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Monday, January 21, 2019

For more than two decades, Kenneth Roth has led the outstanding global team of advocates and monitors at Human Rights Watch. Under his leadership as executive director, HRW has expanded enormously both in reach – now operating in more than 80 countries – and influence. Government officials, journalists, and citizens around the world pay close attention to its reports and statements, documenting war crimes and sometimes even helping to bring war criminals to justice. No doubt that is a source of personal as well as professional satisfaction to Roth, whose father fled Nazi Germany to escape the Holocaust.

 The Syria dossier compiled by Roth’s colleagues bulges with evidence against Bashar al-Assad and his regime – historically among the Mideast’s habitual and gross violators of human rights. As Congress considers President Obama’s plan to punish Assad with missile strikes for allegedly using chemical weapons against civilians, our editor-in-chief Joe Conason spoke with Ken Roth about the Syrian crisis.

Joe Conason:  What is your view of the debate over the president’s request for authorization to use military force in Syria?

Kenneth Roth: Human Rights Watch has not taken a position for or against a military response to the Syrian chemical attack. Our principal concern is ensuring that whatever response takes place, including a very possible military response, be done in a way that maximizes the capacity to protect civilians, not just from chemical weapons, but also from the conventional weapons that have been responsible for the vast majority of civilian deaths to date.

Conason: How would the United States best achieve that end if it does go forward with a military campaign?

Roth:  If there is a military attack, our concern is that it be done in a way that both deters further use of chemical weapons and also somehow degrades Assad’s capacity to continue to commit mass atrocities against the civilian population, particularly those living in rebel-held areas. So what that would mean is targeting military assets that are of significance to Assad, [which] would have a deterrent value to him to see them destroyed, but ideally, also, some of the tools that are being used to target civilians and indiscriminately fire upon civilians. Something like targeting the airplanes, the helicopters, the Scud missiles of the Assad regime would serve both of those purposes. These are among the tools that he uses to indiscriminately kill civilians. They also are significant military assets, and, therefore, would be felt as a deterrent if they were destroyed — you know, unlike various Bill Clinton-like pinprick attacks that you could see Assad sloughing off, and he’d be dancing in the streets saying he survived this attack without any significant damage to his military capacity.

Conason:  Some people have suggested a no-fly zone as an alternative U.S. policy in Syria. What’s your view of that?

Roth:  Well, first of all, as a factual matter, it’s actually not true that the majority of the civilian casualties are due to air attacks. Most civilian casualties are due to much more intimate forms of warfare, whether it’s just machine gun fire, or heavy weaponry, the sort of shelling or rocket attacks that don’t involve aircraft. So I think we have to recognize that even if Assad’s air capacity were degraded, there’s still lots of ways that he can kill people, and there’s still lots of concern about his killing machine.

As for a no-fly zone, I don’t see that as even being in the cards as a serious option for the Obama administration, for two reasons. It would require a long-term military commitment, and he seems to have no stomach for that. And second, it would require most likely taking out a significant portion of the Syrian air defenses, which, again, would require a larger military campaign than Obama seems to be contemplating. So I think that as people think through military options, they’re assuming the use of cruise missiles, which Obama has talked about, and more recently there’s discussion of possibly some attack aircraft, but still a relatively limited campaign.

Conason:  If the United States and other states possibly conduct a military strike against Syria, Ken, how should they prepare for the aftermath of that attack?

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33 responses to “Human Rights Watch’s Kenneth Roth: Protect Civilians From Syrian War Criminals, Increase Refugee Aid”

  1. ObozoMustGo says:

    Ohhhhh brother!!! Looks like The Memo is in full blown “cover Obozo’s a$$” mode again. It’s readily apparent to anyone objective that the leftist freaks here at The Memo care more about their messiah’s image than they do about reality. What is that reality? No one really knows who set off chemical weapons in their CIVIL WAR. This is all about Obozo making an idle threat with his “red line” statement and now being in the unpleasant position of taking sides in a war where there are no good guys. And the side he will be assisting happens to be radical jihadist muzzies from Al Qaeda and other terror groups who are sworn enemies of America. So, he either looks like a petulant and weak fool, or he sides with terrorists in a civil war spending American taxpayer dollars and risking American lives solely for the purpose of looking like a tough guy, with no American interest at stake. Of course, to the leftist freaks and Obozo zombies out here in The Memo world, Obozo’s image is waaaaayyyy more important than anyone else’s lives.

