take zones on the sand banks that are the fish breeding grounds, and limits on the size of boats that can work inshore, e.g. no fishing boats under ten metres inside ten miles. The present fishing policy with the throwing back of dead fish over quota is disheartening.

I think that in view of the recent statements from Europe, Michael Gove’s reply, which is not particularly encouraging when you read between the lines, might be worth sharing. It was sent to my London office address. It is below. The full text of my letter to the Minister is below that:

Gove letter page one and Gove letter page two

The original letter sent to The Right Honourable Michael Gove MP was dated 25 October 2017:

Dear Michael

I note your strong stance on the British fishing industry a propos of Brexit and that was what I wanted to send you a note about. I come from the South West where the fishing ports like Brixham, Newlyn and St Ives continue to limp along. They have been put through the mangle by the European Union and it has been harsh indeed.

I have been talking to some of the fishermen. There are two policies they might like imposed unilaterally by Britain, Brexit or no Brexit. They are:

  1. No take Zones to allow fish stocks to recover. These are there the pockets of sea around Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel, Lamlash Bay on the Isle of Arran and Flamborough Head in Yorkshire. Together they occupy a grand total of 0.01% of British waters. These are the country’s only “no take zones”: places in which fishing and other extractive activities are banned. Some fishermen in the South West would like no take zones extended to all the major sand banks. For example the Nash Bank in the Bristol Channel. I won’t attempt to list them as your department will know them. These are the fish breeding grounds. Protecting these would help so very much.
  2. Ten metres / ten miles. If boats over ten metres in length could be restricted to fishing outside the ten mile limit it would be sensational. On one or two occasions I have seen beam trawlers in Newlyn trawling illegally almost right into harbour. So some sort of enforcement would be needed ideally. But if all big boats were kept outside the ten mile limit it would make a great difference to our fish stocks.

Were these two measures undertaken in the context of Brexit we would no longer need a quota system in my view. They would make such a difference.

Just wanted to share the thought

Yours ever

William Morris LLD, Secretary General, The Next Century Foundation

 

