As the Aleppo Situation Worsens, Now is the Time to Give

Holly Whitman

Holly Whitman is a writer and journalist based in Washington DC. She loves to share her thoughts on the intersection of politics and culture, and writes on everything from feminism and human rights to climate change and technology.

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30 Responses

  1. Kim says:

    It’s situations like these that make child slavery look like a good option (literally: where do you think the kids come from?)
    Should you wish to keep children out of situations like this, and get some shiny gifts for your relatives, I can provide links.Report

    • joke in reply to Kim says:

      I think a comment like this is sufficient reason to be banned from the site for at least a month.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to joke says:


        If one is going to advocate for child slavery, the least she could do is frame it in terms of American competitiveness, traditional family values, privity of contract and consumer choice.

        Just putting it out there so baldly, so unadorned, is frankly disgusting.Report

      • Kim in reply to joke says:

        Does it help to know the children chose slavery over American Detention Camps?

        I’m very much a fan of charity that is monetarily supported by free trade — if you’re not interested in supporting child slavery (and to be fair, I’m more than a bit on the fence about it), I can suggest some quality water filters (removing chlorine from your water makes your hair look and feel better), or even a portable grill whose design keeps people from burning down their homes with corncobs.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to joke says:

        I choose to interpret this comment through the lens of bitter sarcasm and philosophical despair (e.g., “Is slavery preferable to death?”) and not as actual advocacy of child slavery.

        That is about the maximum extent of my charity, however.Report

        • Kim in reply to Burt Likko says:

          I think that exposing the supply lines for common goods that we buy is a good thing.
          People have written entire posts here about favoring sweatshops.

          Simply because I happen to know a business owner, and thus can say affirmatively “yes, this one uses child labor” — It brings something to light that we don’t always want to think about.
          [If you want to see the adcopy for the glassware, it is completely hilarious how “green and liberal and progressive” it is.]

          People have posted tons about Mexican farm labor on this site — and Damon’s point (made on another thread) about the risk of injury to working children (even in America!) is well taken.

          I can sit here and ask — what should we do about these children? I consider it completely unacceptable to have them living out on the streets, stealing from the “righteous” — or, as is significantly more likely, put to work in the sex trade.Report

          • Burt Likko in reply to Kim says:

            I’ve cautioned others that your first comment is deserving of a charitable interpretation, and offered a lens through which I’ve viewed it so that they can do so themselves.

            You should, however, take the fact that you immediately drew calls for suspension with the comment, and the fact that an editor had to step in and independently offer an interpretative lens, as a caution. The caution should be that you articulated yourself carelessly previously, and a bit of introspection about “How might I avoid that in the future?”

            This comment is much more thoughtful, and I thank you for it.Report

            • joke in reply to Burt Likko says:

              Indeed, I am reacting in part to the carelessness of Kim’s comment; if you are going to talk about something as important as child slavery, then for Pete’s sake make it clear what you mean. Words have consequences, and intent is not the only factor in determining responsibility for those consequences, it maybe not even be the most important in cases such as these.Report

              • Kim in reply to joke says:

                This is something that I’ve referenced before around here — sorry if I didn’t completely flesh out what I was talking about.

                It’s a glass factory down in Mexico that employs kids starting roughly at the age of twelve. As they’re kids, they do have a higher rate of injury (and with a glass factory that means burns). I’m really not sure I feel comfortable with the money I’ve spent on “shiny things” — but at least I didn’t buy any of the tricky glasswork that is more likely to cause injuries.

                It’s still a hell of a lot better than having them in the sex trade.Report

  2. Gary Johnson says:


  3. notme says:

    Sadly at this point the rebels are going to lose. What Aleppo needs, is for the Assad regime to win as quickly as possible, so the rebuilding can begin.Report

    • Kim in reply to notme says:

      It took FARC how long to lose?Report

      • Brent F in reply to Kim says:

        Syria doesn’t have jungle and the Andes mountains to retreat to. The Tarsus range isn’t a substitute.Report

        • Kim in reply to Brent F says:

          Proxy wars are still proxy wars. Throw enough money at people, and they’ll keep fighting.Report

        • notme in reply to Brent F says:

          Not to mention that FARC had the support of some of the surrounding countries.Report

        • InMD in reply to Brent F says:

          I think Kim is right. Between us, the Russians, and other regional actors we are more than capable of ensuring this fight goes down to the last Syrian.Report

          • Brent F in reply to InMD says:

            War on the Leventine plain is inherently high-intensity, the cycle of violence naturally escalates to that point. The Kurds and Alawites might have the option of retreating to defensible holdfasts but the bulk of the population has to either fight it out to the finish or have a ceasefire. Low intensity conflict a la FARC isn’t an option for them.

