New Evidence of Assad’s Crimes against Humanity

Yesterday, a report was released that documents new evidence of crimes against humanity by Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria:

“…a huge cache of evidence smuggled out of the country showing the “systematic killing” of about 11,000 detainees, according to three eminent international lawyers…

Most of the victims were young men and many corpses were emaciated, bloodstained and bore signs of torture. Some had no eyes; others showed signs of strangulation or electrocution.”

This systematic torturing and killing of detainees is only the latest sign that Assad will do anything necessary to retain power. Yet Church leadership refuses to openly call for his ouster.

There is no peace without justice. There is no justice when a leader who orchestrates mass murder to retain his own power preserves authoritarian control. No settlement in Syria is likely to bring about the just peace that the Vatican and US Bishops are promoting, given the current distribution of power, but endorsing an outcome in which Assad retains power would mean an explicit rejection of the Church’s commitment to human rights and the most fundamental responsibilities governments have to their people. If regimes are provided support after engaging in mass murder and other crimes against humanity, the Church is turning the responsibility to protect on its head. Instead of deterring these actions against the common good and human dignity, this precedent would encourage such crimes in the future.

The pope, the US Bishops, and every bishop in the region have the responsibility to acknowledge that Assad has no legitimacy and must not be permitted to retain power. Only those not implicated in the crimes against humanity perpetrated by the regime should be viewed as legitimate partners in the quest for a negotiated settlement, participants in a transitional government, and candidates in subsequent elections.


Around the Web

Check out these recent articles from around the web:

A Raw Deal: Our Pain, Their Gain by Michael Stafford: “The great task that has been set before us in the coming years is simply this- to break the power of the wealthy and make America’s government one run by and for the people once again.”

China has not been able to hide Liu Xiaobo’s ideas by Dana Nemcova, Jiri Gruntorad and Jan Ruml: “Liu may be invisible outside his prison cell, but the values he spent a lifetime championing are acknowledged by a growing number of Chinese as a key element of China’s future politics. The Chinese government should bow to this reality and free Liu. He should be allowed to again take part in the conversation for democratic reform that he has done so much to foster.”

The New Cardinals by Michael Sean Winters: “Most of the names on the list are unknown to those outside their dioceses. We will get to know more about them in the weeks ahead. My guess is that all of them will, in some significant way, reflect Pope Francis’ own approach to ministry, a certain humility, a commitment to the poor, none of the ‘butterfly’ clerical qualities the pope denounced in a sermon last week.”

The Female Face of Poverty by Maria Shriver: “We have the power—not just to launch a new War on Poverty, but a new campaign for equity, for visibility, for fairness, for worth, for care.”

How Pope Francis Challenges the Right (and Left) by John Stoehr: “Perhaps Francis is challenging liberals to expand their moral horizons, too. He’s doing so by reminding us, though without saying it, that laissez-faire capitalism is the historical legacy of liberalism. Free markets, free trade, and globalization are the hallmarks of a liberalized world economy. So while contemporary liberals are gaga for Francis right now, maybe they should reconsider. He’s not only revealed that Rush Limbaugh isn’t a conservative. He’s revealed that Limbaugh is a champion of a certain kind of liberalism.”

Four new echoes in ‘Francis revolution’ by John Allen: “The pope made headlines by telling the mothers present they shouldn’t be embarrassed if they needed to breastfeed their infants, but the more substantive newsflash was that among those baptized by Francis was a little girl, Giulia, whose parents were married only civilly and thus not in the church.”

Pope Francis & Civil Marriage for Catholics by Michael Sean Winters: “He reminded us that God’s superabundant mercy is greater than any of our sins, His love is greater than any of our troubles, and that if the Church is to be truly the Church of Jesus Christ, this ‘rule’ of grace trumps all others in the pastoral care of the flock entrusted to the Church.”

BBC Newsday: Starvation in Syria leaves children eating grass to stay alive: “Activists say many are now starving in Syria, where one father reportedly tried to set fire to himself and his three children in a Damascus street rather than die slowly of hunger.”

Hunger, death in besieged Damascus area by AP: “Children, the elderly and others displaced by Syria’s civil war are starving to death in a besieged camp where women brave sniper fire to forage for food just minutes from the relative prosperity of Damascus. The dire conditions at the Yarmouk camp are a striking example of the catastrophe unfolding in rebel-held areas blockaded by the Syrian government.”