As I see it

We live in a world subsumed in intolerance. A great morass, a swamp of distrust, clings at the ankles of almost all. Not you? Never you? I lunched this week with an affable Arabist and discussed the merits of democracy. “I’ve voted for everyone at one time or another,” I declared: “Green, Tory, Labour, UKIP, Liberal, the lot.” This wasn’t precisely true. I have never voted UKIP (the right-wing UK Independence Party) in all my born days. But I was trying to make a point.
“UKIP,” he said. “You voted UKIP?”
I nodded not wanting to be diverted from the pro-democracy point I was trying to make by my failure to be accurate.
“When? In a national election?”
I watched him contain his disapproval and then changed the subject. But politics was on the table now and his partner of many years chipped in. She was an ardent ‘Remainer’ and was consumed with a need to express her dislike for the vacillations of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. “Why won’t he stand up as ‘Remain’?” she opined. Then, shifting 180 degrees, she added that migration was out of control and something must be done to stop it.
There are red lines for the liberal elite; Trump and Brexit, to name but two. But the liberal elite are flat out of credibility and consume their days in grumps about the proletariat sheep because of whom Trump and Brexit garnered traction.
Trouble is that the proletariat had their own prejudice after years of being taken for granted. What comes around goes around.
Amina, a friend of mine whose parents hail from Somalia, was profoundly hurt when a bus driver railed at her for wearing a headscarf when emotions were running high in the days after the London Bridge attack. Islamophobia has reached new heights in the West and there’s little sign of the phenomena diminishing.
Some prejudices are dying out thank God. None but the few hate gays these days. That’s a plus. And women are better respected than the arcane mores of bible believing religiosity would allow. The old ‘woman-serves-man-serves-God’ mantra is less in evidence than ever. So much so that an aging cabinet minister had to resign because he put his hand on a young girl’s knee. But then prejudice comes in many forms and we are a very intolerant generation.
And ways forward? I am much taken with the old Moral Re-Armament mantra that change begins with yourself. One of my personal teachers is the head of one of the four great schools of Sufi Islam, the Safavids. He suggests: “Don’t consider yourself better than others. Accept and tolerate difference. Foster a personal approach to society based on love. Peace, love and dialogue are all that matters.”
Not that any of us are perfect. You should hear him talk of America and even he loses his cool.
The way he would have it, our spiritual lives are like a journey on a train, with many stations along the way until we reach our ultimate goal which is to annihilate the self in God, serving God’s purpose utterly rather than serving ourselves. Worth a try maybe. Making serving God’s will our central dispensation has to be a plus, if only because it frees us from fear and much of the dross of daily life.
Which begs the question, “What is God’s will?”
Well, what is it? As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks would have it, does God want a world where we “Respect the difference, a multi-cultural world in which we all live together in harmony?
Or does God want a melting pot world in which we all churn out coffee coloured people? A world without borders and boundaries in which we stand one for all and all for one; the one world espoused by the great Lebanese mystic, Khalil Gibran?
Both actually is the answer. The multicultural world in which we all respect the other and beat swords into ploughshares is a step along the way to the world in which we churn out coffee coloured people and in which no one is a stranger.
But what will we get? Can you read the signs of the times? You can get a feeling for coming trends by watching the mood of the young. Two nations in which there is a seething anger amongst the young are Algeria and Egypt. At the Next Century Foundation (NCF) we have a counter-extremism Facebook page, ‘Al Khawatir’ (‘Reflections’) which at its best gets a following of a million a month, largely from Algeria. And it is nothing for a Facebook promoted for a couple of pounds in Cairo or Alexandria to garner six thousand likes and a couple of dozen shares. Try the same thing in London or Tel Aviv and there will scarcely be a ripple.
We deal with the Middle East at the NCF and specifically within the swathe of nations between Afghanistan in the East and Morocco in the West, and between Turkey in the North and Sudan in the South: Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Yemen, these are the places in which the young are most impassioned at present. But it is not all anti-establishment.
In Algeria and Libya, the passions of the young are vehemently against the established order. I know it first-hand. My friend and fellow traveller Ambassador Hambley from the USA well remember addressing the massed students at the University of Misrata. We sensed their seething discontent with their elders as the young men declared with a sneer, “We are the ones that bare our breasts to the bullets!” And yes, those were their exact words.
In Egypt the mood is different. Mixed. You are as likely to find yourself on the end of a pro-President Sisi diatribe as to witness anti-establishmentarianism.
In Iraq too there is a mixed mood though passions run very very high indeed.
And the Saudis, their young people that is, tend by and large to be vehemently pro Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman. But I don’t know whether you will find that disquieting or reassuring given the staggering misery caused by the Saudi war on Yemen with its Anglo-American backing. You know something? The Yemenis used not to be pro-Iran. But they certainly are now. We must be careful there. ‘Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind’ is an expression that comes to mind.
And the cure? All women and men of good heart should fight to counter the big divisions that are world-threatening. The division between America and Russia. The division between China and Japan. The division between Israel and the Palestinians. All of the above are troubling, threatening even to the peace of the world. But the most potentially dangerous of them all at this current point in time is the division between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
There are geopolitical reasons for our continued support for the Saudis. Oil being priced in dollars was once a factor. As was fear of the consequences of the crucible of Islam becoming a crucible of true extremism should that government ever fall. But the anger with the Saudis on the part of Iran and vice versa has gotten out of hand and we should know the risk of fanning the tinder. We did that in the Balkans at terrible cost. We need to cool things down in the Middle East. Less arms sales, less diatribe, and more dialogue from everyone has to be the starting point.
Not for our own sakes. We are wrinkly and on our way out. But we owe it to the vulnerable, to the youth of the next generation, to leave them a better heritage. And thus far we are not doing particularly well.

Discussion with Adel Darwish on Current News and Events

William Morris of the Next Century Foundation in discussion with Adel Darwish reviewing current news and events.

Is Parliament’s allocation of time and resources to alleged sexual harassment becoming blown out of all proportions? BBC stars threatening a Christmas walk out because those highly paid stars are made to pay tax like the rest of us; University Students being marked down when their essays suggest Brexit economic benefits; famous stars how much they make per-day? Bill Gates makes £7.1 while Theresa May only makes 400 quid. Do we burn Guy Fawkes on November 5th because he was Catholic or because he wanted to blow up Parliament?

