Syria’s war must end

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Stephen Hawking is the author of “A Brief History of Time” and a former professor of mathematics at the University of Cambridge.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that the universe had existed forever. The reason humanity was not more developed, he believed, was that floods or other natural disasters repeatedly set civilization back to the beginning.

Today, humans are developing ever faster. Our knowledge is growing exponentially and with it, our technology. But humans still have the instincts, and in particular the aggressive impulses, that we had in caveman days. Aggression has had definite advantages for survival, but when modern technology meets ancient aggression the entire human race and much of the rest of life on Earth is at risk.

Today in Syria we see modern technology in the form of bombs, chemicals and other weapons being used to further so-called intelligent political ends.

But it does not feel intelligent to watch as more than 100,000 people are killed or while children are targeted. It feels downright stupid, and worse, to prevent humanitarian supplies from reaching clinics where, as Save the Children will document in a forthcoming report, children are having limbs amputated for lack of basic facilities and newborn babies are dying in incubators for lack of power.

What’s happening in Syria is an abomination, one that the world is watching coldly from a distance. Where is our emotional intelligence, our sense of collective justice?

Written By: Stephen Hawking
continue to source article at washingtonpost.com

21 COMMENTS

  1. Wizzard. Stephen Hawking may be a great astro-physicist but his understanding of world politics is abysmal. Sorry, Stephen, but the international community has not stood by as silent observers, doing nothing, while the Syrian tragedy unfolds. The U.S., Saudi Arabia, Quatar, France, Turkey and Jordan, to name just a few, have been actively supporting armed, violent opposition in an attempt to replace the Syrian leadership with someone who will take orders from the US, and failing this, at least have the country destroyed. The UN needs to insist on two things: all foreign jihadists leave the country and stop arms from entering. Hawking’s statement appears to support foreign military intervention. The last thing the world needs now is another US military invasion.

  2. What’s happening in Syria is an abomination, one that the world is watching coldly from a distance. Where is our emotional intelligence, our sense of collective justice…?

    He answers as he asks, it’s at a distance, Stephen.

  3. Wizzard. Stephen Hawking may be a great astro-physicist but his understanding of world politics is abysmal. Sorry, Stephen, but the international community has not stood by as silent observers, doing nothing, while the Syrian tragedy unfolds. The U.S., Saudi Arabia, Quatar, France, Turkey and Jordan…

    Too true. After the lessons of Iraq & Afghanistan who can blame Western powers for not *intervening in Syria- damned if they do….etc.
    This has evolved into a sectarian war, essentially so intervention would probably unite the warring factions against the infidel invaders.

    It is for the warring parties to enforce rules of engagement- but as they are Islamic, their values don’t correspond to ‘western’ ideas such as the Geneva Convention. Can’t see any practical way to alleviate the suffering.

    *Diplomacy is failing in Syria, Obama acknowledges. Duh!

    • In reply to #4 by Fritz:

      After the lessons of Iraq & Afghanistan who can blame Western powers for not *intervening in Syria- damned if they do….etc. This has evolved into a sectarian war, essentially so intervention would probably unite the warring factions against the infidel invaders.

      Actually, the situation in Muslim communities is a bit more complicated than that. For one thing, quite a few Muslims would like to see democracies take hold in several countries, but aren’t convinced that the USA actually want to introduce it, given the USA’s history of supporting authoritarian regimes. Basically, most of the Muslim citizens in North Africa and the Middle East want many of the same things we do, such as free speech, women’s rights, religious pluralism and equality, and non-violent ways to achieve those ends. By that account, their allegiance to Sharia and so on is symbolic and allegorical in the same way that it is for many liberal Christians.

      • In reply to #10 by Zeuglodon:

        their allegiance to Sharia and so on is symbolic and allegorical

        I would like to think so BUT… the Muslims that matter, ie those leading and following the various sects (‘extremists’) are profoundly opposed to democracy as ‘unIslamic’. The majority may well profess their desire to have democratic government but that’s not the way Islam operates; it’s a top-down theocratic dictatorship [c.f. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, etc].

        As in Egypt they vote according to Muslim precepts and are horrified with the result. Most muslims [and I have been challenged on this before] are unbelievably ignorant of the Koran and Hadith. This is no surprise as they are indoctrinated from birth and are obliged to believe without question, as the Koran mandates and what they hear from Imams.

        You can easily research this data. I fear you are mistaken re Islam and its aims and purpose, one of which is to keep the faithful in the dark.
        I’ve head-butted with hundreds of Muslims, on line and face to face and ALWAYS it’s the same defensive denials and cliched statements
        I hear. Very few Muslims seem to be able to face the truth because they see it as a grave threat, or western propaganda, or just plain lies.
        It truly is disheartening. Symbolic? Don’t think so.