Thinking Church: Fueling our Fire by Adam Brown, Our Daily Thread: “The MCHM spill, which was only the latest in a century-long line of human and environmental disasters in the mountain state, occurred on a Thursday and affected 300,000 residents, 1/3 of the West Virginia’s population. Yet the Sunday talk shows on January 12 were busy discussing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s involvement in the closing of lanes of the George Washington Bridge. Getting to and from the Big Apple quickly is more important than the water and lives of those who extract and transport the cheap energy that powers New Jersey homes, New York commuter trains and high rise office buildings.”

Almost Everything You Read About Parenting On The Internet Is Wrong by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry: “The parenting stories that are all the rage have all the hallmarks of why our current bourgeoisie is insane.”

Does anybody care about human trafficking? by Phyllis Zagano: “The United Nations reports that at any given time, 2.5 million trafficking victims fuel a $32 billion industry. Half are children. Most are younger than 24. For every 800 persons trafficked, there is but one conviction. It is all over the world. It is not stopping. Small scale or large, the slave trade continues.”

Smoking Has Killed More Than 20 Million Americans Over The Past 50 Years by Tara Culp-Ressler: “Lushniak noted that smoking has contributed to the premature deaths of an estimated 20 million Americans since the publication of the groundbreaking report in 1964. 2.5 million of those deaths were related to secondhand smoke.”

Poll: Younger Christians less supportive of the death penalty by Jonathan Merritt: “It showed an even sharper difference in support for the death penalty among ‘practicing Christians,’ which Barna defined as those who say faith is very important to their lives and have attended church at least once in the last month. Nearly half of practicing Christian boomers support the government’s right to execute the worst criminals, while only 23 percent of practicing Christian millennials do.”

Ukraine warns Church over prayer services for protesters by Agence France-Presse: “The Ukrainian government has threatened to outlaw the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church for holding prayer services for opposition protesters occupying Kiev’s central square.”


Around the Web

Check out these recent articles from around the web:

Attacks on religion, liberty by Robert P. George  and Katrina Lantos Swett: “It is both ironic and tragic that in this season of universal goodwill the Christian communities of the ancient Biblical lands should find themselves in grave danger. Let us stand in solidarity with them today, and let us rededicate ourselves to the cause of protecting the religious liberty of men and women everywhere.”

Which Policies Reduce Income Inequality? by Laura Tyson: “President Obama has made significant progress combating income inequality. Under his leadership, the federal income tax system has become more progressive, and Obamacare is the most progressive social-insurance program since Medicare and Medicaid began in 1965. But there is far more to do. Raising the minimum wage is the right next step.”

The Church in 2014 by Michael Sean Winters: “The pope will continue his focus on the poor and challenge those of us in the affluent West to re-think our assumptions about economics and the good life, and he will continue to articulate this concern as key to evangelization. And, I suspect he will continue to tone down the culture wars. The difference in 2014 is that while last year we had symbolic and rhetorical steps in this direction, in 2014 we will see concrete acts and decisions, putting structural, organization flesh on his priorities.”

Changed, Not Ended by Julia Walsh: “I am not worried about changes in religious life; I am excited. I trust that God is up to something amazingly good. I believe that God is helping religious life evolve to meet the changing needs of society. I pray that we will have the courage and freedom to let go of anything that slows us from moving into God’s hope-filled future. I am glad I will be with sisters, strengthened by the legacies, traditions and prayers of our elders. Thank God, by grace, we are in this together.”

In China, one in five children live in rural villages without their parents by Washington Post: “More than 61 million children — about one-fifth of the kids in China — live in villages without their parents. Most are the offspring of peasants who have flocked to cities in one of the largest migrations in human history.”

Yes, You Should Talk Politics With Your Family by Anna Sutherland: “Family life is not always peaceful, but in a world of instant gratification and echo chambers, it’s a healthy check on our self-centeredness, our egos, and our confidence in our own ideas.”

Archbishop Kurtz on the new pope by Greg Hillis: “When it comes to the implications of Pope Francis’ message for himself, Archbishop Kurtz hears the pope saying to him and to all clergy: ‘Don’t become distant from the people you serve. Find ways to hear people, to visit people… The Holy Father is not asking us to see the person from a distance. He’s asking us to be close up.’ And indeed, the archbishop said, it is this accompanying of the person genuinely and lovingly that has to come before all else, because ‘if there is not that attempt to seek to accompany, then there will be no credibility.’”

