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When will war be the red line, Mr. President? (Featured in Huffington Post)

When will war be the red line, Mr. President? (Featured in Huffington Post)

* Find my original Facebook post here.
* Illustration by Sara El-Yafi 

** This article was published in the Huffington Post

I have personally been trying to wrap my head around this sudden raging wake-up call regarding the tragedy of chemical weapons having killed innocent people, not just on behalf of the US administration and its European allies, but on behalf of the media and the entire world as well. The fact that we soberly believe that other types of weapons that kill people do not necessitate the outrage of chemical weapons is just another pointer to the mediocrity of the world we live in. They say “it’s a red line”, but it’s a red line for selectively-conscious people who hide behind the mask of being pragmatic and “realistic”.

I give my third finger to your realism for your realism is the reason why the world is so slow at getting any better because we learn to accept perverted violence as the norm of every conflict infused with the debauched manifestation that violent self-defense makes it all even more legitimate. Why isn’t war the red line for the international community? Because the ones voting for the “right to bear arms” are people who have not the slightest idea how gruesome and God awful war is for citizens; they are people who have never witnessed the atrocities of war as a vulnerable civilian as they sit locked in the shelter with rotting dead bodies; they are people who have never endured the undignifying horror and the crippling fear of being held at gunpoint for being in the wrong place at the wrong time; they are people who have never been shelled by indomitable machinery in their own homes, nor known the feeling of being obliged to literally -run- away from their own homes only to wander the streets like dirty rats dwelling in garbage and abhorred by the world for being burdens; they are people who have never smelled the stench of burning flesh and never had to look for their brother in a stockpile of cadavers; they are people who have never seen the face of terror nor what kind of debilitating damage it does to your psyche in the long run and they are people who have never held their dying child in their arms. Those are the “realists” of this world.

If chemical weapons is a red line for Obama that’s because he’s got a political agenda and he’s at the head of the dirtiest game that is international politics that has been set by manipulative predecessors, but what is your agenda, you as a human being? What is your goddamn agenda? The red line should be weapons used against any people everywhere. The red line should be war. That is the real red line. And that should be the red line for every person who has the decency of calling themselves a human being.

Written by Sara El-Yafi

75 Comments

  1. Nina Raybaudo · September 3, 2013

    I don’t think it could have been said any better

  2. Maria El Hage Khouri · September 3, 2013

    Merci!!!

  3. Adon Mobin · September 3, 2013

    I salute you! Like you said, you’re so goood when you rant!:)

  4. Ralph Awika · September 3, 2013

    Amazing! Thank you!

  5. Mané Arratia · September 3, 2013

    Well said!!!!…

  6. Riad Mouawad · September 3, 2013

    couldn’t have said it any better.

  7. Zeid Tawil · September 3, 2013

    well said..spot on Sara

  8. Leila Sawaya El Khoury · September 3, 2013

    Amazing sarah

  9. Myriam EL-Khoury Malhame · September 3, 2013

    Brilliant wake-up call

  10. Marc Akouri · September 3, 2013

    I agree, I concur, I second and I am in complete accord.

  11. Omar Tabba · September 3, 2013

    Bravo Sara El-Yafi

  12. Carine Abou Rjeily · September 3, 2013

    very well said as usual Sara ….

  13. Zaki Naccash · September 3, 2013

    says, “When the Arabs Leadership Sleep, Others Draw Your Lines !!”

  14. May Massoud · September 3, 2013

    “The red line should be weapons used against any people everywhere. The red line should be war. That is the real red line. And that should be the red line for every person who has the decency of calling themselves a human being.” – brilliant

  15. Sarah Shamra · September 3, 2013

    Ohhhh

  16. Bassem Kamel · September 3, 2013

    I totally agree with this post and I find it very hypocritical from people and politicians alike to have a ‘red line’. The trail of blood and tears has been too long for Syrians and Lebanese many other innocent people around the world. As it is said in the post of the caricature : “The fact that we soberly believe that other types of weapons that kill people do not necessitate the outrage of chemical weapons is just another pointer to the mediocrity of the world we live in”. And the last paragraph is my principle in life. Ideal and non-realistic, but I still give a buck* for humanity

  17. Youmna Naufal · September 3, 2013

    Check out this drawing by Ms. Sara El-Yafi who says war should be a red line – and I’ll agree on that one. Don’t you?