        PS just came across this little gem which illustrates my point, that Islamic thought is dominated by Koranic teachings—

        The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) moved quickly on Tuesday to distance itself from a “sons of pigs” reference to India, England and Australia made by former chairman Ijaz Butt.
        Butt, head of the PCB between 2008-11, made the comment as he came out of the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore after a meeting with current chairman Najam Sethi to discuss the structural changes at the International Cricket Council (ICC) ruling body.

        This repeats koranic verses aimed at Jews– Q7:166, 2:65, and 5:60 and Butt extends it to the kuffar. 2014, unbelievable.

  4. I have no idea what to do with Syria. They seem to be stuck between a terrible dictatorship and a bunch of islamist loonies. It was such a nice country. The West can’t do much, I cannot see how we can ethically go into the conflict in support of either side.

    We could just go back to the time when the West solved all their problems by taking over the lot of them and colonising. After all that worked out so well in the end…

    I’m giving money to various charities who work in the region. That seems to be the only ethically correct thing I can do at this point in time. I will refuse to support my government if they dare get us involved in another dubious war in the middle east.

    I truly feel sorry for the people of Syria.

  5. You know, given that Richard Dawkins is occasionally accused of being Eurocentric and semi-racist, posting a euphemistic version of “the white man’s burden” on this site is probably not a great idea. The idea that those poor brown-skinned barbarians over there will never be able to advance without help from the civilized west is really insulting — especially given that our intervention is largely what caused the problems in the first place.

  6. Stephen Hawking makes a plea for a humanitarian response to the plight of children in the Syrian conflict in the context of philosophical reflections on the importance of applying universal moral standards. This is a position which deserves support and not sour and inaccurate comment.

  7. Well Professor Hawking, I have come to the conclusion that part of the world is not worth one more Allied life. Dig them out of one dung heap and they just seem to follow Mo into a different but deeper pile. I hate to come off so ethno-critical but enough is enough.

    We did such a bang-up job spreading democracy (admittedly no longer practiced in the US) and free markets in Viet Nam with all of Southeast Asia to follow domino style that Dubbie Bush was told by god to do it again in the Middle East where it has once again worked without the merest trace of hiccups.

    Stephen we all watch the unfoldings in Syria with horror but what would you have us do? The odds strongly favor the replacement regime being more radical and distastful than this one in the long run. Sending troops is out. Carpet bombing, while effective (if unnecessarily harsh) in WWII is out.

    You might sell me, however, on a long-term program of taking out the assholes at the top until someone at the top realized that being an asshole was a life-expectancy deal breaker. It’s why god gave us the option of drone diplomacy. Screw the democratic fair trial process- in cases like this and Nuremberg it’s only window dressing anyway. Surgically take out Assad. Then when he is succeded by some lieutenant or other who saber-rattles about how evil we are, take him out and on down the line until someone gets it.

    This is, of course, unlike me. But then maybe not. I’ve just (as has Hawking) had enough. But first things first- Kim, you’re up and Obama is pitching.

  8. More on Muslim attitudes to democracy and ‘allegorical’ views of sharia and jihad-

    The dispute between Iran and the U.S., [Chief Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari] explains here, is the dispute between theism and humanism. The Iranians’ struggle is intrinsically Islamic, he argues, peppering his case with numerous Qur’an quotes. And remember: “The Prophet of Islam has said, ‘Whoever has not fought for his Imam or does not wish for Jihad, he will die a hypocrite.’”
    TEHRAN (FNA)- ‘Why are we ready for a fight’ is the question whose answer will make the US and Israeli presidents realize that our preparedness for battle is not a bluff, but is a reality with deep roots in our religious tenets, which has grown into our culture as Iranians.

    No room there for allegory…

    • In reply to #13 by Fritz:

      More on Muslim attitudes to democracy and ‘allegorical’ views of sharia and jihad-

      Focussing on the evils of Islam in general when the issue is the suffering of the people of Syria, especially the children of Syria, shows exactly the lack of compassion that Hawking is deploring. Waging verbal jihad against Muslims everywhere instead of addressing the humanitarian issue, illustrates the aggressive attitudes which threaten life on the planet. Certainly, it’s right to oppose the intellectual and moral barbarism of Islam but not to the extent that it makes us forget our common humanity.

      • In reply to #15 by aldous:

        In reply to #13 by Fritz:

        Focussing on the evils of Islam in general when the issue is the suffering of the people of Syria, especially the children of Syria, shows exactly the lack of compassion that Hawking is deploring. Waging verbal jihad against Muslims everywhere instead of addressing the humanitarian issue, illustrates the aggressive attitudes which threaten life on the planet. Certainly, it’s right to oppose the intellectual and moral barbarism of Islam but not to the extent that it makes us forget our common humanity.