Syria’s children suffer, and the world just shrugs by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon: “The world has devoted a great deal of diplomatic energy to securing Syria’s chemical weapons. It has yet to do the same for securing Syria’s children.”

Out of jobs, out of benefits, out of luck by David Frum: “People who can’t work still must eat. Americans in distress have a claim on the rest of the nation. Extend unemployment insurance. Sustain food stamps. While we’re looking for a new deal, at least quit deluding ourselves that the old deal is still operable. It’s not. It has passed on, from everywhere except our increasingly outdated memories.”

The resurgent progressives by EJ Dionne: “You might summarize the revived left’s basic gripe with this question: Why was it so much easier to spend public money on rescuing financial institutions than on rescuing families caught in a cycle of unemployment, collapsing incomes and foreclosures?”

Listening to the Founding Fathers by Michael Gerson: “The broad purposes of the modern state — promoting equal opportunity, providing for the poor and elderly — are valid within our constitutional order. But these roles are often carried out in antiquated, failing systems. The conservative challenge is to accept a commitment to the public good while providing a distinctly conservative vision of effective, modest, modern government.”

States make moves toward paid family leave by Washington Post: “The moves on the state level, advocates say, are a sign that people are tired of waiting for Congress to act to bring workplace laws dating to the 1930s, when a majority of mothers were at home, in line with a modern workforce, in which a majority of mothers work.”

Rocky Mountain High? by CNS: “Denver Police Chief Robert White said in late December that his staff will not actively enforce bans on recreational smoking in public, adding to some parents’ fears that the murky situation will become a legal free-for-all.”


Syrian Refugees and the Costs of Non-Intervention

Conditions in Syria remain heartbreaking for anyone with a modicum of human sympathy, and the future looks dark, perhaps as dark as it has since Bashar Assad started murdering peaceful protesters. Over 7 million people have been displaced and perhaps 150,000 have been killed, according to National Security Advisor Susan Rice. Assad’s forces have been gaining strength, as have rebels who are affiliated with al Qaeda. The moderate rebels have seen their strength and support collapse since the US struck a deal with Assad on chemical weapons (and having never received adequate assistance from the United States).

As the Geneva II peace conference approaches, few believe that a resolution to end this brutal civil war will be reached. The possibility of a tolerable outcome (with a government that is not run by mass murderers) seems to have disappeared. ‘Last resort’ was clearly tens of thousands of deaths ago (no one with any prudence should have mistaken Assad’s intentions after the Houla Massacre of May 2012), yet we now seem to have reached the point where it is impossible to enforce the responsibility to protect. If a tolerable outcome seems unachievable, a just peace seems inconceivable.

Many Catholic commentators who irresponsibly weighed the best-case scenario of non-intervention against the worst conceivable outcome of intervention are now seeing that there are ‘unintended consequences’ to non-intervention, not just intervention. Sectarian violence is spilling across Syria’s borders, Assad’s forces continue to perpetrate crimes against humanity, and the opposition is growing more extreme and brutal. Their hopes of a negotiated settlement with a reasonably just outcome (somehow to be achieved without providing any assistance to those with some commitment to democracy and human rights) have proved as unrealistic as some Iraq War enthusiasts’ belief that American troops would be greeted as liberators and that a transition to democracy would be relatively quick, smooth, and painless. Yet few admit that they were dangerously naïve or that conditions have deteriorated badly. Actually, few seem to be aware that Syria still exists, now that the possibility of American intervention appears very unlikely.

Now with winter looming, aid organizations are deeply concerned that many Syrian refugees in makeshift shelters will lose their lives. The UN has appealed for $6.5 billion in humanitarian aid to address the situation, its largest appeal ever. The gravity of the threat seems clear when one considers the conditions many face:

Often fleeing Syria destitute, with nothing more than the clothes on their backs, they have made a home out of whatever they can find including plastic bags, wood panels or potato sacks.

These constructions do little to protect against freezing temperatures and often collapse in the snow. When it rains the mud patches of land often turn into swamp lands, the crudely dug canals spilling raw sewage.

