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« On gutlessness | Main | It just gets weirder ... and weirder »

August 29, 2013


Peter G

Peace brother. You are getting ahead of yourself. Let me talk you down. What's going to happen is this: nothing. Assad has been sent his message, by the usual expedient of positioning military vessels, to get his shit together vis a vis nerve agents. The ratio of the number of times this has been done with the number of times missiles have been launched is a very large number. They have already pre-positioned the reasons for not launching. And, as your own posts note congress has firmly wedged its' head up its' ass while at the same time demanding a say in any war declaration. I don't see that they have made any room on the calendar for this. I don't see them even being in the right district. I truly don't see any great campaign in the offing here. Saber rattling yes. Good old fashioned gun boat diplomacy? That too. War? No.

Peter G

Btw If you needed any other comfort, I've been reviewing things your president has said. And apparently this one knows the difference between Sunni and a Shia. And apparently some history. Now that's what I call progress!

Robert Lipscomb

Peter, who are you to stand between someone and their nervous breakdown? :-)


Peter, I'll ask you, since Robert L, who seems to be in agreement with you, has the reading comprehension and emotional makeup of the Benjy character in Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury." The question is this: You'll note that I specified a major conflagration is "among the more unlikely" ones, so being talked down from the ledge won't be necessary; however there is a chance of such a fight, and should that chance materialize, will our apologies suffice to the thousands of bereft families?


What strikes me about this situation is the basic fact that the U.S. is pretty much powerless to do anything about it. That's a rather new and thus very uncomfortable and frightening realization for this adolescent nation of ours. It's also a big part of maturity--learning to accept your limitations, both in terms of your knowledge and your ability to control things. Meanwhile, there's usually a period of flipping your shit when you first come to confront your inadequacies. I think that's a lot of what's going on here.

Robert L., you're obviously a very bright guy (I mean, you speak in complete paragraphs and use military jargon and everything). Surely then, you've played this end game out. Haven't you? And yes, it's very scary that chemical weapons might get out, and it's very sad that people are dying horrific deaths. But there isn't anything we can do about it, at least in the short term (which, sadly, is about as far as our government seems to think). It's time we grow up and deal with that.

Peter G

Had to think about that PM. Can there be anyone in the higher echelons of the current US government who cannot recognize a giant sized Pinata of Doom in Syria? The place in like a three dimensional Iraq in all the possibilities (none of them good) that could result from ill conceived military intervention. And there's almost no other kind. I think we can all agree on that. Still, believe or not, the world still looks to the US in some measure for leadership in dealing with such things. The late unpleasantness in the very complex Balkans would be a case in point. Your arguments against intervention are sound when it comes to either regime change or nation building or any other horseshit. But the nerve gas thing presents something of a conundrum. You can't ignore it. In a sense you have been expected to referee a war. Or Obama is, which is pretty consistent with the concept of handing the worst job in the world to a black man. So the pieces are all in place, a suitable scapegoat in the form of a rogue officer has been provided and all Assad has to do is take the bleeding hint and send a diplomatic note with the coordinates of the unit commander. This really serves everyone's purpose. Assad gets to shift blame but also make clear that nerve gas is in play and barely under his control should any other party feel inclined to weigh in with boots on the ground. Yes I think there will be a launch at some point and soon. If the UN weighs in on this with evidence that the gas attack was anything but a rogue event Assad will be royally screwed. Along with the rest of Syria for, I'm guessing, a good solid decade. Maybe cruise missiles but no war. If Assad deals with it himself, maybe no cruise missiles at all.


Peter G, what proof do you have that "the world" looks to the U.S. for leadership? What does that even mean? To "referee a war"?

You can't referee a war. Think about how ridiculous that even sounds.

You and Robert are perfectly illustrating the massive denial and squirminess that goes with one's confrontation with their own powerlessness. Play the end game out in your mind, and you soon realize that there is nothing we can do. If Russia and China got on board, then sure, now we have a real ballgame--you know, something that could kinda, sorta be "refereed."

This is not to say that there aren't long-term things the U.S. can do to prevent this, but that would have to do with things like mitigating catastrophic climate change, various subtle methods of bringing the theocratic Islamisist world into the Enlightenment, and so forth--not military interventions.

Peter G

What proof do I need. Right now in Egypt, that whole country is rife with strange beliefs regarding the US and its role in events there. The position of the American government is practically the first thing any diplomat in the world checks on any issue. This is doubtless a burden assumed, to some degree, by Americans themselves and their insistence endlessly repeated that your president is the leader of the free world. The essential problem of assuming moral leadership is you can't lay that burden down whenever it seems inconvenient. You don't have to do anything in Syria at all. But it will not escape everyone in the entire Middle East that moral leadership is something easily discarded. This also has repercussions in domestic politics. Cameron's deft move in getting the left in GB vote down any action regarding the use of weapons of any kind against civilian populations , including nerve agents, has put the left's high horse out to pasture for a very long time. So who the isolationists now?

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