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Crisis in Syria has more depth than American news outlets suggest

Date: 9/11/2013

By G. Michael Dobbs

My buddy City Jake – of City Jake’s Café at the corner of Main and Worthington streets in Springfield – is one of the best sandwich guys I know and he serves his creations up with a side of political observations.

Now Jake and I don’t always agree, but he is a spirited and informed guy with whom I like to talk, especially when downing some of his delicious hand cut fries.

The other day he asked me if I know the real reasons behind the relatively sudden interest in Syria, since, after all, the civil war has been going on there for several years.

Now I’m so immersed in local issues some weeks it’s difficult to find the time to go after broader issues. Jake suggested I do a web search for “Syrian pipeline.”

Now of course, I came up with a number of blogs that don’t always attribute their sources, but there was a fascinating story by Nafeez Ahmed on the website for the British newspaper The Guardian.

It was posted on May 13 and it describes the various reasons behind the Syrian situation, not the least of which is the conflict created by two pipeline projects, one of which would run from Iran and Iraq to Syria while the other would start in Qatar and end up in Turkey. The second project apparently wouldn’t benefit Russia, while the first would.

Please go to and read the story for yourself. Ahmed has frequent links to his sources.

This story adds much more depth to the current crisis involving the use of chemical weapons Syria’s the civil war. Have you heard any of the television news programs speak about the pipelines and the roles they play? Perhaps I missed it.

Many people like to speak about a liberal bias in mainstream media. It’s a very easy and self-satisfying statement to make. I’ve long maintained there is a corporate bias in the corporately controlled media and generally the interest of most large businesses does not fall under the description of “liberal.”

On another aspect of this story: I’m sure some people thought the story about Sen. John McCain being caught playing poker on his iPhone during testimony about whether or not we should make a military strike in Syria was trivial. I’ve seen some chatter online to that effect.

Sorry, but the senators are supposed to be determining just what we do – nothing or send in the drones. The lives of many people are certainly at stake. McCain, as a veteran, should appreciate what is going on. If the three-hour session was too long for a man his age, then he should resign.

But then again, I believe in term limits and think that no one in Congress should be there for a bulk of a lifetime.


Wow, what an outpouring of mail this week just because I suggested the minimal wage might be too low for working class people.

I’m adding the subject “minimum wage increase” to my secret hot button list. When I was on WREB as a talk show host – yes, I was the dreaded liberal who actually received hate mail – I knew that certain subject would set the phones ablaze. Being the 1980s, I soon learned that criticizing President Ronald Reagan even in the most superficial way was enough to light a forest fire of calls. A woman’s right to choose was another issue that was a sure thing.

Generally, I had to be pretty desperate to stoop to such tactics and I seldom did as the news of the day usually kept the conversation rolling.

I learned something this week, though. There are many people who believe that the “marketplace” should set what a job is worth and that a minimum wage is a socialist trap.

I printed as many letters we had room for this week and will get the rest in next week.

I will offer one rejoinder. The “marketplace” is determined by the decisions made by people who own businesses. Their goal is to make money and there’s nothing wrong with that. Historically, we have seen that many businesses have taken the tactic of trying to boost profits not through greater efficiencies or improved goods or services or better marketing. Instead profits are increased by using strategies such as laying people off, rewriting job descriptions and hiring new people at less money. How about taking jobs from a unionized area and moving them to a part of the country without unions? What about taking those jobs and putting them overseas? And there’s decreasing your workforce and telling people they have to “do more with less” or “work smarter.”

I know many business people recognize that if you treat a good employee well, the chances are that person will become a great employee. They understand a fairly paid worker will strengthen the local and national economy and that goods made in America benefit the consumer and the taxpayer.

Perhaps that is a controversial statement as well.

Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.