Farewell. The Flying Pig Has Left The Building.

Steve Hynd, August 16, 2012

After four years on the Typepad site, eight years total blogging, Newshoggers is closing it's doors today. We've been coasting the last year or so, with many of us moving on to bigger projects (Hey, Eric!) or simply running out of blogging enthusiasm, and it's time to give the old flying pig a rest.

We've done okay over those eight years, although never being quite PC enough to gain wider acceptance from the partisan "party right or wrong" crowds. We like to think we moved political conversations a little, on the ever-present wish to rush to war with Iran, on the need for a real Left that isn't licking corporatist Dem boots every cycle, on America's foreign misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. We like to think we made a small difference while writing under that flying pig banner. We did pretty good for a bunch with no ties to big-party apparatuses or think tanks.

Those eight years of blogging will still exist. Because we're ending this typepad account, we've been archiving the typepad blog here. And the original blogger archive is still here. There will still be new content from the old 'hoggers crew too. Ron writes for The Moderate Voice, I post at The Agonist and Eric Martin's lucid foreign policy thoughts can be read at Democracy Arsenal.

I'd like to thank all our regular commenters, readers and the other bloggers who regularly linked to our posts over the years to agree or disagree. You all made writing for 'hoggers an amazingly fun and stimulating experience.

Thank you very much.

Note: This is an archive copy of Newshoggers. Most of the pictures are gone but the words are all here. There may be some occasional new content, John may do some posts and Ron will cross post some of his contributions to The Moderate Voice so check back.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Syria -- Two Readings

By John Ballard

Amk0MJBCQAAAl9_[1]Syria is proving to be the toughest nut to crack in the Arab Spring.
Blood is literally flowing in the streets.
As the world watches in horror, another dictator is killing those who oppose him with a savagery not usually supported by world powers. But in this case a protective diplomatic buffer on the part of a few big players enables Assad's forces to continue their murderous crackdown. 

?The Syria Conundrum by Greg Djerejian (Belgravia Dispatch)
Djerejian doesn't write much lately but when he does it's worth reading.

The stench of death rising daily from Homs is an indelible black mark on Bashar, and were there even a smidgen of legitimacy left the regime could pretend to enjoy, this increasingly crude campaign has eradicated any semblance of same. One must add to this gory list documented use of torture (including against children), use of fragmentation mortar devices without warning, mass executions, among other horrific fare documented in a recent U.N. report. Indeed, it is manifestly clear that despite rosy optics around his ophthalmologist background, his attractive British-born JP Morgan alumnus wife, and such Knightsbridge style trappings�the man has now been nakedly revealed to be nothing more than a mass-murdering thug--happy to visit such horrors on his own people, no less--in a manner which already warrants war crime charges. Given these grim realities, we are facing an onslaught of elite opinion that �something must be done� to remedy the increasingly intolerable situation. This past Friday, we had three opinion pieces splashed prominently across each of the New York Times (Anne-Marie Slaughter), Wall Street Journal (Fouad Ajami) and the Financial Times (Emile Nakhleh). Unsurprisingly, the best of the lot is Nakhleh�s (the FT consistently has a far higher caliber of opinion writing than either of its two other main competitors), but I want to touch on each in turn.

Go to the link for his analysis. 
This video and commentary also comes from his post. 

The name Ibrahim Qashoush may not be familiar to many readers, but this amateur poet found his voice during the uprising as this embedded YouTube attests. Reportedly, in revenge, the regime not only killed him, but with sadistic savagery tore out his vocal chords and dumped his mutilated corpse in the Orontes River (ostensibly as a warning), which flows through Hama�s ancient, and beautiful, water-wheels. This malice painfully showcases the character of this increasingly odious regime. The Arab Awakening is about many things, from disgust with chronic corruption, limited prospects characterized by chronic unemployment, and much more, but it is certainly also about disgust at the grotesquely brazen totalitarian excesses and thuggery of episodes like these.

?Beyond the Fall of the Syrian Regime by Peter Harling, Sarah Birke

If Issandr el Amrani (The Arabist) says This is the Best Thing You Will Read on Syria, you can be sure not to miss it. His pr�s is at the link or the reader can go to the source.

There is a distinctly Syrian character to the crisis. Unlike Libyans, who in a matter of hours defected en masse, took up arms and called upon the outside world to step in, Syrians took months to resort to weapons or cry out for international intervention. Unlike Egypt, where revolution was a sublime but somewhat shallow moment of grace, the Syrian uprising has been a long, hard slog: The protest movement has gradually built itself up, studied the regime�s every move and mapped out the country to the extent that small towns such as Binnish in the northwest are now known to all.

Alongside actual demonstrations, an expansive albeit largely invisible civil society has emerged to render them possible, by offering numerous forms of support. Businessmen have donated money and food; doctors sneak out medicines from hospitals and man field clinics in the most violence-ridden areas; religious leaders, by and large, try to keep a lid on sectarianism and violence. Over the course of the uprising, Syrians have articulated a now deeply rooted culture of dissent and developed sometimes sophisticated forms of self-rule by setting up local councils: Homs, which is also home to unruly armed groups, has developed a revolutionary council with an 11-member executive that presides over committees responsible for different aspects of the crisis, from interacting with the media to procuring medical supplies. Within revolting communities there is a greater sense of purpose, solidarity and national unity than at any time in recent Syrian history.


  1. Hey John,
    I was too far along in my writing using Djerejian's post as a jumping off point to include your second link, but I'll second it as being worth the read. It is certainly not an issue that's going away any time soon, and it is always best to be as informed as possible when the intervention drums start pounding.

  2. I agree. Syria is the Gordian Knot of our day. It is not simply another chapter of the Arab Spring writ large (polished second-generation tyrant with money, economy not wholly dependent on petrol, multi-cultural population, and allies on all sides of the political spectrum) but also innocent of any sense of humanity or moral responsibility. Syria is a microcosm of everything that makes the Middle East combustible, the firing pin that can trigger a truly bloody regional war.
    Intervention of any type is playing with fire.