Why the Syrian strike was justified


Listen to the 10 min audio

Read the transcript:

DONALD TRUMP TIES HIS SYRIAN ACTION TO PAST PRESIDENTS AND ACTIONS

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, last Saturday morning, we all awoke to the news that the U.S. had led an attack on alleged Syrian chemical weapon facilities. Harry, the big question now is what’s next? Where do we go from here?

DR. REEDER: Well, it was interesting to hear the administration’s comment. It seemed like they were intentionally hearkening back to the two previous presidential administrations. First, as it was stated, this is a president who when he draws a red line and says there will be consequences, does inflict those consequences and then, secondly, after it was done, President Trump said “Mission accomplished.”

And those two phrases are so embedded now into the media culture. “Yes, if I do draw a red line, there will be consequences and this is an example. In other words, I’m not going to say there’s a red line and there’ll be consequences and then erase the line and have no consequences when the line had been crossed.”

And then, secondly, “Mission accomplished,” may have been a way to say, “Actually, this was the mission. I don’t have a mission beyond this. The mission was to take out the three chemical factories and the mission’s now accomplished by Great Britain, France and the United States.”

WHY DID WE GET INVOLVED IN DOMESTIC ISSUES IN SYRIA?

Many are responding negatively, “This is a sovereign nation and we don’t have a right to do this. American interests are not at stake.” Well, I would say to my Christian friends who say this on this issue that is an echo of the 1930s. You have Adolf Hitler invading Poland, literally cleansing away Polish resistance and declaring that his troops were authorized to kill women, children and civilians, which they did by the thousands. And then, of course, there was the appeasement to Chamberlain and the statement, “We can’t intervene on such war crimes.”

Chemical weapons are actually agreed as war crimes, the use of them. All the countries have signed off that they are not to be used and almost all countries have destroyed them, at least the known chemical that they had developed.

Even as we are doing this program, we are being informed that there is an agency going in that is equipped to determine whether chemical warfare was used. And, in particular, this infliction of chemical agents — probably chlorine gas — was dropped by barrel drums from airplanes that fell into the Syrian city, taking out hundreds of lives and casualties and the documentation of the films that were observed had all of the evidences of chlorine gas.

NO U.N. ACTION MEANT SOMEONE HAD TO ACT

And so the question is why hasn’t the UN acted? And, interestingly, after the attack, Russia brought forth a resolution condemning France, England and the United States. It failed, as it had to fail, because guess who is on the executive council that has the power of veto: France, England and the United States. And, of course, the United States has brought resolutions condemning Syria’s use of chemical warfare but guess who sits on that same council — Russia — and Russia and China have vetoed those because, in reality, Syria as it has been — before Russia there was the Soviet Union and the Soviet Union established Assad’s father and the Soviet Union continues to prop it up along with Iran. Therefore, Russia and Iran are the patron states behind Syria and maintaining Assad’s authority and power within Syria.

THIS WAS A SAFE AND STRUCTURED ATTACK

However, I read of people saying, “Hey, this is not something that we should be involved in.” I believe it is something that we should be involved in and I actually think this was appropriate. It was a measured strike. Clearly, they had made communications to remove human life from those sites — the Russians, obviously, were not there so they experienced no casualties, although they occupied places throughout the country in propping up Syria — and there were no human casualties so that means if you destroyed plants and there are no human casualties that meant some kind of advanced warning was likely given.

And so, what the United States did was, with pinpoint accuracy, took out those plants that manufacture chemicals. Why didn’t we destroy those plants if we knew they were there? I think it was appropriate. We can’t tell people what industries they can have — because chemicals have multiple uses — but, once they showed the usage of the atrocity of a war crime in gassing their own people with a genocidal assault, then to respond in such a manner, given the paralysis of the United Nations, by punishing what are agreed to be war crimes.

BELIEVERS, HUMANS ARE AT RISK, EVEN POTENTIALLY US

For those who say to me — particularly believers I’ve talked to — “We shouldn’t do that,” well, how course can our consciences be that we can see women and children foaming at the mouth and we will not stop a dictator? I’m not talking about going in and changing regime, just going in and telling them, “We’re not going to take over your country, but you cannot do what are agreed war crimes. You cannot gas your own people or any other people.”

