Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Man With The Teflon Conscience

America’s Consoler-in-Chief can still relate to his own pain.

U.S. State Department Officials Call for Strikes Against Syria’s Assad “Dozens of officials sign confidential document protesting Obama administration policy, urge regime change.” The mid- and high-level diplomats who signed the letter are the ones who are responsible for implementing, explaining and more importantly justifying the administration’s policy to colleagues from all over the world, and to Syrians. They have not had an easy time of it since day one, especially in regard to justification. Theirs is a President with a Teflon conscience, a man obsessed with the kind of guarantees only God could deliver before embarking on a serious action. Yet, if there is anything that conflicts such as the one in Syria could demonstrate, it’s the total irrelevance, if not absence, of God. Since the beginning the President has been concerned with the possibility of being sucked into a potential black-hole, which is why he avoided intervention, except in the minimalist possible sense. But the problem with man-made black-holes is that they have the nasty habit of calling on those who try to ignore them.

This is how IS was born, and this why it quickly evolved from a JV team into an international threat, and a domestic one. People like Omar Mateen, Syed Farooq, Tashfeen Malik and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev might be motivated more by personal issues than ideology, but that does not matter. Thanks to the fearmongering and racism of politicians like Donald Trump and other Republican figures, and the IS propaganda machine America is already feeling the impact of the Syrian conflict. In fact, it is just beginning to do so. Indeed, the situation has become so bad U.N. Genocide Watchdog had to speak out against it:

“At a time when there was greatest need for sympathy and solidarity, I was appalled by the immediate and shameful efforts of some political and religious leaders to manipulate and politicize the events in Orlando to fuel fear, intolerance, and hatred,” Adama Dieng, the U.N. special advisor to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the prevention of genocide, said Friday in a statement. Dieng stopped short of calling out Trump by name. But he criticized calls by “some politicians to cite radical Islam as the cause of the attack in Orlando, to ban Muslims from the United States, and to label all Muslims as terrorists.”

In Europe, the refugee crisis, driven mostly by those escaping the Syrian conflict, has created an existential crisis that might spell the end of the EU. Meanwhile, it’s creating a rightwing backlash that threatens social and political stability in many countries. Soon, both in Europe and the United States, violence and acts of terrorism perpetrated by the Far Right will soon exceed anything Islamist terrorist have ever done or could do, at least on the short term, in the foreseeable future on Western soil.

Not that any of this will matter to he who sets impossible standards for giving a damn about stopping mass slaughter, not even if the reports about John Kerry’s endorsement of the Dissent Letter were true, and despite the fact that not only  diplomats think that the administration’s Syria policy was a disaster: many top journalists and pundits who have been following the tragedy as it unfolded in real time also do, for instance the stars of MSNBC The Morning Joe. The man is impervious to dissent – a psychological trait that puts him in the same rank as Bashar Al-Assad. Indeed, it’s not surprising to how swiftly the President has given the brush-off to his critics. His is a Teflon conscience, and he will be out of White House long before he has to worry about any of his Syria decisions coming to take a generous bite out of his flabby ass. With this in mind: White House Rejects Internal Critique of Syria Policy. And Moscow never really needed to issue any warnings. The thing didn’t even amount to a tempest in a teapot, and was more like a solitary old bee caught buzzing in a thimble and was crushed for her troubles by the owner’s pitiless thumb without having a chance to sting.

Syrians have become all too familiar with this particular side of President Obama

While, Obama keep giving his backside to Syrians, the Russian keep giving them their bombs, delivered straight to their homes, hospitals and schools. Indeed, in what seems like a response to the SD dissenters, Putin just bombed the shit out of U.S.-backed rebels in the southern parts of the country near the borders with Jordan. He is a better postman, and is willing to ring twice come snow or sleet.

Russian aircraft have not been active in this area of Southern Syria for some time, and there were no Syrian regime or Russian ground forces in the vicinity," a senior defense official said. "Russia's latest actions raise serious concern about Russian intentions. We will seek an explanation from Russia on why it took this action and assurances this will not happen again."

Ultimately though, I judge Obama’s Syria policy by its results: it’s a policy that let a nonviolent protest movement devolve into an armed rebellion ushering the way to a bloody civil war that got more and more complicated by the day. It’s a policy that generated half a million dead, 12 million displaced and untold millions of wounded and handicapped. In the process, it has also generated a global terrorist threat, that will not disappear even after the defeat of IS in Iraq and Syria, as well as an ongoing threat to Europe’s unity. It helped further inflame the proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and allowed for the resurgence of an aggressive Russia on the global stage with repercussions far beyond the borders of the Middle East. It is allowing for a major abuser of human rights to retain power and to keep perpetrating his abuses, seemingly unstoppable, making a mockery out of various international conventions and norms often invoked and backed by the U.S. thus undermining its credibility as well as its ability to deter similar developments in the future. A resurgent far right wing in Europe and the U.S. is using the refugee crisis, generated mostly by the Syrian conflict, as well as the terror threat emanating from it, as a way to create a new mass appeal for its xenophobic and racist policies, and is succeeding to an alarming degree as the rise of Donald Trump in the U.S. and the assassination of British Labor MP Jo Cox demonstrate.

Yet, at every step of the conflict and down to this current moment in time, President Obama, his advisors, and their supporters in the policymaking community and academic circles continue to argue that intervention would have been worse. If that’s so, if the best that they could do is to give us a choice between allowing this kind of mayhem or creating an even worse one, then, this is a very sad commentary on the leadership skills of the people involved, and tells more about the limits of their vision, imagination and their moral sense than about the limits of power per se. The insanity of the Obama administration and the political class supporting it is a mere symptom of a greater malaise with which the country needs to deal, a malaise that infects both the Left and the Right, the poor and the rich, and the highly educated as well as the minimally so. We need to diagnose the nature of this malaise first, and reach some consensus on that in a large and diverse enough circle of public figures before we can do proceed to tackle it.


Mr. Obama came to office in 2009 scoring George W. Bush for the high price of his interventions abroad. In the human and strategic tragedy that is today’s Syria, the world is learning that the failure to intervene can exact an even higher price. 


Still, and despite the pervasiveness of Syria-related fuckery these days, some Syrian immigrants still managed to rise well high above the fray: Syrian Immigrant Who Said 9/11 ‘Changed The World For Good’ Is A Homeland Security Adviser. “Laila Alawa was one of just 15 people tapped to serve on the newly-formed HSAC Subcommittee on Countering Violent Extremism in 2015 — the same year she became an American citizen. Just last week, the subcommittee submitted a report to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, recommending that the DHS avoid using Muslim terminology like the words “sharia” and “jihad” when discussing terrorism.