  18. Zeid Tawil · September 3, 2013

    a must read

  19. Riad Mouawad · September 3, 2013

    worth reading…

  20. Alison Smith Marriott · September 3, 2013

    Was waiting for your take on this mess.

  21. Lamia Ghabeh · September 3, 2013

    You are such a SMART YOUNG LADY

  22. Jill Height · September 4, 2013

    Well said! Most of us don’t “know”!!!!

  23. Zina Sawaf · September 4, 2013

    Amen!

  24. Rola Moussa · September 4, 2013

    Thank you. What an explicit and true explanation about what is happening all over the world.

  25. Philip E Nassar · September 4, 2013

    Very well said..

  26. Rached El-Youssef · September 4, 2013

    Run by one devious maestro ……

  27. Joumana Moussa · September 4, 2013

    Bravoooooo!!!!

  28. Mazen Naccache · September 4, 2013

    Well said

  29. Leroy Gonsalves · September 4, 2013

    Absolutely true. Well put Sara and thanks Elie for sharing.

  30. Khalil Tayara · September 4, 2013

    Brilliant!

  31. Amal Rahbani · September 4, 2013

    Sara,with ur permission,i will share

  32. Hala Hanna · September 4, 2013

    Great, agreed. But most of us for 3 years have been like: “the world is watching them die and not doing anything about it!!!” and now we’re like: “dirty hands off Syria, evil imperialists!!!”. I’m a bit confused at the stance I should be taking. As if 3 years haven’t been enough to develop an intellectually coherent and morally righteous position. In the meantime, 3rd finger up.

    • Sara El-Yafi · September 4, 2013

      I agree with you Hala. I totally know what you mean. I think we need to make a distinction between spurs of emotional reactions and thought-out legitimate responses on behalf of the international community. While it is so easy to rightfully analyze things in retrospect, there is something valid to be said today about the role that the international community, spearheaded by the US, could have played better. The alarm should have gone off when the “second phase” of the rebellion started and the conflict became a military one after parts of the Syrian army broke away from the regime and established the Free Syrian Army. The US then started rallying a large group of countries to back the rebellion and pledged active financial and logistical help to the FSA. But no clear means to achieve the goal. That movement on behalf of the US was not the ideal one. It is one that is diametrically opposed to Russia and China on one hand as if trying to spur their differences, and starting a proxy war against Iran on the other, a deadly strategy which only resulted in an enormous rise of the death toll. In fact, that is when the death toll numbers started rising like wildfire from the thousands to the tens of thousands. In other words, the US and the international community opted for WAR. In my opinion, THAT should have been the red line. Why on earth would the US opt to get involved in the Syrian conflict as an active backer of the insurrection instead of trying to leverage their role as a potential mediator and problem solver for all? I will tell you why. Because Obama’s advisors are so badly placed and so archaic in their form of thinking and their PhDs are probably theses that hulled and husked the “Soviet Union” that to them everything is about “us” vs “them” and they view the Syrian conflict through Russia and Iran’s roles. They would be seeking to depose Assad NOT in the interest of the Syrians because we all know war is not in the interest of the Syrians, but in order to deprive Iran from having a legitimate ally in the region, one that borders Israel. It is as if the US understood nothing of its historical blunders in the region, not only has this played against the US, but it has contributed to a massive rise in violence in Syria.
      To make my point, yes USA should get involved as does the international community, but no not as a backer of anything, but as a mediator and solver with human rights as their principle agenda. I would have expected that of Obama.

  33. Kristele Younes · September 4, 2013

    I wholeheartedly agree that war in itself should be a red line, Sara, but sadly- and maybe I am one of those realists you want to give the finger to!- armed conflicts have existed pretty much since the beginning of humanity as we are all, after all, savages. Nobody is sadder about it than I am, I assure you. But given the world we live in, rules to govern armed conflicts are necessary to mitigate civilian harm, while at the same time political resolution must be sought, of course. I think it is a GOOD thing that chemical weapons still constitute a taboo, and that the world, and the media, are outraged by their use. And it is not because the world doesn’t give a shit about the other types of horrors you list- all violence is untenable, and any “collateral damage” is deplorable, most of us working in war zones would agree. Chemical weapons, however, are not meant to fight an enemy, or strike a target. They solely exist- unlike other weapons- to terrify civilians, and murder civilians at a large scale. They have no other purpose than to cause collateral damage, and are therefore de facto a violation of the laws of war, as opposed to other types of weapons that can be used in more targeted fashions. Regardless of politics, regardless of where we stand on Syria, the U.S, Iran or any other lovely player in this nastiest of conflicts, a red line- one even more redder than the generalized violence we’ve been seeing- was indeed crossed in Syria. If we don’t react to that, we might as well give up on the Geneva Conventions all together, and I should really find myself another career (!).