    The entire situation is 100% of Obozo’s own making. As usual, he will try to blame Republicans… Rush Limbaugh…. the world…. whomever he can blame. Anyone but himself. The guy never takes responsibility for anything including his own statements and actions. The world sees him for what he is…. a fraud… a weak-kneed, incompetent fraud. And they are laughing at him. He is making America look bad and this disgusts 80% of America.

    Have a nice day!

    “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” – Baroke WhoIsInsane Obozo, December 20, 2007

    • bikejedi says:

      Correct Obama made a dare to Assad with HIS Redline rhetoric . In essence he put his Dick out there and Assad stepped on it . Now Obama is all butt hurt because a lot of Americans view him as impotent and effemite . So now Obama wants to use the U S Military to aid Al Qaeda led rebels . The same Military he despises

      • ObozoMustGo says:

        Hey Jedi! Good point. Obozo will purposefully put American servicemen in harms way for his own ego…. which has been bruised badly in this self-created mess we have now. Impotent is a perfect word to describe Obozo. And bat sheet crazy is a perfect way to describe all of the leftist freaks who’d rather see WW3 than to have their messiah look impotent.

        Have a great day!

        “The Middle East is obviously an issue that has plagued the region for centuries.” –Tampa, Fla., Jan. 28, 2010 — Baroke WhoIsInsane Obozo showing the world yet again what an idiot he is.

        • bikejedi says:

          Great points as always that will probably be lost on this audience because while the message is true they just don’t like the messengers …( you and I )

          • ObozoMustGo says:

            Most of the leftist freak morons on this site are here precisely because they cannot tolerate the truth or any opposing views, especially the one’s that challenge their fantasies about their messiah. They willingly remain oblivious.

            Have a great day, Jedi!

            “The difference between being stupid and being a fool: A stupid person at least has an idea about their own inadequacies. The fool is oblivious to them, and is more inclined to believe their own fantasies and lies as truth.” – ObozoMustGo

          • bikejedi says:

            They definitely are intolerant to anyone other then another cult like devotee of the Muslim President . And just like Obama none of them believe that anyone who is critical of him deserve to be able to exercise freedom of speech . in that they are a lot like the Kenyan and the only thing in the Constitution they like is the 5th amendment

    • bhaggen says:

      And Putin is gonna come out of this smelling like a rose. He’s making Obozo look like his pet monkey and Putin, the organ grinder! You’d think he would have learned something from Bush…..power does that to the best of ’em. “Come-on my disciples, let me use those cool cruise thingies”

      • ObozoMustGo says:

        How are you haggen? Hope all is well.

        Of course Putin is coming out smelling like a rose. How could he not when compared to the impotent mental midget community organizer? I am disgusted with how Obozo is making America look weak and ineffective in geopolitics. This is a first in our history. This idiot makes Carter look good.

        Have a nice day!

        “Let me be absolutely clear. Israel is a strong friend of Israel’s. It will be a strong friend of Israel’s under a McCain…administration. It will be a strong friend of Israel’s under an Obama administration. So that policy is not going to change.” –Amman, Jordan, July 22, 2008 — Baroke WhoIsInsane Obozo showing the world yet again what an idiot he is.

  2. marty says:

    I wonder if Mr. Roth has done any research to see what type of human rights violations are being commited by Israel against the Palestinian people….or is discussing that anti semetic?

    • bikejedi says:

      No it’s just dumb . Hamas has done everything they can time and again to go against any kind of lasting peace in that region because they don’t want peace . They like the victim role and like having Israel to blame for their plight . They lob crude rocket attacks and terrorist attacks time and again at civilian centers and when Israel responds people on the left that are into ” Smart ” Foreign policy blame the people being attacked .