And, by the way, if he can gas them, all he’s got to do is put it in a plane and fly it another hundred miles and now he’s over Israel and now he’s over Jordan — all of those countries that are around him. The patron states of Russia and Iran through Syria then take that chemical warfare to other nations.

WE CANNOT STAY SILENT ON WAR BUT MUST BE CLEAR AND CONSISTENT

However, whether they do that or not, the fact that it’s done to his own people, we cannot say, “Well, that’s a matter of internal politics.” No, it’s not a matter of internal politics — that’s a war crime. That is evil. That is evil and there’s two ways that you stop evil. One is the Gospel of saving grace in Jesus Christ that changes the heart whereby evil originates and changes men and women. Therefore, let’s send missionaries into Syria, which we are doing. Some of our own people from Briarwood have recently been there and I know we have been there and I know of some very special things that are being done that I cannot publicize on this program to bring the Gospel into Syria.

Secondly, there needs to be an external public policy that says, “Here is a red line: You cannot commit war crimes upon your people and kill women and children with gas. That will not be allowed.”
What did they do? They took out the factories that would produce those chemical agents. And to stand against it to me is no different than the confessing church in Europe and in Germany that knew what Hitler was doing in the cleansing of the Jews and then did not say anything but were silent because they were allowed to function.

And people have said, if we do this, Assad will bring warfare against Christians. Assad’s already bringing warfare against Christians and his statement that he allows Christians there is no different than Hitler telling the confessing church in Germany, “Just trust me and don’t worry, you can entrust the presence and security of your church to me.”

No, we don’t do that and we want to speak the public policy and, if necessary, evil has to be confronted. We don’t want it to have to be confronted with warfare acts, but when chemical warfare is present, chemical warfare must be stopped.

DON’T STOP WITH POLITICAL ACTION; BRING GOSPEL ACTION

And then we, of course, bring the Gospel to the hearts of those who would use chemical warfare as a tactic but we also bring force against evil that it is not allowed to move with impunity. We do it constantly in our own country. We go into a neighborhood and will plan a church to bring the Gospel to the hearts of men and women.

We also put policemen on every corner saying, “You cannot do what is criminal.” Well, we have agreed chemical warfare is criminal. Therefore, you cannot do it. We don’t want to be the world’s policeman, but those who have signed onto the reality that chemical warfare is a war crime must punish the crime if it is used with impunity against men, women and children.  

Therefore, I believe that it was an appropriate response, it was a declared mission — “We’re taking out the factories” — therefore, the mission was accomplished. Now, are there other factories? I don’t have the slightest idea. Will he use it again? I don’t know, but he at least will think twice and that, to some degree, will be beneficial for women and children within Syria.

COMING UP: PAUL RYAN’S DECISION TO LEAVE CONGRESS

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, on tomorrow’s edition of “Today in Perspective,” I want to take you to a Politico article, “Why Paul Ryan Has Called It Quits”.

DR. REEDER: Let me confess, I happen to be a Paul Ryan fan, but I’m going to try to do this dispassionately because his stated reasons, both publicly and privately, give us some insights that we need to examine concerning the political landscape in our country at the moment, its toxic nature and the opportunities that still remain. We’ll deal with that on Friday’s edition of “Today in Perspective”.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

11 hours ago

VIDEO: Prisons could be built with COVID-19 funds, Shelby endorses Katie Britt for Senate, Brooks battles with Swalwell as a new poll shows big lead and more on Alabama Politics This Week …

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and political consultant Mecca Musick take you through Alabama’s biggest political stories, including:

— Will Alabama really use COVID-19 relief funds to build prisons?

— Does Katie Britt’s entering of the U.S. Senate race shake things up, or has U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) already won this race?

— Can U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) keep the more radical members of the Democratic Party at bay?

108

Jackson and Musick are joined by former U.S. Attorney Jay Town to discuss the issues facing the state of Alabama this week.

Jackson closes the show with a “Parting Shot” directed at those who want to use the illegally acquired tax returns of the uber-wealthy to push for higher taxes. He argues the released returns show that we should implement a flat tax and do away with all deductions.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN and on Talk 99.5 from 10AM to noon.

