Posts Tagged With: Syria

Syria & Cyrus – redux

Diplomacy is:

(as defined by great minds of the 20th century)


The art of letting somebody else have your way.  ~David Frost

The art of restraining power. ~Henry A. Kissinger

and lastly,

The art of saying ‘Nice doggie’ until you can find a rock. ~ Will Rogers

My international relations professors (one former DIA, one a Persian ex-pat from Iran) always said diplomacy was the art of speaking softly and carrying a big stick.

In Syria, this week, it seems all four definitions are true.  

To sum up – yesterday a reporter asked Sec. State John Kerry what it would take to keep the U.S. from strategic strikes in Syria, and he said, perhaps tongue in cheek, and certainly skeptically, for Assad to turn over his WMD’s to the UN for destruction, turning them over to the international wrecking ball.  

By nightfall, Russia’s Putin suggested that to Assad, and Assad agreed.  Frankly, I don’t care who gets the credit for the idea if this works, for several reasons:

First and foremost, the U.S. will not be acting alone in yet another nation’s civil war.  Throughout our recent history, we’ve been involved in too many, at the cost of too many American lives.

Second, it gets the chemical weapons out of the hands of a sociopath.  Assad is clearly apathetic to the plight of his own people in comparison to his own family and friends.  He will keep his power at all costs.  He saw what happened to his buddies Hussein, Mubarak, & Qaddafi.  

Third, it pulls the world back from the brink of another cold war, or world war.

The question is – using Frost’s definition, whose way is diplomacy having?  Frankly I’m beginning to think it’s President Obama and the U.S. national interest.  The president is standing there, at the G20 in Moscow, with the biggest stick and the softest voice.  

Putin wants to feel like he’s a player too and keep his oil routes unencumbered, so he jumps at the opportunity to play “peacemaker”.  In just about a week, Assad has gone from we don’t have ’em, to we didn’t use ’em, to “prove it” and finally to the UN, cried “uncle” and is giving them up. 

And last but not least, Congress is dancing around, a little bit like marionettes, because Obama said he was going, and didn’t need their approval.  When they demanded he said, ok, fine. Debate it.  

The legislative shell-shock and gun-shy kerfuffle bought Kerry and diplomacy a little time to work, all the while Obama’s sitting back and saying look – we know you did it, and we’re not letting you do it again.

Call him an idiot if you want, but frankly that’s brilliant.

Ms. Cyrus is smarter than you think too.

If you’ll recall, about a week or so ago I went on a little tirade about how we should really ignore Miley Cyrus’ antics with Robin Thicke at the VMAs and how Syria was just completely being ignored.  That the outrage at her behavior, while ignoring everything else was insane. 

I stand behind that.  And yet here we are again, side by side news headlines – Syria blinks and Cyrus has a new video and OH MY GOD SHE’S NAKED. 

Unless you’ve ever been in a relationship that’s laid you bare and emotionally or physically wrecked you, I don’t expect you to get it.  I’m becoming convinced this kid — the same age as my stepdaughter — is what my mom & grandfather would call an “old soul.”  This song is wise beyond her years, lyrically brilliant, and if you listen first, and look later, you will understand it. Especially if you’ve ever had your heart broken or betrayed. 

And I recommend listening to it here, then viewing it.  Not because of the nudity, but because you need to hear the message and then you’ll get the visual.   It’s here:  Put it in a background tab.

Get off her back.  Even if she twerks up to you. 

Categories: In all seriousness | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why Syria Matters – and Not Miley Cyrus.

We need to slow the hell down on our response in Syria.  Anyone who’s paid attention to the news the past few days will have seen the stories of chemical weapons buried in the “news” coverage of Miley Cyrus at the MTV VMAs, or that one of the Kardashians is in relationship trouble.  Or that Congress is again trying to repeal Obamacare. (Is it 40 or 41 votes now?)

