The rules of a staredown are: he-who-blinks-first-loses. In this case, it was an eyeball to eyeball staredown between the President of the United States, the President of Russia, the President of China, and the President of Syria. Guess who blinked?
The death and destruction of the Syrian Civil War is beyond disturbing. There is a humanitarian crisis of Biblical proportions happening on all sides of the Syrian borders as combat drives hundreds of thousands of refugees into sprawling camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. International intervention - whether in the name of peacekeeping or peace enforcement - or even a simple no-fly zone such as we imposed in Libya during the toppling of Ghaddafi, is challenging due to the fact that there are no good guys here, and Assad's anti-aircraft defenses are formidible.
On the one hand we have Assad, who despite Liberal endorsement has shown himself to be a ruthless thug dictator, a butcher.
As recently as February 2011, at the cusp of the Arab Spring, Vogue magazine published an article which was no less than a slobbering tongue-bath of admiration for the Assad family focusing on the wife of the Butcher of Damascus.
And on the other hand there are the Syrian rebels, co-opted by the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda. They have proven willing to conduct ruthless war crimes to further their agenda.
In order to understand the conflict in Syria, it is necessary to understand the nature of tribal war. As the traditional center of Arab culture, Syria is of course a tribal society, led by the Assad family of the Alawite tribe. When a tribal society devolves into civil war, the ruling tribe will fight tooth and nail to remain in place, because the alternative is genocide.
This explains the savagery we are seeing in Syria. Assad and his side are fighting for more than to just remain in power; they are fighting for their families lives, the lives of their extended families, their towns, villages, farms and land holdings, and for the very existence of the Alawite way of life.
The humanitarian crisis alone is reason for some kind of international role. On top of that, the stability of the region is at risk. If Syria falls to al Qaeda, Jordan is next. And yet the dilemma remains; whose side to take? In other words, there simply are no good guys in this mess.
Out of some kind of desperate sentiment to impose constraint on Assad, President Obama pronounced his famous "red line": the use of chemical weapons would be the trigger for US military intervention against the Assad regime. The rebels heard him say it, of course. In the wake of the Damascus chemical attacks of 21 August, there remains uncertainty regarding who actually conducted the attacks.
In other words, are the rebels capable of releasing chemical weapons on their own people, in order to bring international military force against the dictator Assad's forces?
Secretary of State John Kerry referenced the above photograph when making his speech yesterday, trying to drive home how awful the Syrian chemical attack was as he tried to convince us why we should go to war. One problem. The picture isn't even from Syria. It's from Iraq in 2003. The photographer, Marco di Lauro, said he nearly "fell off his chair" when he saw it was being used to promote a war in Syria.
The rules of carrying a firearm include: you NEVER draw the weapon unless you fully intend to use deadly force. Obama displayed his weaponry when he tossed his "red line" out there. Somebody called him on it, and now it looks like the President of the United States has been called on a bluff.
Planning 101 demands that for any endeavor, there should be a quantifiable objective. So far I haven't heard discussion of any possible objectives in Syria. Apparently there are NO objectives to an internationalist military intervention in Syria - or that any desirable outcome would be extremely costly - our usual allies the British and the French are in no hurry to wade into this briar patch.
The foundation of US foreign policy is Teddy Roosevelt's doctrine: "Walk softly and carry a big stick," not "Shoot your mouth off and then back down when the bad guys call you out." That's three big mistakes by Mr. Barack Hussein Obama.
Amateur hour, if you ask me.
- STORMBRINGER SENDS