The internet offers extraordinary new channels for making information widely available.
Take the little YouTube “Wake-up call” video featuring myself and Mr. Romeo. During the month of August, it drew another 183,437 views and an estimated 197,848 minutes spent watching it. That translates into 3,297 hours of viewing, or 82 working weeks (based on an 8-hour day). That’s a heck of a reach for something that cost me nothing to put out there.
Then I thought of the strong disagreements expressed in comments this week on the approach the U.S. should take in addressing the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government
As I tried to quickly dig a little deeper, it struck me how generally weak our mainstream media is reporting and explaining what is going on in a way that gets beyond the simplest “bomb-don’t bomb” debate. And despite the availability of all the new means of making information globally available, I have found it difficult to dig through and find good, basic documentation and explanation of the situation and the options we and others face.
WHen I think back to the years I worked with the American Friends Service Committee, first as a staff member and later as a volunteer serving on regional and national policy committees, we were able to access many kinds of information, including reports from residents living or working in hot spots, perspectives gathered from independent observers in the field, information from individual travelers or delegations sent to gather information and assess conditions “on the ground,” reports by experts filtering through available data to bring together concise snapshots of what was going on and what interests were at stake in different areas, and well informed and thought-out policy options that the organization could then consider.
This kind of information must exist, but I’m having trouble finding it.
I tried searching available TED Talks, and came up with little. I searched available podcasts via the iTunes Store, and made no great finds.
I would love to receive additional suggestions of good sources.
Meanwhile, here are a few things I’ve found useful so far.
“Syria Then and Now: The Syrian Revolution to Date,” published in early 2013.
Description: Dr. Mohja Kahf, University of Arkansas, provides a deeper understanding of the development and composition of the various components of the Syrian opposition from its origins to the present, discusses the current role of nonviolent groups and addresses the concerns raised by some in the peace movement.
It really gives a feel for the complexity of the situation and the variety of interests at work in Syria.
“The Crisis in Syria” comes from the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect. I am not familiar with this organization, but this is another broad and serious overview that I found quite useful.
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has a number of excellent articles available on its website.
“The Damascus Bureau is a publishing platform for independent Syrian journalists,” according to its website. Some excellent reportage here.
Another source that I’ve referred to before is Juan Cole’s “Informed Comment,” widely considered one of the best blogs following Middle East affairs.
One of those is an op-ed from the New Republic, “Not sure how to feel about Syria?“, seems a pretty fair overview.
“Sectarian Violence in Syria’s Civil War: Causes, Consequences, and Recommendations for Mitigation” is a report prepared for the Center for the Prevention of Genocide, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
“Analysis: Caution and the Syria Debate” is a column from The Scotsman that summarizes reasons to go slow.
From the Congressional Research Service, “Syria’s Chemical Weapons: Issues for Congress.” This seems to be updated on an ongoing basis. This is the most recent version I found today.
Are there recent speeches or debates relating to Syria policy that are available in video or audio? Are there easier ways to track this stuff down?