        What are you talking about? In your multiculturalist fueled Islamophilic haze you seemed to have read things
        that the Professor hasn’t mentioned. I admit, the professor is ignorant about the complexity of the politics involving
        in that area, and ignorant of how the US military has shown itself to be war hungry and money hungry.

        But I can’t see anything in his article where he outright called out on Islam.
        I think you are overreacting and mistook what some other members have stated with what the Professor had stated…

    • In reply to #13 by Fritz:

      More on Muslim attitudes to democracy and ‘allegorical’ views of sharia and jihad-

      The dispute between Iran and the U.S., [Chief Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari] explains here, is the dispute between theism and humanism. The Iranians’ struggle is intrinsically Islamic, he argues, peppering his case with numerous Qur’an quotes. And remember: “The Prophet of Islam has said, ‘Whoever has not fought for his Imam or does not wish for Jihad, he will die a hypocrite.’” TEHRAN (FNA)- ‘Why are we ready for a fight’ is the question whose answer will make the US and Israeli presidents realize that our preparedness for battle is not a bluff, but is a reality with deep roots in our religious tenets, which has grown into our culture as Iranians.

      No room there for allegory…

      Or citations, apparently. Below is a link to the full article by Catholic blogger and lunatic [Robert Spencer](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Spencer_(author), founder and director of Jihad Watch, which promotes “an Islamophobic worldview and conspiracy theories” and is sponsored by the David Horowitz Freedom Center and the Israeli far right.

      (On second thought, I can see why Fritz chose not to mention the provenance of his quotation)

      State-controlled Iranian news agency explains that Iran is ready to fight U.S. because of Islam, by Robert Spencer

      For the life of me I can’t figure out how Alireza Forqani became Mohammad Ali Jafari in the transition from article to quotation.


      Moron… sorry, more on Mr Spencer here:

      Southern Poverty Law Centre: Muslim Basher Robert Spencer Shows White Nationalist Colors

      And some other folks whose names may or may not be familiar:

      The Anti-Muslim Inner Circle

  9. Stephen Hawking wrote a letter.
    Sent it to the Post.
    Perhaps you might have read it.
    (Prob’ly missed by most.)

    Published on the 14th.
    Valentine’s that day.
    Spoke of Aristotle
    And what he had to say.

    How he’d thought the universe
    Had been here all along.
    And how we now have instruments
    To show how he’d been wrong.

    He warned that now those instruments,
    Used in warlike ways,
    (While humans still have instincts meant
    For our caveman days)

    Can set the stage for tragedies
    On scales not seen before.
    And just beyond, catastrophes.
    Extinction at our door.

    Yes, he mentioned Syria.
    Its children give a face
    To what we know so clearly now
    Is just the latest case

    Of cavemen settling differences
    The good old fashioned way.
    But now the only difference is
    That every single day

    Technology advances.
    In smoke we’ll all go up.
    Our one and only chance is now
    We finally must grow up

  10. “Wizzard…actively supporting armed, violent opposition in an attempt to replace the Syrian leadership with someone who will take orders from the US,” As opposed to the incumbent asswipe who takes orders from Russia and a few from China for good measure. Global inaction because the bully Putin said butt out – that’s our playground and arms customer – Islamist groups rushing in to fill the vacuum and now fighting each other like a savagely real parody of the Judean People’s front etc. Everyone’s at fault on the world stage for the usual reasons of greed and politics and as usual the most innocent suffer the most horribly. Hawkins understands global politics rather well; he knows it f**kin’ sucks

  11. An ideology that encourages violence against those that do not share their worldview is doomed to self-destruct or be destroyed. Encouraging martyrdom and other violent primitive actions to prove your Manhood or faith is irrational and insane, this insanity is widespread on both sides of this conflict so where does one start?
    Both sides want to peace, both have “god” on their side and agree the other side started it.It is terribly sad, and tragic this sort of obscenity will continue to happen as long as man made gods are as insane then their creators.

  12. CIA backed mercenaries with the help of the Saudis are the rebel forces…USA started the trouble..Obama and the Neo-con oil and there greedy counterparts have eyed up all the riches of the middle east..the world won’t stand silently by…they already know the Oil buck Banksters are behind this…that’s why China and Russia stepped up to the plate to these New World Order bastards..and lets not forget the Brits who set up Isreal with Rothchild Zionist money and their lowly bum chums the Canadians whos Prime Minster is wiping off his chin from kneeling in front of Obama/Bush…fact…The USA is active in terrorist action in 47 countries right now…and that’s the ones we know about…this is what Mr. Hawkings was saying….it’s just that he is more gentle and polite then I. :)…

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