15 hours ago

Auburn’s David Housel tackles more than sports in ‘From the Backbooth at Chappy’s’

When David Housel retired from Auburn University in 2006, after a legendary career as athletics director for the Tigers, it wasn’t long before his wife urged him to get busy again – and a deli on Glenn Avenue in Auburn was the beneficiary.

“Susan wanted me to do something to get out of the house,” Housel recalls. “I started going to Chappy’s to drink coffee, read the paper. Pretty soon, Kenny Howard would meet me there, and it just kind of grew from there.”

In short order, friends of Housel began to gather, first a few one day a week and then, just prior to the pandemic, 12-16 people nearly every day of the week.

They meet at Chappy’s, where a plaque commemorates Housel’s booth, and they talk – about sports, of course, but about pretty much anything that’s on their minds.

537

Housel began to write essays about those mornings, posting them to Facebook. He’s now compiled more than 100 of those pieces into a new book, “From the Backbooth at Chappy’s: Stories of the South: Football, Politics, Religion, and More.” It’s officially released next week at a series of book signings at Chappy’s in the Auburn area from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. each day: Tuesday in Auburn, Wednesday in Montgomery and Thursday in Prattville.

“Consider this Housel unleashed,” the author says. “Most of the stuff I’ve written in my life has been about Auburn on an Auburn platform. Even after I retired, I was a representative of Auburn, even though I wasn’t working there. This is not an Auburn book. It’s about football, politics, religion and more.”

“From the Backbooth at Chappy’s,” with a foreword by Auburn graduate and acclaimed journalist Rheta Grimsley Johnson, evolved as Housel’s morning gatherings at Chappy’s evolved, though he began writing the essays fairly early in the process.

“When something is in your mind, in your heart, in your head, if you’re a writer, it just has to come out, and it just comes through your fingers,” Housel says. “Turns out people like to read it, so I got the Facebook page. I shared thoughts and essays and that kind of thing. It was not a planned thing.”

When COVID-19 came along, Housel decided to listen to a few folks who told him his musings would make a good book.

“I had been thinking a lot about it, and it was time to do it,” Housel says.

Housel has written six other books. Most have to do with Auburn sports history, but one, “From the Desk of David Housel,” is similar to “From the Backbooth at Chappy’s.”

“That one was primarily sports, but it had some other things in it,” Housel says. “This one is about the other stuff, but it has some sports in it.”

Though the three topics in his book’s title – football, politics and religion  – are often the subjects people are warned not to bring up if they want to keep the peace, Housel and his friends don’t shy away from any of them. Housel especially gravitates toward religious topics.

“I like the ones that I hope make people think,” he says of his essays. “The good Lord gave us a mind, and we’re supposed to use it. Too few people who call themselves Christians do what the Lord said and use their minds. … Faith has got to be built not on challenging God but questioning God. I think God likes that, because it shows we’re engaged and that we care.”

Now that the pandemic is ending, the Backbooth at Chappy’s events are slowly but surely returning to normal. On Mondays, Housel eats two eggs scrambled, lean bacon and a helium biscuit; on Tuesdays maybe a parfait with granola; on Wednesdays, it’s blueberry pancakes, and Fridays a waffle.

What remains constant is the conversation. And the writing.

“I’m still writing the Backbooth, and since the first of the year, I’ve written a couple I think are book-worthy,” Housel says. “I started out doing maybe one a week, but I’m old enough that I don’t have to meet a self-imposed deadline. When the spirit moves me, I write.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

16 hours ago

State Rep. Pringle pushes to ban critical race theory in public schools — ‘Woke culture indoctrination,’ ‘Needs to be stopped in its tracks’

Last week, Florida’s Board of Education banned so-called “critical race theory” from its public schools, and it is a move State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) hopes to follow in Alabama.

Critical race theory, a belief that racism is ingrained in some of America’s sacred institutions, is widely panned by critics because it distorts and weaponizes history for political gain.

Friday, Pringle discussed his prefiled bill for the Alabama Legislature’s 2022 regular session to prohibit critical race theory from being taught in Alabama’s public schools.