    • Sara El-Yafi · September 4, 2013

      There was a time Kristele where man could beat his wife as often as he deemed righteous and necessary. The woman and the carpet both needed beating when they became dirty. Then, some people with a form of consciousness, on behalf of the community, wanted to regulate the extent of the word “righteous” because too many women were dying battered. So they said beating your wife is hereby limited to the events of her disobeying, cheating, and lying only; AND in the event that there would be beating, your arm movement should be uniquely be limited to the movement of your elbow, but NEVER the shoulder (you can’t swing your arm). In fact, if you move your shoulder while you beat your wife, it is a RED LINE. That was the case for 18 centuries in parts of the world. And the NORM during those 18 centuries is that if you are a married woman and you dare disobey, expect to be slapped, because as you say this has existed “since the beginning of humanity”. Thank you to the regulators who made the beating slightly better by regulating reasons and arm movement, but today, that regulation is not enough for you is it? Because it is thanks to some people who took a valid stance saying “how about we condemn beating altogether?” Resultantly, you and I today will almost surely not be battered women when and if we decide to get married, but that is because someone changed the norm.
      Chemical weapons being a red line is like saying the shoulder movement in a woman’s beating is a red line. It is valid, it certainly helps diminish the harm, it does make it less evil, but it is certainly not the end of the damned conversation.
      So I think it is valid to make a case that it is a conscious CHOICE for our societies to start opting out of war and one day even make it unacceptable to use war machinery, just like we have in many societies made the beating of women unacceptable. I believe it is necessary to seriously start talking about making war a red line.

      • Zeid Tawil · September 4, 2013

        Nothing but logic and common sense. .thank u Sara

      • Kristele Younes · September 4, 2013

        I don’t disagree with any of that, Sara. I think it is a worthy goal to seek the end of armed conflict, just as it is a worthy goal to advance women and human rights in general. I do however believe that while we discuss the merits of abolishing war, it sadly continues to be waged, and we therefore need to mitigate the harm it causes to those who have no say in it. Those goals are not mutually exclusive. So, while we should indeed condemn violence in all its forms, and hope that one day war will be illegal (it isn’t for now, sadly) we should also recognize that violence’s most pernicious form is the one that exists solely for the purpose of going after civilians. And to me, and I suspect many others, that’s why chemical weapons are indeed a red line.

        • Sara El-Yafi · September 4, 2013

          I now agree with you 100%. Absolutely. I think it is everyone’s task to make sure they go hand in hand, and not just emphasize the more pernicious forms. Yes we should make a big deal out of them, as we should out of the entire concept of armed conflict. The idea that war is a red line should be more mainstream and upheld by all kinds of people, not just the hippy treehuggers who are more often than not are dismissed as “idealistic” and “weak”. The discussion should change. And the ones who are making that happen are people like you. So no don’t quit your job, if anything we should join you on the killing fields.

  34. Bassem Kamel · September 4, 2013

    My exact position on the hypocrisy of the world’s superpowers, the media and people who take sides with dictatorship or/and with terrorist mercenaries in the war in Syria. A wake up call to humanity:
    “If chemical weapons is a red line for Obama that’s because he’s got a political agenda and he’s at the head of the dirtiest game that is international politics that has been set by manipulative predecessors, but what is your agenda, you as a human being? What is your goddamn agenda? The red line should be weapons used against any people everywhere. The red line should be war. That is the real red line. And that should be the red line for every person who has the decency of calling themselves a human being.”
    Sara El-Yafi

  35. Amal Abou Farhat Moubarak · September 5, 2013

    Very well said……….. 🙂

  36. Anas Khalifeh · September 5, 2013

    Something for any idiot who thinks bombing Syria is a good idea! Thank you!

  37. Ghada Slim · September 5, 2013

    A MUST READ
    From Sara El-Yafi

    One doesn’t have to agree or disagree with Mrs Yafi to Give her TWO THUMBS UP !!!

