Thursday, August 29, 2013

All that chest beating must make one's arms tired

One of the greatest pointers I learned from parenting books was that when disciplining, don't make a threat to the child you don't intend or have the capability of following through on. Though one's initial logic might dictate that making the price tag on an undesirable behavior exceedingly high should scare the child off from doing it, if they take the chance and do it anyway you end up a double loser. First of all the behavior you were trying to avoid happened anyway, and secondly (and more importantly) your future authority has now been undermined as the child now has reason to believe that just as this threat ended up being empty so too other ones you make might be as well.

As it turns out, sometimes the rules of the game for little people are equally applicable to big people too. It seems Obama got himself into quite a pickle a while back when he first threatened that Assad's use of chemical weapons would merit American intervention and punishment. Now why on earth America would ever be interested in getting involved in the whole Syrian mess is completely beyond me. Could the motivation to take sides be solely to be on the opposite side of Russia? Though not impossible it's such a sorry excuse to risk a war that I would hope it's not true. Is it to counter one of Iran's staunchest allies in the region and therefore Iran itself by extension? Could be. But if Obama really intended on confronting Iran why not just go for them directly? And if he doesn't truly intend on confronting them, what's the use of getting involved with Syria simply due to the Iranian factor in the first place? Or perhaps it was simply out of the altruistic desire to protect innocents from the horrors of a death induced by chemical warfare? Yet as scary as such a scenario may be, many bloggers and even a few less mainstream media outlets have raised the valid question of why a given amount of people dying from nerve gas is a travesty requiring intervention but the murder of upwards of 100,000 people by "conventional" means is not? Would it not have been sufficient for the president to public state that he deplores the violence and the suffering of the innocents but that it's not America's place to get involved and he's leaving it up to the international community bodies such as the UN to resolve? Such a policy certainly got a free pass concerning Darfur.

Yet, whatever the reason President Obama felt it was appropriate to threaten US involvement, he had his reason and he did it. At least he thinks he had an appropriate reason. Please G-d - I seriously hope he though he had a appropriate reason. Regardless, whatever the reason (or lack thereof), now the president finds himself in the situation of the parent who has put out the threat to his child he didn't want to carry out. He seems to have committed himself to a ridiculous conundrum of choosing sides between a murderous dictator on the one hand and Al Qaeda on the other. Aside from the distastefulness of that in and of it's own right, I wonder if the old adage of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" even holds water in this case? Both the Syrian government and Al Qaeda seem equally hostile to America. In fact, given that Assad has never sent passenger jets crashing into the World Trade Center, perhaps logic would dictate Obama would be better served taking his side!

Yet if America takes no action at all, it lives up to any paper tiger accusations thrown at it and future threats hold much less water. Even more than that, if the reason Obama holds back on action shows to be that his previous threats were too hasty and not thought through, it would call into question all of his other foreign policy past present and future. So at the risk of otherwise looking like a fool, he is called into action if for nothing other than to protect his own image. And this perhaps is the most ridiculous aspect of the entire equation. I once heard a shiur by Rav Tzvi Aryeh Rosenfeld quoting the sefer Lekutei Halachot that kings and leaders of countries who choose to make war against each other are held accountable for every drop of blood spilled from every soldier and civilian casualty. However immoral their rationale may be, at least Assad and Al Qaeda's actions can be justified according to their own particular interests - the former being to hold on to his seat of power and the latter being to spread their ideological cause. However the only motivation Obama seems to be driven by is one of frustration upon finding that not all Middle Eastern leaders cave to his demands as easily as Bibi Netanyahu.

1 comment:

  1. A plan was in place at least ten years ago to take down the Assad regime. I think it may have been orchesrtrted by other forces within the US gov't and Obama is just having a hard time going along with it. Why, I don't know. In any case, this plan was hatched about the time the signs for peak oil began to appear and China and India started demanding a bigger share of this non-renewable resource.


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