318

“It’s simply a bill that says in public education, you can’t teach or indoctrinate our children with critical race theory,” he said. “People are waking up all around the nation to how bad this stuff is. I mean, this is woke cancel culture gone completely amuck. They want to completely disregard our 14th and 15th Amendment rights, the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act. If you don’t agree with them — here’s what’s crazy: They want to send you to a reeducation camp. Think about that, a reeducation camp. Don’t they do that in China, Russia and North Korea?  That’s how bad this stuff is. Either you agree with them or you have to be sent off to a reeducation camp.”

“This is just indoctrination — the woke culture indoctrination of our children,” Pringle continued. “That’s all it is and it needs to be stopped in its tracks. I mean, our children need to learn history and we ought to open a frank discussion about history — the good, the bad. But this is not about good or bad. This is teaching our children that our nation is a bad nation, is an evil nation and is not the great country that we live in. We are the safest, freest people in the world and that’s what our children need to learn.”

“Do we have problems? Yeah,” he added. “Have we done bad things? Yeah. But we’re still the greatest nation in the history of the world.”

According to the Mobile County Republican lawmaker, the response to the effort thus far has been positive and supportive.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

19 hours ago

Why Sylacauga marble is known around the world

If you’ve ever visited the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. and stared up at the translucent marble ceiling, you’ve witnessed a piece of Alabama history. The ceiling is made of white marble mined in Talladega County’s Sylacauga (appropriately known as the Marble City).

In addition to lending its natural treasure to some of the nation’s most notable buildings, Sylacauga also holds the title for having the longest deposit of marble in the world. The bed of stone runs 32 miles long, a mile and a half wide, and more than 600 feet deep. The marble found in this quarry is especially desirable for two key characteristics: its purity and its durability. When paired together, these distinct qualities make Alabama marble some of the most desired in the world for large-scale buildings and monuments, as well as homes and sculptures.

607

The History of Alabama Marble

sylacauga marble

The Sylacauga Quarry (Sylacauga Marble Festival/Facebook)

Marble is formed when limestone is subjected to extreme pressure and heat. In Sylacauga, the conditions are perfect for the formation of metamorphic marble. Sylacauga’s massive deposit was first discovered by Native Americans, but it wasn’t quarried until 1834, 20 years after army surgeon Dr. Edward Gantt stumbled upon the vein while passing through with General Andrew Jackson’s army.

In the years that followed Gantt’s discovery, Sylacauga’s marble business thrived. More quarries popped up, mining the marble for everything from funerary monuments to building projects to sculptures. By the 1960s, the use of the quarried marble shifted toward the utilitarian. Rather than being mined in huge chunks for building material, the marble was being ground down for use in products like cosmetics, diapers, magazine paper, fertilizer, fiberglass, toothpaste, and chewing gum. In 1969, marble was named Alabama’s state rock.

A Timeless Treasure

Sylacauga Quarry (Sylacauga Marble Festival/Facebook)

Today the charge for Alabama marble is being led by the Swindal family, who own Alabama Marble Mineral & Mining Co. (AM3). AM3’s 50-acre quarry in Sylacauga is the world’s only supplier and leading distributor of Alabama marble. Owner Roy Swindal’s goal is to reintroduce the world to Alabama marble, once again marketing it as a prized material for both commercial and consumer construction. According to the Alabama Department of Archives and History, around 30 million tons of marble have been pulled from the ground in Sylacauga since 1900. The Swindals hope to add to that number by continuing and improving upon the state’s tradition for many years to come.

Marble Mania

sylacauga marble

Sculptor Enzo Torcoletti at the Sylacauga Marble Festival (Sylacauga Marble Festival/Facebook)

It’s only fitting that a town built on marble pay tribute to the stone that brought its success. For the past 13 years, the city has celebrated its marble mining heritage with the 12-day Magic of Marble Festival. The festival, typically held in April, features several activities and events that are all free and fun for the whole family. Festival participants can take a tour of operational quarries and visit the Gantts/IMERYS Observation Point that overlooks the town’s historic first quarry. The creative side of marble is put on display at Blue Bell Park, where 25 sculptors create original pieces made entirely of marble. On the final day of the festival, the finished pieces are displayed and sold at nearby B.B. Comer Library. Other activities include a 5K run and a scavenger hunt.