  38. Ghada Slim · September 5, 2013

    TWO THUMBS UP Mrs EL-YAFI !!! Excellent Article, Well written ! Love your Witt and Dry real sense of humor mixed with such a constructive argument. My question to you and hypothetically speaking : Would you or anyone in lebanon dare to give your Third Finger “to the Realism or for the Realism … ” To his excellency President Michel Suleiman , the president of Lebanese Republic ??? No offense to my question, just curious to know .

    • Sara El-Yafi · September 7, 2013

      Dear Ghada, thank you so much for your positive words and for clarifying the content of my message to Georges and encouraging the readership of my website. It means a lot to see such gracious readers like you engage me and others on my thread. To reply to your question, I am not quite sure I understand what you mean. I avoid giving my third finger to specific people as I never like to engage in personal attacks, however, I am happy to give my third finger to concepts and trends of mediocrity. And as far as I am concerned, every single Lebanese stateman, every single member of parliament, every modern antecedent, and forebear of our damn political system embodies trends of mediocrity in an absolute insulting fashion to every Lebanese seeking valuable, effective representation. I do not know the president personally, and for all I know he may be a wonderful chap with great intentions, but I do not believe he or anyone else is doing a job of nation-building in this god forsaken nation, and I cannot not be upset about this ongoing mediocrity.

      • Hadi Agha · September 7, 2013

        Sara, I Like Your Answer Up Here, But I Think That You Made Somehow Of A “Typo” Maybe 😉 —> “every single Lebanese stateman, every single member of parliament, every modern antecedent” —> Lebanon Has Lots Of “Politicians” And Unfortunately NO “Statesmen,” Well, Except One Maybe. Keep On Writing.

        • Sara El-Yafi · September 7, 2013

          I guess you are very right Hadi. The last stateman died in 1986. I have to say that I do like Ziyad Baroud though.
          In any case, thank you for your encouragement Hadi, it means a lot.

    • Hadi Agha · September 7, 2013

      Ghada, The Fact Is, You’ll Be Among The Vast Lebanese Majority If You Gave The Third Finger To Michel Suleiman.

      • Ghada Slim · September 7, 2013

        Hadi :You meant to say the vast minority ! And than what ? Will call you from Roumieh Prison … For a bail out ! Lol

        • Hadi Agha · September 7, 2013

          Ghada, Don’t Worry… Roumieh Is Already Overfilled, No Space For You 😉 – No I Meant The “VAST Majority.”

  39. Amal Moubarak · September 5, 2013

    Hat off Sara El-Yafi…………. Must read……….. 🙂

  40. Wissam Boustany · September 5, 2013

    What a relief that there are strong people who can still see straight and talk straight.

  41. Yanni Papastavrou · September 5, 2013

    some straight-talking Lebanese wisdom…

  42. Areej Saeb · September 5, 2013

    “If chemical weapons is a red line for Obama that’s because he’s got a political agenda and he’s at the head of the dirtiest game that is international politics that has been set by manipulative predecessors, but what is your agenda, you as a human being? What is your goddamn agenda? The red line should be weapons used against any people everywhere. The red line should be war. That is the real red line. And that should be the red line for every person who has the decency of calling themselves a human being.” Excellent!

  43. Zeina Saab · September 5, 2013

    Brilliant writing, Sara El-Yafi. I’ve always found it outrageous why chemical weapons and WMD are a red line. As if death by any other means is acceptable…

  44. Amber Ennis · September 5, 2013

    A worthy rant.

  45. Willie J G-brant · September 5, 2013

    Absolutely! And don’t forget land mines, quite possibly the worst of all because they continue to function, maiming and killing, long after the initial aggressions have ended!

  46. Sara Buchamseddeen · September 5, 2013

    Right

  47. Sam Sparcs · September 5, 2013

    I love all what u stated above Sara, unfortunatly its a big game, that no one is able to see or deal with it to save lives, they are simply the soldiers in a chess game, moved by outside hands, and time will come sooner or later to say كِش مَلِكْ.

  48. Amal Fares · September 5, 2013

    Bravooo Sara !!

  49. Tony Ata · September 5, 2013

    Very well said

  50. Zeina Saab · September 5, 2013

    You are just brilliant. Seriously.

