On Guns in America

The following remarks were given by Monica Atiya to a meeting of local and congressional leaders on how to best reduce gun violence in America.

We come together today days after yet another campus tragedy.

The Roseburg shooter was described as shy and lonely with very little going for him except a passion for guns. A young man reminiscent of the Sandy Hook shooter. That same week, the Flagstaff campus incident came on the very day that President Obama was visiting Oregon to privately comfort the families and community there. At times like these, we find it obvious that guns are the problem.At times like these, others find it equally obvious that guns are the solution.

In order to make progress, we can not continue to demonize either side. Gun sales go up when we demonize the other side. Only gun manufacturers benefit. The gun lobby relies upon, and profits from, keeping us apart, when, in reality, a majority of the American people, responsible gun owners and gun safety advocates alike, have the same goal: to keep our children, our communities and ourselves safe.

Some say rational debate is not possible on the issue of guns. Rational debate is not only possible, it is the only way to save the over 33,000 victims, the bystanders caught in the crossfire, the suicides by gun, the innocent students and school staff, whose lives are lost to gun violence each year in America.

Though we may never fully understand the mentally ill, we may never fully unravel sociopathy, we must and we will work together to ensure that gun safety is every rational American’s priority.

Sykes-Picot II

The first President Bush asserted the right of the US to come to the defense of Kuwait when Iraq invaded it in 1990. His reasoning was simple and clear; the invasion was a violation of the Westphalian state order that has sustained sovereignty of nations since the 17th century. It would fall to his successors to violate this very same system under various pretexts. President Clinton ignored it under the “Right to Protect” in the Balkans. The second President Bush violated it to bring democracy to Iraq. President Obama violated it in Libya, also under the “Right to Protect” and in multitude of other places to hunt down terrorists who inflicted harm on US citizens.

President Putin of Russia has outdone all four American Presidents by emulating their contradictory actions within the space of two years; first under the pretext of protecting Russian ethnics in Crimea, and then under the pretext of protecting Syrian state sovereignty and persecuting a war on terrorists who harmed Russian citizens. Putin’s actions seem a burlesque of the American precedent only because of the authoritarian nature of the Russian system; but they are no more deadly and far less expensive. The point is that moral outrage is of little value here. The Levant has turned into a Minoan Labyrinth for great powers (US), former great powers (Russia) and shambling actors (Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia).

This could turn out very badly, even worse than the current chaos, unless good sense is retrieved quickly. The most rational outcome is some sort of imposed peace, respecting current borders, recognizing some spheres of influence, leaving certain undesirable actors, such as the so-called Islamic State, out in the cold, while respecting the interests of others. The US which has shown scant regard for national borders in the last decades needs a revamped policy that considers the desirable long term outcomes in the region. None of the regional or international actors are clean of hand or pure of heart, but proposing a hard-nosed solution may finally wrestle some relief for the suffering civilians. Anything else is a prelude to madness.

— Maged Atiya