 

On Power and Leadership, Love and Hope

British Prime Minister Theresa May continues to serve as a world leader out of a sense of duty. The 1922 Committee that controls the Conservative Party to which she owes her allegiance is frightened to allow her to fall on her sword. So a lame duck Premier limps on way past her sell-by date, an embarrassment to the nation at a critical time, with the Brexit negotiations collapsing around her ears.

Why is the 1922 Committee so very frightened? Evidently because the leader of the opposition, Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, is both charismatic and effective. The Committee feels it needs to face like with like and, alas, there are just three charismatic public figures in today’s Tory Party with any real high-profile presence. They are:

Boris Johnson,

Boris Johnson and

Boris Johnson.

I had thought of including other names but there are only two bitter choices for the Conservative Party: either win the 2021 election with Boris – or lose it. A difficult choice, because the British Foreign Secretary is a wildcard, a maverick schemer and a narcissist. He is no predictable pragmatist. He despises Bashar Al-Assad, or so he claims, whilst seemingly being complacent about the blockade on Yemen. Boris as Premier is a catastrophe waiting to happen. The current Tory Party only has one other charismatic public speaker and that is the foppish Jacob Rees-Mogg. There is a drive to polish him up and bring him out of the dark ages and shape him into an alternative to Boris, but that would perhaps represent too great a challenge. Difficult times for Britain, because to limp on with Theresa is to lose all credibility.

Iran faces a similar challenge. President Trump intends to defer to congress the decision on whether to reintroduce sanctions on Iran. This act of moral cowardice is no doubt prompted by his friends in Saudi Arabia and Israel, who so fear a hegemonic Iran. Iran for her part is concerned about the US returning to a hardline position. As a consequence, Iranian President Rohani has chosen to visit Oman and use the occasion to offer, astonishingly publicly, to reign in Iran’s client group, Hezbollah as well as encourage the Houthi of Yemen to attend peace talks. Curious that last point. Our experience at the Next Century Foundation in promoting second track discussions in Switzerland has been that the Saudis are the reluctant party when it comes to discussing peace. That aside, Iran’s offer on Hezbollah is nothing short of astonishing.

How does this impact on leadership? Well, Iran has made it clear in private discussion with the NCF that she will face a hardliner with a hardliner. Which means what? It means that if Trump’s hardline approach is to be the order of the day, then at the end of Rohani’s current term he will be replaced by Qasem Soleimani, the head of the foreign division of the Revolutionary Guard (the Quds Force) and a charismatic hardliner.

Charismatic leaders are in vogue. Sissi in Egypt, Mohammed Bin Salman in Saudi Arabia, and the emergent Hadi Al-Amri in Iraq and Haftar in Libya are examples of hard men who through sheer grit and determination have seized or are seizing power.

We are moving out of an era of mediocrity, simply because the people of the nations of the world have had enough of the complacent establishment, that has led to an era of the rich-poor divide becoming more acute, and increasing globalization. There is a clear difference between commercial globalization with the uneven playing field that rewards the sweatshop and the polluter, and the advocacy of a world without frontiers, in which we should  all believe.

So the world has leaned, and is leaning, toward a preference for ‘What-you-see-is-what-you-get’, transparent leaders and protest ballots. Hence the Brexit vote and the rise of Jeremy Corbyn in the UK. Hence Trump. Hence Mohammed Bin Salman’s incredible popularity in Saudi Arabia. These are all anti-establishment trends.

Clearly people seek something new from their leaders. What I believe the people of the world now yearn for in leadership is integrity. That is far more than mere box-ticking honesty. Integrity is empowered honesty in action.  Integrity means that you mean what you say when you say it. But that is not to say that there isn’t still room for old-fashioned loyalty. Theresa May and Sultan Qaboos of Oman are both examples of people who live for loyalty, by loyalty, with loyalty. And that is admirable. Combine loyalty with genuine risk-taking integrity and you get a leader who may truly change the world.

