A dear friend of mine here in the District recently informed me that her cousin, photojournalist Robert King, had traveled to some of the most dangerous parts of Syria to document the Free Syrian Army's battle against the Assad regime.
Getting into the war-torn country was difficult enough -- getting out was damn near impossible. Still, the veteran war correspondent (who has provided front-line footage from such places as Chechnya and Kosovo) emerged with a digital reel that provides solid context to the situation on the ground. It ain't pretty, but his work breathes life into a conflict where sterile casualty counts often obfuscate the horror of it all.
Having escaped the violence in Syria by the skin of his teeth -- a harrowing exodus through Levantine olive groves, lit by moonlight and mortar-fire -- King made the media rounds with Christiane Amanpour, Anderson Cooper, and Hala Gorani from Beirut. He reported: "In twenty years, I've not photographed so many wounded kids." He suggested the attacks weren't random; rather regime loyalists appeared to be targeting children and using them as human shields. I'm stymied to adequately describe an action so woefully, equally craven and revolting.
Knowing this, the usual suspects will continue to beat the war drums in the halls of Congress, while folks like me will remind you that "even the 'best' American interventions are not particularly good, like Bosnia, Haiti, Kosovo, and Somalia, which left ethnic cleansing, violence, instability, and terrorism in their wake."
Regardless, Robert King deserves a listen.
He's been to some of the worst places on the planet -- and back again -- and his words and pictures humanize the horrendous. Take them as you will.