            Outside powers can prop up the losers to keep it going, but that’s a recipe for a 5-10 year war, not a 40 year one like FARC. The meatgrinder of a hot war loses to many men and puts to much strain on your political-economic system to keep going longer than that. Assad is already scraping at the bottom of his man-power barrel, the time line in which he can sustain even the reduced pace of operations he’s been running over the past half-year is relatively short.

            Its either a frozen conflict on a seize-fire line or total victory for one side in the bulk of Syria, the ground doesn’t allow for a long-term low-intensity conflict (unlike to the north of them, where the mountains allow the Kurds and Turks to snipe at each other for endless decades).Report

            • Brent F in reply to Brent F says:

              Specifically to the foreign money issue, the outside money stops matter if you run out of bodies. The lives of military aged males starts out cheap in these things but gets expensive towards the end. It also doesn’t take that many casualties as a proportion of availible manpower before that manpower won’t fight except for local defense. Low-intensity conflict can persist because the casualties are low enough to be replaced by the fresh blood growing up into the age cohort. Hot wars of taking and losing ground are too much of a meat grinder for that.Report

            • Burt Likko in reply to Brent F says:

              Does this level of tactical-to-strategic lensing take into account urbanized areas? Lessons learned in Iraq suggest that these are denser to penetrate, harder to control, and deadlier for infantry than either deep wetlands or rugged mountains. There are dozens of densely urbanized areas in Syria.Report

              • Brent F in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Urban areas don’t generate their own supplies to live off of and have the disadvantage of giving away your general location to the enemy (cities are obvious places to be). You can hole up in an urban area (they provide excellent cover) for a period of time, but you can’t stay there indefinately.Report

  4. Kolohe says:

    Based on the most recent maps, nothing is going into or out of Aleppo unless its done in coordination with Syrian Government forces, or smuggling around them (which in turn requires support of the most deplorable factions of the anti-Syrian government forces).Report

    • InMD in reply to Kolohe says:

      This touches on what I was wondering about. Have the recommended charities been vetted to ensure that donations are going to civilians and not being diverted to and/or supporting belligerents in the conflict?Report

  5. Burt Likko says:

    Thanks to @Holly-Whitman, again, for raising this matter even before Aleppo was re-taken by the Assad government. Thanks also to @Maribou for identifying the new charity and @will-truman for getting the post up in a special place.

    Longtime contributor and site alumnus @jason-kuznicki once opined that among the truest acts of charity is to give to someone very different from oneself facing problems very different from what one fears for oneself. We here in the generally peaceful West acutely feel the religous and cultural differences between ourselves and the large majority of people who live in this area of the world; we are blessed to not face imminent violence at the hands of our own state nor indeed all that much violence at all. But the people who have moved into Aleppo did so seeking to find a way to avoid the violence, seeking a place where they could co-exist notwithstanding political and religious differences, and now this has been taken from them along with a once-lovely city. The similarities now seem to be so much more powerful than the differences.

    Please find a place to be charitable and help these fellow humans during this, their darkest hour.Report

    • Maribou in reply to Burt Likko says:

      (FWIW, it’s not a new charity – one that Holly already mentioned – I just panicked the other day and asked Will how we could get that charity under people’s noses at this exact time, since they are both reliable and still on the ground, just outside Aleppo, saving lives. Will wisely remembered this post existed and re-upped the post.)

      It tears me up inside to see a state that was once one of the most peaceful, harmonious places in the Middle East turned into one of the most war-torn and miserable places on the planet. Students that I serve used to go to Syria to work after college without worrying about their safety, but just because Damascus or wherever else was such a cool place to live and they wanted to learn from the people who lived there. And I’ve been doing my job for *less than a decade*.

      Any charity that saves lives, and does so efficiently and at personal risk, is worth our support. I hope as many of these folks as possible find a path to safety, and I am grateful that, in whatever small way, we actually *can* help some of them survive.Report

  6. Ryan Benson says:

    Completely agree with the above post, there is huge count of people living in poverty. I was unaware of the fact until I had a discussion with my friend on people living in poverty and he suggested me to visit this page. I used to believe that people are poor because of their bad habits and lack of interest in working and earning money. But I found there are many reasons for poverty like natural disasters, disabilities, health issues and insufficient education for the good job. I greatly appreciate the NGO’s working for such people and improving their livelihood by educating them.Report