The Washington Post has a new series of articles that highlight the personal stories of 18 refugees from a wide-range of backgrounds. Kevin Sullivan explains:

Linda and I interviewed and photographed widows and orphans, the wealthy, the wounded, children and the elderly, those surviving in camps, and those suffering in urban slums. To capture the full range of refugee life, we witnessed a birth and a wedding, classrooms and operating rooms, and we visited a cemetery where families mourned not just for their dead, but for the fact that they are buried in foreign soil.

We saw terrible misery and inspiring stories of resilience and survival. We hope the portraits of these refugees, and the nations struggling to help them, will further an understanding of one of the most daunting human crises in recent memory.

These people, and these countries, will never be the same.

The stories highlight the devastation created by Assad’s lust for power and the costs of the international community’s failure to act on its responsibility to protect civilians from repressive, murderous regimes. These refugees were lucky enough to have escaped being killed in their own beds, gassed by chemical weapons, or intentionally starved to death, yet the suffering they face is hard to imagine for those of us living securely in the West.

While we have failed to protect these people and the loved ones they have lost, we can still help to provide them with humanitarian assistance, both as a nation and as individual persons, to help them survive the immanent threats they face from winter conditions. It’s the least we can do.


Around the Web

Check out these recent articles from around the web:

Evaluating the status of the Millennium Development Goals by Kevin Clarke, US Catholic: “There will be much more to do after 2015, but for the first time in human history a serious case can be made that extreme poverty and the degradations and suffering which accompany it may be eliminated in our lifetime. And with a prophet like Pope Francis urging us on, much that had seemed implausible suddenly appears joyfully attainable— even inevitable.”

‘Massive evidence’ links Syrian regime to war crimes, U.N. official says by CNN Staff: “A United Nations fact-finding team has found “massive evidence” that the highest levels of the Syrian government are responsible for war crimes in the nation’s long-running civil war, the U.N.’s human rights chief said Monday.”

Mexican bishop takes on cultish cartel in drug war battleground state by Joshua Partlow: “This has been the bloodiest year since 1998 when it comes to drug violence here in the state of Michoacan. For Miguel Patiño Velazquez, a 75-year-old bishop with a white frock and dark circles under his eyes, it is time to speak out.”

How to debate the ‘undebatable’ falsehoods about Social Security by Michael Hiltzik: “But for all their chattering about Social Security’s insolvency, it’s their arguments that were bankrupt.”

9 Reasons ‘Hookup Culture’ Hurts Boys Too by Ryan Sager: “As Wiseman writes, we assume that boys are the perpetrators and beneficiaries of hookup culture — and thus we tend to ignore its effects on them. But those effects, it turns out, can be rather rough.”

Cuts to SNAP devastating to Miss. families by Greg Patin of Catholic Charities: “Recent federal cuts to nutrition support programs such as SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, have worsened the suffering of the hundreds of struggling Mississippi families we help each day. On Nov. 1, the average SNAP benefit fell to just $1.40 per meal, spurring more demand for our services and stretching us to capacity.”

Photos show scale of North Korea’s repressive prison camps by CNN: “North Korea is showing no signs of scaling back its fearsome labor camp system, with torture, starvation, rape and death a fact of life for tens of thousand of inmates, according to human rights group Amnesty International.”

What President Obama Missed in His Inequality Speech by Anna Sutherland: “At the end of his speech yesterday, President Obama mentioned the role of parents, civic organizations, religious leaders, and businesses in rebuilding an economy of open opportunity. Next time, he should also mention marriage.”

Protests Nationwide Seek Living Wage by Kevin Clarke, America: “Today’s fast-food worker, according to a report by the University of Illinois and the University of California, Berkeley, is typically over 20, often raising a child, and just under 70 percent are the primary wage earners in their families. According to the study, 52 percent of full-time fast food workers qualify for federal assistance at a cost to taxpayers of $7 billion a year.”

Does Your New Health Plan Cover Abortion? by Grant Gallicho, Commonweal: “Before the president signed the ACA, he devoted a lot of energy to addressing the concerns of prolife Democrats. Without their votes, the Affordable Care Act might not have passed. Supporters of Obamacare owe them a debt of gratitude. So does Obama. It’s time for the president to settle that debt.”