If you can’t wait for next year’s festival and you want to see Alabama’s famous white marble in action now, there are several locations around the state to see it put to good use. In Birmingham, try the John Hand Building, Wells Fargo headquarters, City Federal building, or the Chamber of Commerce. If you’re in Montgomery, don’t miss the “Head of Christ” sculpture at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. It was created by Italian sculptor Giuseppe Moretti, who also happens to be the artist behind Birmingham’s Vulcan.

(Courtesy of SoulGrown)

20 hours ago

The economics of paying ransom

The cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline by the hacker group DarkSide disrupted gasoline supplies across the Southeast. The company caused a stir by paying a 75 Bitcoin ransom to DarkSide. America historically has been opposed to paying evildoers, as reflected in the slogan, “Millions for defense, but not one cent in tribute,” and President Jefferson sending the Navy and Marines to fight the Barbary Pirates.

Ransomware raises many economic issues. A first question is, do hackers ever give the data back if paid? DarkSide provided Colonial Pipeline a key to decrypt their data. According to Proofpoint, this is the norm: 70% of ransom payers got their data back, 20% never got their data back and 10% received a second ransom demand.

585

From an economic perspective, this is not surprising. About two dozen groups, identifying themselves by name and known to insurance companies, carry out most of the sophisticated attacks. Insurers would never recommend payment in the future to a group which has reneged. The hackers must deliver as promised to make money.

Some have suggested making payment of ransom for cyberattacks illegal. If no one ever paid ransom, the hackers could not make money. Refusing to pay ransom though faces two significant economic challenges.

The first is time consistency. Kidnapping illustrates this concept. Before an event, the incentive exists to say, “We will never pay ransom.” If the bad guys believe this, they will never invest the time, effort and expense to stage a kidnapping. Once they hold hostages, however, our incentive changes; negotiating just this one time now makes sense. Our policy to never pay ransom is not credible.

Collective action poses the second challenge. Businesses collectively have an interest in not rewarding cybercrime, yet individual businesses suffer these attacks. A business which does not pay ransom benefits other businesses, creating the challenge. Why should Continental Pipeline suffer losses to make other businesses less likely to be attacked?

Why do businesses pay ransom? Reports mention several factors. A business may face a closure of unknown length and cost. Customers’ personal information will be sold if ransom is not paid, leading to fines and bad publicity. And the hackers might sell proprietary information to competitors.

Good economists know better than to second guess business managers’ decisions. Decisions to pay ransom often involve the business’ executives, its insurance carrier and tech security experts. They know the options and likely costs and should make a good decision, despite the pressure of a crisis.

Insurance companies and government regulations reduce organizations’ vulnerability to hackers, which is good. But what about channeling President Jefferson and going after the hackers? Most of the hacker groups operate in Russia, which provides Safe Haven as long as the hackers do not target Russian companies. Some law enforcement options may exist. Federal prosecutors apparently recovered most of the Bitcoins paid to DarkSide.

Crime is a very costly way to transfer wealth. Stolen merchandise typically sells for one-third (or less) of market value. A criminal might have to steal thousands in property to net $1,000. Ransomware appears much more wasteful than traditional theft. Consider just the value of the time Americans spent searching for gas during the disruption. Remember then that the ransom was about $4.4 million.

Cybercrime makes us poorer. The hackers and defenders at tech security companies are highly skilled computer programmers. But instead of making new apps or games, they are hacking or defending existing computer systems. Add to this the service disruption during cyberattacks, the reduced use of technology for fear of being hacked and the time spent on security training. The costs may be $1 trillion annually, or one percent of global GDP.

We must guard here against comparing the real world to an imagined utopia. We cannot costlessly protect our property from thieves or our computers from malware, or make people no longer willing to steal from others. Economics teaches that there are no perfect solutions in life, only tradeoffs. Vigilance, antivirus programs and backup are the tradeoffs we face with cybercrime.

Daniel Sutter is the Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics with the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University and host of Econversations on TrojanVision. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Troy University.