And while Congress wasting its time on this during its summer recess is somewhat newsworthy – it all pales in comparison to what we’re up to now in the Middle East.

There are many, many reasons, but first and foremost in my mind is that if we’re this late to addressing the issue, what harm is waiting until the U.N. and international inspectors/prosecutors going to do?

Syria has been a mess for a long, long time. Only in the past couple years has it gotten out of control.  Where we helped nudge Gadaffi out with an international partnership, there are a lot of lobbiests and war mongers in the D.C. beltway all fired up to get in there and get our (U.S.) troops on the ground. 

Yes, a “red line” has been crossed.  It  is absolutely abhorrent and reprehensible that nerve gas or other mass destruction weapons have been used in civilian villages.  

At a greater issue – is whether Assad’s government or the rebels used it.  And where the folks who used the weapons got it.

Our “certainty” that it was Saddam Hussein’s government maintaining a similar cache got us into the Iraq invasion & occupation.  Political pundits and talking heads with an agenda convinced the American people and congress that Iraq had a hand in the 9-11 attacks. (We know now, Iraq did not.)  Once all was said and done, we’ve spent billions in Iraq, and countless lives and injuries to our military defenders, to wage a war for what ended up being no real reason. 

Syria is an even murkier mess.  Because the civil war has been going on for so long, the anti-Assad groups have splintered.  Some are backed by Al Queda.  Some are backed by Hezbollah.   Some are simply done with being in a dictatorship by an ethnic/religious minority.  Al Queda and Hezbollah have no problem using civilians as a body count to bolster their cause, as well shown in the past both in the U.S.,  and abroad in countries like Australia, India, and Israel. 

2008 Republican Nominee & Senator John McCain famously went to spend time with Syrian rebels and urged President Barack Obama to draw the “red line” in the sand, where the U.S. would go to war.  And one of the rebels he was with, was later identified as a kidnapper of journalists and aide workers. 

My point is, we don’t know who used the gas, when, or why just yet.  It may well have been Assad’s regime.  But it also may well have been rebels trying to make it look like Assad did it to get rid of him.  

As we’re wrapped up in Iraq, and almost out of Afghanistan, it seems to me like there’s a group in U.S. politics who aren’t happy unless we’re bombing someone.  And they’ve now got their sights set on Syria.

I’m 40.  There’s been no time in my life where the U.S. has really known peace.  I was born during the Viet Nam War.  We’ve been active in “peacekeeping” missions in Lebanon in the early 1980s, resulting in more than 250 marines being killed by a suicide bomber at their barracks.  We invaded Grenada.  The U.S. was involved in the Iran-Iraq war.  We’ve funded the Iranians through back-end deals in Nicaragua to get them weapons.  We bombed Libya strategically in 1986.  

We invaded Iraq to drive Hussein out of Kuwait, and have maintained a presence in Saudi Arabia since then.  Everything else is more recent history.

Through all of that, has been the cold war. Even with the collapse of the Soviet Union, relations with Russia have been tense.  And were it not for Putin propping Assad up in Syria with new weaponry and armaments the past two years, odds are this discussion wouldn’t even be happening.

Communism isn’t coming back, but it seems like some old Reagan-era neocons want to pull that iron curtain back up.  Should Putin be holding Syria’s hand? Nah.  But it’s not like we’ve got clean hands either.  The U.S. has often in its history held its nose while pushing forward a dictator.  (Noriega anyone?)

The idea of a U.S. troops on the ground, smack Syria for using chemical WMDs strike gets even more disconcerting when Russia says it’s going to oppose any international/U.N. action and will continue to support Assad.

Yes, the use of gas is repugnant beyond the pale, but so is putting U.S. troops in harms way if we get it wrong.  the U.S. doesn’t need to be globocop.  If the international community is so goddamned outraged about it – let them do it.  Nowhere in the world does it say the U.S. has to pull the trigger first on international war crimes. 

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