Marcel as Prophet by Fr. John J. Conley, S.J.: “The author who most impressed the students was Marcel. What struck them were not so much his famous theories of creative fidelity or of the difference between problem and mystery. Rather, it was his prescience as a social critic. In Man Against Mass Society (1955), Marcel took the measure of the culture of death that was incipient in postwar France but has since become part of our daily routine.”

Currency Crisis by Fr. Paul D. McNelis, S.J., America: “Although a breakup of the euro area is not out of the question, the better strategy would be to move forward and maintain the euro with a system of greater fiscal centralization. Clearly the European Central Bank has to harmonize bank accounting and regulatory standards across the system. For the euro to work, national governments will have to yield some—though by no means all—of their fiscal autonomy to a centralized Ministry of Finance in the euro system, much the way state governments have citizens paying direct and indirect taxes to the federal government.”

Hunger in America is a moral crisis that government must help solve by Nancy K. Kaufman and Gradye Parsons: “And it is precisely because the faith community is so involved in alleviating hunger that we support SNAP and other government solutions that reduce need and protect vulnerable people. Indeed, our faith traditions require a commitment, not only to personal charity, but also to systemic and communal justice.”

My shameful military pregnancy by Bethany Saros, Salon: “One of the stigmas attached to a female getting pregnant on a deployment is the assumption that she did it on purpose. It’s whispered about any time the word “pregnancy” comes up right before and during a combat tour. The unspoken code is that a good soldier will have an abortion, continue the mission, and get some sympathy because she chose duty over motherhood. But for the woman who chooses motherhood over duty, well, she must have been trying to get out of deployment.”

Responding to “Feminism at Fifty” by Sidney Callahan: “I think the present feminist movements are more diverse, since religious and ethnic women have taken more of a self-conscious part. There is also more awareness of the economic dimension of women’s need for work. Among educated women there is also a revaluing of marriage and family as important to their fulfillment. Many men are more feminist and cooperative. However, the sexual revolution and so-called hook up culture are bad news for men and women. Yet it is hard to tell the media hype from the real situation. I also think that the feminist pro-life movement has made some progress in the culture in changing women’s ideas about abortion.”


Around the Web

Check out these recent articles from around the web:

Pot and Jackpots by Ross Douthat: “There are significant differences in the ways gambling and pot have won America….But both have been made possible by the same trend in American attitudes: the rise of a live-and-let-live social libertarianism, the weakening influence of both religious conservatism and liberal communitarianism, the growing suspicion of moralism in public policy. And both, in different ways, illustrate the potential problems facing a culture pervaded by what the late sociologist Robert Bellah called ‘expressive individualism’ and allergic to any restrictions on what individuals choose to do.”

The Downside of Playing Hard to Get by Anna Sutherland: “So it would seem that playing hard-to-get has its rewards in the relationship market. But that doesn’t mean we should all adopt it as a strategy: deceit and manipulation seem an unlikely path to a happy relationship characterized by honesty and openness on both sides.”

My Favorite Jesuit? by Paul Brian Campbell SJ, People for Others: “We are, I’m sure, all familiar with Ignatius Loyola and Francis Xavier, but how many of you know another founder of the Jesuits: Pierre Favre?”

Look to Disraeli, Conservatives by R. R. Reno: “Right now liberalism seems to have the upper hand, especially in culture. Most people want what they’re offering, which is greater space to be a free actor in our personal inventions of sexual identity, marriage, and family. But by my reading of the signs of the times people want more than that. They want freedom, yes, but they also want solidarity, which in the cultural politics of our time means an enduring marriage and functional family.”

Whittaker Chambers Versus Ayn Rand by Cass R. Sunstein: “Chambers goes so far as to link Rand with Karl Marx. Both, he says, are motivated by a kind of materialism, in which people’s happiness lies not with God or with anything spiritual, and much less with an appreciation of human limitations, but only with the use of their ‘own workaday hands and ingenious brain.’”

Syria Goes Hungry by New York Times: “The experts warn that if the crisis continues into the winter, deaths from hunger and illness could begin to dwarf deaths from violence, which has already killed well over 100,000 people, and if the deprivation lasts longer, a generation of Syrians risks stunted development.”

Make room for young people by Michael O’Loughlin: “The way to prevent that crisis from happening is to bring a bit of Silicon Valley into the church, inviting young people — especially those in their teens and 20s — into meaningful positions of leadership and responsibility. For both the church and young people, it would be a ‘win-win,’ at once evangelizing and strengthening the faith of young leaders and increasing the vitality, creativity and energy of the church.”

