I disagree with Hightower.

What you will find here is: a centrist's view of current events;
a collection of thoughts, arguments, and observations
that I have found appealing and/or amusing over the years;
and, if you choose, your civil contributions which will make it into a conversation.

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Friday, September 13, 2013


If you would like to see a description of the current Syrian situation that presents Obama as engaging in a deep and successful maneuver that has trapped Putin go here and check out Andrew Sullivan's view.


  1. I have thought for some time now that the only way to make sense of Obama's actions in this matter is to see them as a series of moves to win a game whose goal is to stop the use of chemical weapons without military force. I did not think that it made sense for him to want Congress's approval to make strikes against Syria unless it was a good excuse to string this out while continuing to rattle sabers and make it clear that the US military was ready at a moment's notice. I do not think it was a gaff on the part of the Secretary of State to make the offer to call off the military strikes if Syria gives up their chemical weapons. I mean come on! What appears to be happening now is exactly what the administration wanted to happen. After all, no one thinks that a few bombs, even a few well placed ones, are going to stop Assad from using chemical weapons, or any other kinds of weapons. But Russia might be able to. Now if Russia can't get Syria to give up their chemical weapons then it could damage Russia's reputation, which is now on the line. And if Russia has taken on that task then that, #1 forces Russia to admit that Assad has chemical weapons and, #2 forces Russia to get serious about at least appearing to get them out of Assad's hands. And if Assad does not have, or appears to not have, chemical weapons, then he can't very well use them can he...without Russia looking look a liar or a chump that's been played?

    Everything that Obama has ever said tells us that he does not want another war of any kind. At least that's what I hear. But threatening military strikes can be useful. For anyone that remembers the television show "Happy Days" the Fonz very rarely had to hit anyone. But they knew that he could, and feared that he would. Even though one could definitely argue that the Fonz was a ficticious character on a lame TV show, my experience in life has convinced me that the threat of retaliation has much more credibility coming from one who has been known to retaliate successfully.

    As far as the right calling Obama weak, what's new about that? There are very few things that Obama could be called that he hasn't already been called. I personally think that, in the long run, for the world to see America use more discretion in deciding whether to use military force is a good thing.

  2. 1. This might be credible if Obama's threats had been credible. But let's recall his:
    a) "Assad has got to go." But Assad didn't go.
    b) "Then if Syria uses chemical weapons that is a red line with me." They did and he did nothing.
    c) "If Congress will let me I will do ... " when it was pretty clear that they wouldn't let him.
    d) Russia acted after it was completely clear that Obama's threats were bluster.
    e) In return for using chemical weapons Assad will get a guarantee that we will not intervene.
    2. I also want America to take a reduced role in the world. But I want it to be clear that we are doing it by choice and not by buffoonery.

  3. Well, clearly you feel passionate about it and we will have to agree to disagree about what all of this means. I don't interpret the actions you list the same way you do. However I will respond to each of your points regardless of the uselessness of it.

    a. So what?
    b. How do you know he did nothing? How do you know he is not still working on it? And if he is still working on it how does that contribute to his buffoonery?
    c. Again, your knowledge of what the President did or didn't do is surprising, at least to me.
    d. It has never been clear that Obama's threats were bluster. The administration insists that the military threat is still on the table and I have no objective reason to doubt it. What is clear to me is that the administration does not WANT to use military action if there is any other way to achieve the goals. That's fine with me and there is nothing buffoonerish about that. It's also clear to me that we have a military with a lot of experience and they can be anywhere and do anything at any time. Obama has used them in the past in very limited missions. Assad and Putin would do well not forget that.
    e. Should we intervene even if no chemical weapons are being used? Why?
    2. I am not clear on this sentence. I think one can actually do something by choice and yet still be a buffoon about it. While at the same time I don't think that the lack of buffoonery guarantees the rightness of an action.

    I would speculate that there is very little chance that one can purposely back off of one's responsibilities without
    1. Someone else filling that void, and
    2. Taking a lot of abuse from everyone else. History shows us that everyone loves an underdog until they are a winner. Then everyone can't wait to see that winner take a big fall. When I was a kid my Dad would always listen to the Yankees games on the radio just to root against them. When they lost he was very happy. I would say "Why do you hate the Yankees so much"? and he would say "because they win all the time". I think my Dad is very representative in that feeling. I'm sure he likes them more recently, or at least hates them less.

    1. WRT “we have a military with a lot of experience and they can be anywhere and do anything at any time”. Except, of course, Benghazi.

    2. to Bruce: I do feel more strongly about things when it is my guy who is messing up. I voted for him twice and I did not do that so that he could talk tough and then fold when push came to shove.

      I did it because I thought he would explain that we were going to reduce our role. I would have been fine with: "We will not go into Syria except as part of a UN or NATO action."

      But he didn't. He talked tough. Kick ass and take names tough. "Assad has got to go." But Assad did not go.

      As for: So what? Well, he has also said that (Shia) Iran will not get a nuclear weapon. That is pretty important to our friends the (Sunni) Saudis and the Israelis. Do you think that they would agree that finding out that his promises are no good warrants a - so what?

      What should they do seek the protection of the Russians?

    3. I don't see a promise in the statement "Assad has got to go". I heard it as a strong statement of opinion and I believe he has tried to do everything to help the rebels short of taking military action and getting involved in the fight, or arming a group that has no great love for the US with weapons they could later use against us.

      Dealing with these Middle Eastern countries is like trying to herd cats while walking on broken glass. If you choose to get involved it's going to be near impossible to fully succeed and you're going to take some cuts and bruises. If we've learned anything this past decade or so it should be at least that much.

      I would be interested Wayne to know what you would have done and said if you were the President. If you say, "we will not go into Syria except as part of a UN or NATO action", already knowing that neither the UN nor NATO are likely to take that action, because you have already discussed it with your counterparts, then you give Assad a great deal of comfort and a free pass to do whatever he wishes. But if you say "Assad has got to go" you have stated your preference but have left all of your options open and people, including Assad, can interpret it as they will. I don't believe that there was any comfort for Assad in that statement, but I also don't think it was an overt promise to "kick ass and take names".

      Tom, I have no argument with regard to Benghazi. It is unexplainable and a HUGE screw up. But I think that the military could have been there, which was my point, even though they were not. And that makes what happened all the worse. I can't give Obama a free pass on that one.

      Frankly, I don't know why anyone would want the job of President of the United States.