      • marty says:

        you must be referring to the lasting peace where the Palestinian’s get nothing and the Israeli’s get everything.

        • bikejedi says:

          Wrong if you look at the peace that Clinton almost brokered the Israeli’s were the ones who made every concession and the only proviso they had was that they wanted to maintain the security control of all the Religious sites in Jerusalem . Hamas was not equipped to do that nor would they have done that . Israel wanted all the shrines and sites protected out of respect for all the religions and history . Hamas probably would have buried any signs of Chritianity in the region …So no you are wrong and are just buying into Liberal anti semite rhetoric ..Why do you people hate the Jews who are our allies and back terrorist groups who hate us ?

          • marty says:

            On the contrary. Apparently, you have been buying into the Israeli propoganda set forth by AIPAC. Let’s not talk about Semantics and look at the result we have in the regions. Israel does indeed have everything, including the 4th largest military in the world. Not bad for a country roughly the size of rhode island. While they continue in their land grab and build settlements in what was formally agreed upon Palestinian territory, I would say that the Israeli’s got pretty much everything and the Palestinian’s nothing. Just look at the whole situation in the region and you can see how wealthy Israel lives daily compared to Palestinain’s refugees. Additionally they exist in an aparteid sttate controled by Irael where Palestinian;s are subjected to the bulldozing of their homes as well as Gestapo style tactics to enforce the aparteid state which Israel has created. I’m not saying that Israel doesn’t deserve a homeland but the Palestinian’s deserve one as well. They have been living i n the area for quite some time. Israel controls the water, electricity, raods, airways and evrything else that could possibly give the Palestinian’s a sense of self rule as well as living in the 21st century.

          • bikejedi says:

            With the Hate and Bias that the left ferments against Israel …With the biased rhetoric they use to brainwash you and in turn for you to brainwash other people and with our Muslim Presidents obvious disdain in re to Israel I have a hard time trying to understand why any Jew would EVER vote Dem . !st off when has Israel just started attacking their neighbors or the Palestinians unprovoked ? Yeah didn’t think so . It has been Israel that has been attacked on numerous occasions and by numerous Muslim countries . As for the Palestinians they have been in that desert for longer then Israel was a country and didn’t build anything there of note . It wasn’t until it became a Jewish homeland that cities infrastructure and civilization sprung up in that desert . To blame the Israeli’s because the Palestinians are poor is much like the class warfare rhetoric of the Occupy movement here . Much like a lot of the people here who buy into that rhetoric the Palestinians too want to remain permanent victims instead of trying to prosper themselves …As long as they can blame the Jews why not just wallow in self pity and blame someone else for your plight ..You are not poor because someone else is wealthy . I had a tenant who was a Palestinian from Ramallah and he would tell you it was the King of Jordan who is to blame for the Palestinian mess . My tenant was a history professor there and was there to see it all happen .When Israel became a Country he left them there with no life line or support . He abandoned those people there .. . In that country where the Jews are the ones who give them jobs . Yeah just keep hating on them though .

          • marty says:

            sorry to tell you this…but you are terribly misinformed. Not only do the Israeli’s own Israel..they seem to own America as well. Go to youtube abd type in a search on Israel and Palestine and watch first hand how The Israeli’s treat the Palestinians. I didn’t say the “Jews”…I said the Israeli’s/ I am a Jew..but I am not a Zionist Israeli.

          • bikejedi says:

            I think the same of you ( terribly misinformed and also buying into all the Liberal agenda anti Israel rhetoric ) the difference is that I have fact and history on my side of this argument and you have the anecdotal BS of a people that are happy to play the role of the Victim …oh those bad Israeli’s who are the bulk of our employers are just so evil and mean …Without those people the a lot of Palestinians wouldn’t have jobs …It isn’t Israel that choses to keep doing cowardly attacks against them and if the Palestinians have it so rough why don’t they ask their Muslim Brothers in Jordan and Syria to take them in and then maybe their would be a lasting peace …No one told them they had to stay and the Israelis didn’t tell them they had to leave either soooooo

