We have become such a polarized people that it
has become difficult, if not impossible, to embrace the middle ground.
Each side is certain of its rightfulness. Embracing the simple fact that
nothing is simple, and that every problem and its solution has nuance
and complications, is somehow seen as compromise or defeat. Exploring
options and changing tactics based on unpredictable circumstances is
seen as a lack of firm leadership.
Hence, all the criticism of
Obama who is trying to find a footing on Syria that allows us to uphold
our national principles, punish wrongdoers and yet still foster peace.
Issues of right and wrong, war and peace, enslavement and freedom are
insanely difficult. If they were easy, we'd all be enjoying peace,
liberty and prosperity. One man's rebel is another man's freedom fighter.
I posit that no one currently has a suitable, simple answer for how to
address the Syrian civil war. Bring down the dictator and you might
empower terrorists in the opposition. Do nothing and you might embolden
other despots. Arm the insurgents and those weapons might fall into the
hands of unsavory elements. Punish Assad for gassing his people and you
might widen the conflict uncontrollably.
I applaud Obama for
having the courage to go before the American people, the Congress and
the diplomatic community to outline the options, risks, duties and
dangers and to engage them in the moral debate.
This is not
weakness. This is thoughtful deliberation. He is being criticized for
zigging and zagging. But, it is an analytical intellect that can
articulate the complexities of a situation, exploring all the
possibilities. And it is courageous leadership to pull back from the
brink and exhibit peaceful restraint and moderation even after
threatening military reprisal.
There are those who think that
once a threat has been made, one must follow through on that threat with
stubborn bluster, no matter what the consequences, in order to appear
strong and certain, and to not lose face. This is my idea of weakness.
Obama knows he painted himself into a corner with his "red line"
remark. He knows that any action he takes or retreat he makes is fraught
with danger. He is briefed daily on the real threats to American
security from across the world. So, I think he understands the stakes
and is carefully weighing different courses of action and their
It is too facile for any one to be certain
of what to do and how to do it. I, for one, am grateful for any
development that delays military action. But, I also believe that
evil-doers on the world stage should be called out and confronted by the
In no way am I certain what should be
done. So, I guess it begs the question, "Are you certain about what
should be done about Assad, the insurgents and Syria?"
I'm very pleased to announce that I will be hosting a bi-weekly "Hump Day Hootenanny" at the Tiny Ninja Cafe beginning September 18th.
It's Wednesday. You need a break from the work-a-day world. So come enjoy some fine food, delicious drink, warm company and good music. Three Seattle singer-songwriters will perform in a song circle, singing some of their favorite tunes - originals and covers.
Hoot # 1: Nancy K Dillon, David Guilbault, Fred Evans