Tonight at Town Hall, journalist Dorothy Parvaz and author Wael Ghonim will be talking about the Arab Spring and its consequences.
I did a long interview with Parvaz last May—after she disappeared for 19 days while reporting on the Syrian uprising—and ahead of tonight's discussion we had a very short follow up conversation:
Eli Sanders: When I last talked to you, you were in Vancouver recovering from being taken into custody in Syria and then held captive in Iran. What's your life been like since then?
Dorothy Parvaz: My life has been, in most ways, the same. So I've been quite lucky.
What do you make of the deteriorating situation in Syria right now, and the calls for foreign intervention to stop the bloodshed?
Of course, as a human being, I'm horrified and furious at the violence and loss of life that has consumed the country. As a journalist, I'm frustrated that the Syrian government is still preventing proper coverage of events on the ground. As for foreign intervention...that could mean a lot of things. I'm unclear as to what such intervention can achieve—if it'll just be symbolic as in, "Yes, we the international community aren't happy with what the Syrian government is doing", or something more substantial, such as the end to violence. Both have dire consequences in how effective/ineffective they might be.
And the current situation in Iran?
Syria and Iran are entirely different. I'm not saying one is better than the other, but other than the most simplistic comparison (some people in each country seem to want regime change, etc.) they have little in common. Witness the scenes unfolding in Syria (well, as much as you can, given the limited media coverage) versus what you see going on in in Iran.
Ideologically, if the U.S. declares war on Iran, then it can declare war on North Korea and other countries. Although, one could argue that by selling massive quantities of weapons to Saudi Arabia and maintaining bases in the Gulf region, the U.S. is preparing for such possibility—that is, bracing for some sort of battle royale in Iran.
War should always be the last resort, and in this case, it's almost as though diplomacy—real diplomacy—was abandoned more than 30 years ago.