  51. Georges Edde · September 7, 2013

    I am a Lebanese American I love USA and I am a big Obama supporter but Lebanon is my first love . Is this group is about what Obama is doing or is about change Lebanon to a free country . Am I missing the point in here

  52. Georges Edde · September 7, 2013

    Don t u think we should worry about the unemployment in Lebanon and About the citizen who can t afford to put food on the table . My heart and prayers are with Syrian peoples but I am against United States decision on bombing Syria . I believe that should be United Nations decision . By the way why the Arabs don t save Syria any ideas ?

    • Ghada Slim · September 7, 2013

      Georges Edde : this is not a group ! Lol you are on Mrs Sara EL-Yafi personal Facebook page !
      In case you haven’t noticed that ! And in case you are not familiar with Sara El-Yafi and her excellent writing and blogs, Google is at your finger tip and even a much easier option : simply click on her page http://www.saraelyafi.com ! It’s always good for one to do a bit of homework before making a comment ! Just a friendly suggestion 🙂

  53. Georges Edde · September 7, 2013

    Sara so what s are your view on Syria ?

    • Sara El-Yafi · September 7, 2013

      Concerning your question, Georges Edde about what my views are on Syria. Here is what I have to say:
      It is not a black and white argument for anything anymore. There has been terrible tragedies and terror-inducing maneuvers on behalf of all actors of the Syrian conflict. What I would like to focus on is the American and International community role in the conflict since that is the most urgent topic today. I think we need to make a distinction between spurs of emotional reactions and thought-out legitimate responses on behalf of the international community. While it is so easy to rightfully analyze things in retrospect, there is something valid to be said today about the role that the international community, spearheaded by the US, could have played better. The alarm should have gone off when the “second phase” of the rebellion started and the conflict became a military one after parts of the Syrian army broke away from the regime and established the Free Syrian Army. The US then started rallying a large group of countries to back the rebellion and pledged active financial and logistical help to the FSA. But no clear means to achieve the goal. That movement on behalf of the US was not the ideal one. It is one that is diametrically opposed to Russia and China on one hand as if trying to spur their differences, and starting a proxy war against Iran on the other, a deadly strategy which only resulted in an enormous rise of the death toll. In fact, that is when the death toll numbers started rising like wildfire from the thousands to the tens of thousands. In other words, the US and the international community opted for WAR. In my opinion, THAT should have been the red line. Why on earth would the US opt to get involved in the Syrian conflict as an active backer of the insurrection instead of trying to leverage their role as a potential mediator and problem solver for all? I will tell you why. Because Obama’s advisors are so badly placed and so archaic in their form of thinking and their PhDs are probably theses that hulled and husked the “Soviet Union” that to them everything is about “us” vs “them” and they view the Syrian conflict through Russia and Iran’s roles. They would be seeking to depose Assad NOT in the interest of the Syrians because we all know that war is not in the interest of the Syrians, but in order to deprive Iran from having a legitimate ally in the region, one that borders Israel. It is as if the US understood nothing of its historical blunders in the region, not only has this played against the US, but it has contributed to a massive rise in violence in Syria.
      To make my point, yes USA should get involved as does the international community, but no not as a backer of anything, but as a mediator and solver with human rights as their principle agenda. I would have expected that of Obama.

  54. Lama Peyroles · September 7, 2013

    Brilliant ! I’ll share it with your permission Sara. Thanks.

  55. Nayla El-Khoury Malouf · September 7, 2013

    So powerful and true. Everyone should read it…

  56. Acile Sleiman El Saadi · September 7, 2013

    “The red line should be war. That is the real red line.” Well said Sara El-Yafi.

  57. Haitham N. Haddad · September 7, 2013

    Brilliant writing. I had to share it.

  58. Aboelkassem Elmasry · September 7, 2013

    Great one Sara, keep writing. Thank you

  59. Ghada S. · September 7, 2013

    A MUST READ
    TWO THUMBS UP with an A+

  60. Sara El-Yafi · September 7, 2013

    Thank you so much to each and every one of you for your generous comments and shares. It makes all the difference in this world to know that there are fellow thinking and feeling human beings who understand the extreme calamity of war, and when given the choice, would rightfully stand against it for there is no other way that we can progress as a human civilization. Thank you.

  61. Hussein Chehab · October 25, 2013

    Incredible writing, I applaud your elaborative refined description.
    Hussein C

  62. Omar Katanani · October 25, 2013

    Brilliant. Thank you Sara 🙂

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