Tag Archives: Assad

CONFUSION BREEDS CHAOS

            As you probably know, Vladmir Putin was a colonel in the KGB, the dreaded secret police organization of the Soviet Union: Meaning he specialized in everything from murder to international deception. Putin now majors in self-promotion sending out pictures of himself riding a horse shirtless, supposedly killing tigers, and practicing judo.  Recently, he stole a Super Bowl ring from Patriot’s owner Robert Kraft (although this issue is now under contention) He has clearly been the friend of Iran and Syria along with supplying the weapons to Assad to suppress his own people. Never underestimate Putin’s capacity to push himself to the front of the line. He has even hired an American PR firm to get his message in the newspapers.

            Putin showed up in the headlines of The New York Times lecturing President Obama and warning the American people about attacking Syria. You think this tyrant doesn’t know how to use propaganda?

The problem is that the Obama administration has been flapping around like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off. Jumping back and forth between threats and retreats, nobody is sure what they stand for or intend to do in Syria. For several years, they have had no clear cut stance on dealing with a tyrant like Assad and now are fishing for a way out of the bind Obama created with his own red line speech.

Enter Putin. While claiming to be a partner in diplomacy, he has overplayed his hand and betrayed his true purpose to gain global superiority. Never could he have reached for such a status if Obama had not dug himself into a hole. And nobody loves watching an adversary fall in the hole like Putin does.

America watched the Soviet Union sink and then attempted to be a friend to Russia as it struggled to regain integrity. Putin arose out of the chaos of Russia politics struggling to find footing. Putin remembers this time well and has been looking for a come back. By supplying arms to Assad, he has been able to payroll the arms industry in Russia.  Because we have been afraid to act decisively, he has continued to gain authority in world politics even if Russia ranks only around l8th in world economy.

Putin appears to be aiding Obama’s digging himself  out of the pit. But when you need the help of a former KGB officer to stabilize your position, you really are in trouble. Actually, Putin’s purpose is getting Syrian chemical weapons out of his own backyard. Only time will tell how far Putin is willing to go to enforce his grab for the top. My hunch I that there is no limit to how far he will attempt to reach.

This episode needs to remind us who Putin is and what he is about. There’s no happy ending to his story.

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Filed under America, middle east, Russia, Syria

CROSSROADS COMING

            The current situation in Syria has exposed a chasm in American foreign policy that has brought the United States to an unexpected crossroads. Not only has Syrian’s gassing of its own citizens introduced an even more deadly element in the Syrian conflict, it has revealed international indecision about how to respond.

            In last week’s blog, I was critical of President Obama and his staff’s lack of planning that left the administration exposed. The debate over attacking Syria should have occurred well before lines were drawn. Apparently, the president assumed he had America, Britain, and other allies standing behind him. The vote in Parliament left even the British Prime Minister shocked. Today, Obama virtually stands alone.

American Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain faced a similar surprise as his constituents in Arizonia told the war hawk they didn’t want Syria bombed and America drawn into another conflict. In Washington, it is not clear that Obama can carry the Senate or House. He may be the first American president to find that the Congress won’t stand with him against a common enemy.

Around the world the Bush-Cheney era actions are coming home to haunt the United States. Parliament blamed Tony Blair for swallowing Bush’s claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Vice-president Dick Cheney advocated water-boarding and bombing the enemy into oblivion.  Many nations apparently no longer have any sympathy for the Cheney’s of world politics. America appears to be one of them. American intelligence is still viewed as misleading and deceptive.

I have gone out of my way to talk with all kinds of people about their views on striking Syria. No one doubts Assad murdered his own people The problem is that after 10 years of unending and unproductive wars, we have become the most hated and despised nation in the world. (At least that what many of the people I’ve interviewed think.)  They point out that a “limited” strike still kills. These people no longer believe what the Washington politicians are saying. President Obama has now discovered that approximately 75% of the American public don’t agree with him.

Consequently, we have come to a crossroads.

Are Americans retreating from world leadership? Do moral issues like using poison gas no longer demand our response? Can nations like Iran and North Korea afford to gamble that our military might will not be used against tyranny and aggression. Must Israel decide to go it alone against Iran’s nuclear pursuits because American’s pronouncements cannot be counted on?

This week will possibly bring America to a show down. These issues loom over the landscape leaving frightening shadows. It is clear the American public no longer wants the government to be the world’s policeman. On the other hand, it is also evident the United Nations has failed in its role to guarantee world peace.  And then there’s Putin. If Obama fails, Putin wins. Are you ready for that one? Another crossroads indeed.

In this biog, I am suggesting that the American public and Congress must view the alternatives from the perspective of what kind of future this nation will have. The options are bad, but the alternatives are worse. The issues are far more serious than shooting missiles at Damascus. The issue is the future.

And we stand at a crossroads.

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Filed under America, middle east, Syria, War

SYRIA’S STRUGGLE AND SUFFERING

It doesn’t take long to understand how complex Middle Eastern struggles actually are. For example, The American State Department came up with the idea of a multibillion-dollar Iraqi police training program that was to be the centerpiece of a hugely expanded civilian mission. Since October, $500 million has already been spent. Now it turns out the Iraqi government didn’t want it in the first place, but no one asked them until after the money had been allocated. Now that the military is gone, the Iraqi government is aggressively asserting its sovereignty. And the police force idea is going down the drain. Sorry, State Department. You obviously didn’t pay enough attention to the locals.
Granted that it is much more difficult to know exactly what’s going on in Syria, but similar confusion appears to be ruling the day. Insiders appear to agree that Bashar Al-Assad is slowly hemorrhaging to death, but that’s not certain. Turkey currently hosts around 23,000 Syrian refugees running from Assad. Some fighting has spilled over into Lebanon. As Senator John McCain noted, “What is obvious and indisputable is that the Kofi Annan plan has failed.” What the cease fire idea actually accomplished was buying more buy for the Syrian regime to continue killing the opposition and civilians. However, citizens appear to have not given up their struggle to oust Assad.
Recently, Turkey’s prime minister personally addressed thousands of cheering Syrian refugees who had crossed into camps in Turkey. He proclaimed that Assad’s grip was growing weaker by the day and that victory was close. Whether his statement is true or not requires more information. The complete truth remains to be seen.
The Syrian regime has currently proposed elections in the near future. A new constitution was adopted that would limit a Syrian president to two seven-year terms Of course, Assad and his father ruled Syria for over 42 years. The idea of a new election in the midst of a civil war obviously hasn’t sparked enthusiasm.
The opposition immediately responded that without reforms any election would be meaningless. Haytham Manna, head of the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria, rejected the idea as ludicrous. He noted there are no characteristics of a normal election exist during war and upheaval. Assad appears only to be attempting to buy time – once again.
So where are we? Key constituencies supporting Assad include religious minorities such as Christians and Alawites. Both groups fear what a takeover by Sunni Muslim’s would do to them. (Assad is a Alawite, an off-shoot of Shiite Islam.)
Russia and China continue to attempt to shield the regime from harsh diplomatic sanctions. In a former blog, I pointed out that Russia is making millions (probably billions) by supply military arms and equipment to Syria. War lines the Russian pockets with gold. Western powers, including Turkey, remain unwilling to use force against Syria. The result? Stalemate.
Turkey prime minister told the refugees, “Sooner or later, those who have oppressed our Syrian brothers will be accounted for before their nation. Your victory is close.”
Sorry. Not close enough! (518 words)
Question: How long do you think the Assad regime can endure? By the way, why doesn’t the American government pay better attention to the daily circumstances unfolding in these foreign governments?

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Filed under middle east, Peace, Prayer, Travels