Tag Archives: Syria

What just happened?

Last week, life was just so simple. Donald Trump was a narcissistic sociopath and I disagreed with everything he did. This week, he is still a narcissistic sociopath but I agree with something he did, what the hell happened?

English: Brasilia - The president of the Syria...

English: Brasilia – The president of the Syrian Arab Republic, Bashar Al-Assad during a visit to Congress Português do Brasil: Brasília – O presidente da República Árabe Síria, Bashar Al-Assad, em visita ao Congresso Nacional (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Syrian President Bashar al Assad decided to up the game in the civil war in his country by dropping Sarin gas on Tuesday. People say, “That doesn’t make sense, he is winning. Why would he do this?” Well, there are some ideas as to why Assad would gas his own people. None of them are good reasons but there are some ideas.

This is from a piece in the New York Times

“Militarily, there is no need,” said Bente Scheller, the Middle East director of the Berlin-based Heinrich Böll Foundation. “But it spreads the message: You are at our mercy. Don’t ask for international law. You see, it doesn’t protect even a child.”

This is not the first time Assad has gassed his people. More from the NY Times piece:

The fall of Idlib led to another turning point: Russia’s full-on entry into the conflict, adding its firepower to the Syrian government’s. Russia said it entered to fight the Islamic State, but directed most of its strikes at places farther west, like Idlib, where rival insurgents more urgently threatened government forces.

Chlorine attacks continued — investigators from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations concluded the government had carried out at least three in 2014 and 2015 — with little international reaction.

Now, I am in the strange position of supporting Trump and military action. Liberal friends of mine say, “Yeah, this is like Iraq.” There are a number of reasons that this is not like Iraq. In the first place, we bombed an airfield. If it worked, it knocked out a way for Assad to bomb more people. In the second place, the Iraq invasion was misguided for a number of reasons and that country wasn’t six years into a violent civil war that had caused one of the largest refugee crises of our time. There are five million refugees because of this.

To equate this conflict with other things going on is silly. To say what we did was a “war crime” is crazy. I do not support Trump but I support what he did in Syria last night. I suspect hell is freezing over.

Molehills out of mountains and vice versa

In the middle of a campaign for the most important position in the country, we should be talking about the global economy, tensions around the world such as problems in Iran, Syria and elsewhere.  We should be talking about how to best prepare ourselves for the new economic circumstances our world now inhabits or how to overhaul our tax and entitlements systems.

But we are not.

The GOP presidential nominees aren’t talking about these things.  They are focused on contraception and questions of “good and evil.”  The Republican Party, seems intent on not returning our country to a more prosperous state but to a different era.  It has become normal for politicians on both sides to wax nostalgic about “the good old days.”  Those days seems always have been in the 1950s, when — by the way, the tax rates for the highest earners was at its highest level ever.   But the current crop of candidates don’t think going back to even the 50s is enough.

I get why the Republicans feel the need to return to social and religious issues, their base loves it.  Think about what they want to talk about: contraception, religious wars, gay marriage.  Really?

Newsflash:  It’s 2012, Women can vote and most use contraception.  Gay marriage will be legal everywhere in the United States during my lifetime.  Nothing you do will change either of those facts.  Just to be as clear on this as possible — you are on the wrong side of history on these issues but that isn’t the real problem.  History doesn’t care.  The problem is by wasting everyone’s time on issues that won’t be changed at this level, we fail to talk about the policies that will.  You cheapen the process.

All of this is great for the Democrats.  And I want President Obama to win.  But as good as this is for his reelection prospects, it is bad for the country.  Presidential campaigns provide an opportunity to really examine and evaluate the state of the country and the best ways to deal with the challenges we face.  These should be lofty conversations and debates not petty bickering about social issues that were settled years ago (not to harp, but nothing Rick Santorum can do will turn that clock back).

When President Obama took office, I characterized the situation he faced as his “Himalayan problem.” All problems were so large individually but it was hard to gage their enormity when clumped together.  I misspoke, this was not his Himalayan problem, it was ours.  By choosing to focus on issues that excite  one base or another at the expense of those that impact all of us, the GOP is making molehills out of our Everest sized problems and that’s unfortunate.