Slavery Isn’t a Thing of the Past by Nicholas Kristof: “The United States is home to about 60,000 people who can fairly be called modern versions of slaves, according to a new Global Slavery Index released last month by the Walk Free Foundation, which fights human trafficking.”

The high prices of living in poverty By Kevin Clarke: “This ‘poverty tax’ extends to virtually all aspects of the lives of America’s low-income families. Financial services and mortgages cost more for poor people. Check-cashing, rent-to-own, and payday loan operations skim vast sums from the poor. And a new study reports that the physical and psychological costs of being poor are surprisingly high.”

What You Can Do by John Carr: “Sacrifice for others and priority for the poor may be politically incorrect, but they are religious obligations.”

$10 Minimum Wage Proposal Has Growing Support From White House by NY Times: “President Obama, the official continued, supports the Harkin-Miller bill, also known as the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, from its current $7.25.”

The world must unite to save Central African Republic from catastrophe by NY Times: “We are in a delicate situation in the Central African Republic, and the tension is mounting. There is a terrifying, real threat of sectarian conflict.”


Around the Web

Check out these recent articles from around the web:

New Front in the Fight With Infant Mortality By Eduardo Porter: “Pregnant women, across the country and anywhere along the income spectrum, will for the first time have guaranteed access to health insurance offering a minimum standard of care that will help keep their babies alive.”

A Call to Moral Theologians: Biotechnology Needs More Attention by Brian Green, CMT: “Hurlbut’s overarching point of was the importance of moral reflection on our growing biotechnological power. Calling cloning and stem cells issues that have the genuine power to change the course of civilization, Hurlbut emphasized the importance of engaging these issues in the right way, because once a path is chosen we may effectively become locked in to the moral outcomes.”

High-School Sports Aren’t Killing Academics by Daniel H. Bowen and Collin Hitt: “Despite negative stereotypes about sports culture and Ripley’s presumption that academics and athletics are at odds with one another, we believe that the greater body of evidence shows that school-sponsored sports programs appear to benefit students. Successes on the playing field can carry over to the classroom and vice versa.”

Why Russia Is Growing More Xenophobic by Ilan Berman: “More and more, Russians from across the political spectrum are identifying with (and organizing around) a national identity tinged with racism.”

Lead Still Major Problem Worldwide by Kevin Clarke, America: “Even though lead poisoning is entirely preventable, lead exposure causes 143,000 deaths and 600,000 new cases of children with intellectual disabilities every year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).”

Vatican Insider Interview with Bishop Robert W. McElroy: “The statements, the actions and the gestures of Pope Francis have illuminated the scandal of global poverty not with harshness, but with a gentleness of truth that stirs the conscience to recognize realities that one already knows, but prefers not to recognize.”

Don’t abandon the women of Afghanistan By Paula J. Dobriansky and Melanne S. Verveer: “The international community must work to ensure that women’s gains in recent years are protected and that Afghan women continue to make political and economic progress. Any future support for the country’s government must be explicitly tied to continued defense of equal rights and continued progress of female citizens.”

Remembering Genocide in Kigali by Kerry Weber: “Perhaps one of the most notable characteristics of the Kigali Memorial Centre is its simplicity: a small fountain; a stone courtyard; some gardens, with water fixtures flowing through them. And the long, brown slabs of brick marking the graves of 250,000 of the men, women and children who died in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.”

Vatican’s media adviser offers ‘Top 10′ ways to understand Pope Francis by Carol Glatz, CNS: “No matter how some media may want to spin it, Pope Francis won’t fit into the political categories of left or right, and he will challenge everyone with the truth of the Gospel, said the Vatican’s media adviser.”

When We Don’t Feel Like Loving Our ‘Loved Ones’ by Michael Wear: “In some areas of Christian culture, our vision of loving the stranger is expanding while our vision of loving those closest to us is restricting.”

Assad’s War of Starvation by John Kerry: “The world already knows that Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons, indiscriminate bombing, arbitrary detentions, rape, and torture against his own citizens. What is far less well known, and equally intolerable, is the systematic denial of medical assistance, food supplies, and other humanitarian aid to huge portions of the population. This denial of the most basic human rights must end before the war’s death toll — now surpassing 100,000 — reaches even more catastrophic levels.”