          • marty says:

            the only thing you have on your side (other than your delusions), is that you’re a bigoted, contemptuous person who apparently thinks your opinion has greater value than anyone elses. You obviously show your ignorance when you suggest that Jews and Israeli’s are better than everyone else. You also seem to suggest that Palestinians are stupid and if they didn’t have Israel to push them around they would bever be able to do anything for themselves. I’m sure most Palestinians would disagree with you…and I’m sure most people would disagree with you as well

          • bikejedi says:

            Listen you keep on doing what our Anti Semite Muslim President wants you to do and that is to keep festering in your hate of a peaceful people and keep up the” winds of change pro Muslim rhetoric ” K . The difference between us isn’t that I think I am better then anyone else it is that I actually know Palestinians from there and I also understand history…the other factor is that I have no reason to back up our Muslim President or his anti semite ideology or his anti American ideology …He isn’t worth it .

          • idamag says:

            When the treaties are breached, the news is out there for everyone to see who breached it. It does not register with those who filter everything through their pre-conceived notions.

        • idamag says:

          Don’t waste your time on bikerjerk. He is unlearned and durn prowed of it.

          • marty says:

            you are absolutely right

          • bikejedi says:

            see above and please don’t get personal like idabitch

          • bikejedi says:

            You sir are darned dum and a prowd sheeple drone …Wars tend to make Countries break treaties and so does being relentlessly attacked by several Countries at once …You keep repeating our Muslim Presidents rhetoric of hate against a peaceful people and keep festering in that hate . You are a bitch punk and I’m through with yo bitch ass K.. I intend to show these posts to every Jewish person I know so they too can see what the left thinks of them .

    • idamag says:

      Good thought. Every time a truce is declared some hotheads violate it and often they are Israelis. We should put ourselves in Palestinian shoes. If someone came and bulldozed your house down to settle your land, you would be angry. People filtering everything through their biases, never notice the attacks on Palestine.

      • marty says:


      • bikejedi says:

        Yeah because taking rocket attack out of rocket attack and suicide bombing after suicide Bombing should just be met with what nothing …,Get over it and talk to people who live there . They will tell you the Israeli’s are willing to have peace and want that but everytime they try Hama’s refuses . You believe the rhetoric and agenda of our Muslim President and his Liberal administration .

  3. bikejedi says:

    Obama made the dare to Assad with ” HIS ” redline rhetoric and now he claims it is Congress’s and the International Community’s redline . He put his Dick out there and Assad emasculated him by stepping on it . Now Obama wants to use the U S Military to prove his manhood . The same Military he and the left despise and blame for everything …that is when they aren’t blaming achievers for achieving . At first Obama bragged that he didn’t need to follow the Constitution and could act alone . Sensing he had absolutely NO support for this he now wants Congress to OK it so when we get bogged down there helping Al Qaeda Muslim Terrorists over throw a Govt of Muslim Terrorists he and the Liberals can blame Republicans . He is ineffective and impotent and the whole world disrespects him and by Proxy the USA because of him

  4. old_blu says:

    Looks to me like President Obama knew what he was doing all along had all of us wondering. But it sure got Putin and Syria on board. And that’s the way it should be when the U.S. says that they are coming the others better get ready. Good job Obama making our nation a leader of countries again, and someone to be respected.
    Of course that isn’t how the GOP will spin it up I’m sure Fake Noise is telling them now that Putin saved Obama’s butt.

  5. idamag says:

    No matter what the arguments, the unlearned racists will blame Obama for the entire thing. If we were discussing the price of eggs in China, they’d be out there turning it into a partisan thing. Right now, there is no right or wrong answer. Right now, we have opinions and that is good.

  6. Socialism: Organized Evil says:

    In related news, we find a brief overview of Hussein Obama’s sympathies for the foreign ideology proffered by Islamists:

  7. Defend The Constitution says:

    In related news, Hussein Obama’s 1/2 brother Malik is now on a terrorist watch-list in Egypt:

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