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opinion Middle East still far from lasting peace 6


Weekend, February 8-10, 2013

from Assad, all predictions as to when the war may conclude are dubitable.

zac pestine opinion columnist


t is all but impossible to conceive of a Middle East bereft of violence and bloodshed. The Arab Spring, which has stormed through Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, has now claimed over 60,000 Syrian lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians in an increasingly gory Syrian Civil War. Supposedly, removing Bashar al-Assad, the ruthless Syrian dictator, from his authoritative post is the highest priority of the U.S. State Department, as quotidian remarks of the necessity of his departure by outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are ubiquitous in newspaper headlines. However, as we approach the two-year anniversary of Syria’s struggle to emancipate itself

As the bloody rampage in Syria continues to fester with no end in sight, there reamains nothing to assuage any fears that the Arab Spring may become the Arab Decade. Ostensibly, the United States is in favor of the usurpation of Assad’s throne; however, it remains entirely possible that yet another dictator or terrorist group takes the reign in his stead. Our reluctance to arm Assad’s opposition with heavy artillery stems from two apprehensions. Firstly, we are privy to the fact that al-Qaida, who is aiding the rebels in overthrowing Assad, could ascend to power after he is gone. Secondly, as long as we do not offer major assistance to the rebels, it appears that Assad

and his allies will refrain from attacking U.S. interests in the region, namely Israel. Last week, Israel shot down a convoy delivering chemical weapons to the terrorist organization Hezbollah. This strike, which was condoned by all U.S. policy makers, was also condemned by Russia, Iran and Syria, all of whom have ties to Hezbollah. Although Iran and Syria have pledged to retaliate, no actions have been taken thus far, a sign that the U.S.’s tepid support for Syrian rebels is met with a temporary red light in response to Israeli strikes on terrorist targets. Complicating matters further is Turkey’s rebuke of Iran and Syria for not yet launching an attack on Israel. Turkey, which had once been a bastion of hope for the juxtaposition of an Islamic government with a westernized, peaceful society, has shifted more and more toward extremism in recent years. Furthermore, Iran and Egypt are looking to make

amends after more than thirty years of severed ties between the two most populous countries in the region. After the Camp David Accords in 1978, which forged a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, Iran cut ties with Egypt. Iran also named a street after the assassin who killed Anwar Sadat, the Egyptian leader who signed the peace treaty with Israel. When democratic elections are held in the Arab world countries, the majority of people elect representatives from extremist Islamic organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood, for example Egypt’s president Mohamed Morsi. The Muslim Brotherhood is the parent organization of Hamas, the terrorist group in power in the Gaza Strip which is hell-bent on demolishing Israel. There are millions of people in the Arab world that genuinely want peace and stability; however, when activists such as Malala Yousafzai lead movements to instill these values in their society, they are

shot in the head by organizations like the Taliban and left for dead. As the bloody rampage in Syria continues to fester with no end in sight, there remains nothing to assuage any fears that the Arab Spring may become the Arab Decade. In the coming months, we may reach an impasse with the intransigent Iranian regime over its contentious nuclear program. All U.S. policy makers, including the dovish potential Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, have repeatedly stated that Iran’s window of opportunity to open its nuclear facilities to international scrutiny is quickly closing. Should that window shut, the U.S. and Israel will soon find themselves in another battle in an immensely convoluted Middle East. Zac is a senior majoring in philosophy and communications. Find his thoughts on the goings-on in the Middle East in print every week. Please send all feedback to

Der Rathskeller’s jukebox dies, and with it, a piece of us all Noah Phillips opinion columnist


here’s nothing more democratic than a jukebox. In an age of iPods (hyper-individualized music machines) and corporate media (where commercial radio stations play the same top-40 pop songs over and over and over again), the jukebox remains a humble bastion of a community’s ability to exercise a collective culture composed of the autonomy of its members. The freedom to determine a playlist cooperatively, a playlist accumulated from the tastes and pleasures of all interested parties, is central to an ethos of a liberty premised on interde-

pendence. It is neither a “liberal” nor “conservative” freedom. It is a democratic freedom. It is in this spirit of freedom and democracy, in this belief that we as a people, a community, are more than the sum of our parts, that leads me to call on the managerial staff of the Memorial Union to bring back the Rathskeller jukebox. When I first discovered the disappearance, last week, I was merely disappointed that I would be unable to listen to “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” while I sipped my coffee. In denial, perhaps, I wondered if it had simply been moved temporarily for construction, or if somehow I had misremembered its location. But no! Inquiry with two separate Union employees revealed the sorry fact that it was gone, had been removed, was sitting in storage or in some office and was

going to stay there indefinitely. The student staff, apparently, rewired the machine to play songs free of charge. When a private company came to collect the jukebox cash and discovered that thousands of songs had been played for free, they complained and had the managers take away the machine. Now, playlists are decided upon in back rooms. The music tastes of a slim minority of the student population (by a cartel of student managers, no doubt) are being piped directly into Rathskeller patrons with no transparency or accountability to protect the interests of private industry. Once again, the forces of organized capital and our governance structures have combined and are colluding against us. Once again, they are using the specter of crime to undermine our liberties and seize control over our public resources.

Having music to listen to in Der Rathskeller is a public good. It benefits everybody, much the way public infrastructure benefits everybody, or having an educated populace benefits everybody. In the modern tradition, there are two dominant ways to provide public goods. Liberals say that a centralized government should handle it. Conservatives say that an unfettered free market should handle it. But in practice, this is often a false distinction because both of these philosophies disenfranchise the individual by subjecting them to forces beyond her control, centralized, ostensibly omniscient institutions (in the case of the market, concentrated in the hands of so few so as to be centralized in essence). A coup has occurred in the aural landscape of Der

Rathskeller; the twin forces of hierarchal control and capital accumulation have displaced the decentralized, peaceful regime of direct control by the people. We must not be fooled by their excuses! The jukebox was created for all of us to hold in common, for the good of all! There can be no justification for its removal; keeping it in the Union for all to use has no cost and grants a sense of ownership and control mostly vanished in our modern world. We must listen to Paul Simon! To Carlos Santana! To Johnny Cash! And The Smiths! Our voices sound of our freedom, our independence, shall not be silenced by jukebox profiteers! Noah is a sophomore majoring in history of science and community and nonprofit leadership. Please send all feedback to

Letter: Background checks not effective because most criminals don’t buy guns Vern Bronson letter to the editor

I just read the article on the internet referring to backround checks [“Gun control loophole poses” by Mike Brost]. I have been a law enforcement officer since 1973.  I am not against background checks, but  of all the guns I have confiscated from criminals, 99.999 percent of them have been stolen.  No criminal in their right mind is going to buy a gun when they can get one for nothing.  Now how is a background check going to prevent this? This is just another case of people who don’t know what they are talking about, making a lot of noise and demands that do no good.  Enforce the laws already on the books against the people

who violate them and leave the rest of us alone. If you really want to do some good, change the mental health laws pertaining to doctor-patient confidentiality. If someone is dangerously mentally ill, maybe a database should be implemented which can also be accessed with a background check.  I can just hear the screams from the liberals now. How dare such a thing be proposed and violate someone’s right to privacy. As the old saying goes, “the price of liberty and freedom isn’t free.” Do you agree with Vern that background checks won’t slow down crime? Are you interested in having your opinion in the paper? Respond to any of the published articles or write on your own topic and then send your piece to

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