And so to Love, the other quality necessary for leadership. Here we are not talking of sit-at-home, watch television and weep sort of love. We are talking of love-in-action. This means love for all those for whom you are responsible. I have just returned from Kirkuk in Iraq where, questioned about care for the refugees in his province, the Governor of Kirkuk told me, ‘They are not my responsibility’. His issue was that they couldn’t vote for him, so why should they vote?

This is not genuine leadership. Genuine leadership means that you take responsibility for everyone for whom you have responsibility, even if you don’t particularly like them. This is a key aspect of leadership. You do not have to like people to love them. There are those who advocate the practice of loving your enemies. That is the nature of truly great leaders. Sissi of Egypt and Al-Amri of Iraq, take note. Great leaders care for the minorities, for the vulnerable. You could do better if you wish to build the nations we know you cherish.

We seek heroes,

We need heroes,

We demand heroes.

And we expect heroic leaders to love us, to protect us, to nurture us, even if they don’t particularly like us. That way they earn our loyalty. And people can be incredibly loyal.

And when we meet gross failure in love and leadership, we must call those responsible to account. Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar for example, who has let herself down, let the world down and, most importantly of all, has let the people of Myanmar down by being complicant in the Rohingya genocide.

Cruelty in all its dimensions is unacceptable. May God have mercy on the souls of all those world leaders responsible for the blockade on Gaza. The collective punishment on a people is an act of great wrong, whether in Syria, Gaza, Yemen or in Qatar. Leadership without love is not leadership – it is oppression. Even Machiavelli understood the need for wodges of love. He advised his disciples that, if they needed to use a heavy hand to keep things in order, they should do so ruthlessly and severely, but then stop, let go and treat people well. For he recognized people deserve love and care, and must get it if stability is to be engendered.

And then there is hope. We have an obligation to hope. Indeed without hope the very fabric of the universe could fall apart. And there is much reason to hope. We live in one of the most peaceful eras in all human history. You don’t think so? Remember our parents lived through the twentieth century with its two World Wars, its genocides in Europe for the Jews, in Turkey for the Armenians, in Africa for the Tutsis. The Vietnam and Korean wars, plus the partition of India. I could go on and on. Names parade through my mind. Aden. Kenya. Uganda. Then famine on famine. Live Aid was not for nothing. Ah, and Sudan. Misery on misery on misery in the twentieth century. And so many miserable footnotes. Little Kashmir, for instance. A century defined by human suffering. Things are better now in terms of sheer numbers of the dead in wars: the world has improved.

Plus things have got better in terms of war avoidance. We, as already stated, are just back from Iraq. There could reasonably be a war- a new war – between Baghdad and Arbil in order to curb Kurdish aspirations for independence. There won’t be, because Washington and Tehran want war avoidance so that they can concentrate on the existing war against Daesh. They have said so both publicly and privately, which is hope in action. Leaders, just like the rest of humanity, but even more so, have an obligation to hope. Whichever obligation or duty the rest of us has to be moral, the responsibility on the shoulders of our leaders is greater still.

The women of the little Christian town of Alqosh in the Ninevah Plain keep suitcases by their bed in anticipation of the coming war. But now they can unpack. There will be no new war in Iraq. Hope? Write the word large. It is often all that we live for.

William Morris LL.D.

On Barcelona

panorama-427997_1920

The events in Barcelona are a crime at the most fundamental level, a crime that offends all that stands for justice and peace.  What was done was profoundly wrong.

Nice on Bastille Day, Germany’s Christmas Market, Stockholm, Westminster Bridge, London Bridge, Finsbury Park, Charlottesville – and now Barcelona. Add to this terrorism by bomb and bullet and the list would seem unending.

Barcelona is unique amongst the cities of the world. Barcelona, the city of hope sheltering under the shadow of the exquisite spires of Gaudi’s fairy-tale church of the Sagrada Família.

In Barcelona they commit this crime? May God forgive them.

This heinous act redoubles our determination to build a world founded on a new kind of social contract, a society that measures progress in terms of our opportunity and freedom to each have a role we find meaningful.

God be with the wonderful people of Barcelona. And God be with this wonderful world. We shall be unbowed. We shall build a new tomorrow, build a world based on love, trust and inclusivity, and turn our backs on madness, hatred and rage. Because we must. Because our children both expect and deserve this of us. Because of Barcelona.

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