Barack Obama, Bashar al-Assad, Frédéric Chopin, John Kerry, one can expect anything, Pablo Picasso, Syria, Vladimir Putin
On Thursday, I went to Montreal to share lunch with a friend of many years. She had come from Ottawa and I, from Sherbrooke. Our friendship dates back to the year I studied in Montreal. We did, of course, discuss the weather and spent an hour or so shopping. But we then found a café and simply talked. We discussed Pauline Marois, the current “separatist” premier of Quebec. I told my friend that a few months ago Pauline Marois had hired someone to identify the wrongs currently inflicted on Quebec by Ottawa. My comment put an end to that part of the conversation. We laughed. However, I have since read that Pauline Marois and Justin Trudeau, the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, “may have just buried” separatism.
We went on to speak about Syria. We were both delighted that an “off-the-cuff” remark by US Secretary of State John Kerry (born 11 November 1943) had led Russian President Vladimir Putin (born 7 October 1952) to call on President Bashar al-Assad (born 11 September 1965) to put his chemical weapons under international control and to destroy them. There is an end to this intervention, which is its main but very real virtue. President Bashar al-Assad has warned that “after a strike, one can expect anything.”
President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961) has been described as “ambivalent” by CNN’s Gloria Borger. Given the events of the 2000s: two wars, a huge debt, not to mention the loss of life and limbs, one can understand why President Obama is a reticent warrior. Had there been a strike on Syria, the US would have led an international coalition and no one would have entered Syria, a sovereign country. Yet, a strike is dangerous. President Assad has warned that “after a strike, one can expect anything.”
Portrait of Olga, 1920 (Photo credit: Wikipaintings)
The use of chemical weapons, i.e. weapons of mass destruction, is prohibited under international law. Yet, on 21 August 2013, the Assad regime allowed 1,429 Syrians, including more than 400 children to be gassed to death. Can the international community simply stand by? Assad committed a crime and may have done so to draw the United States into a conflict with Syria and, possibly, with Russia. I would prefer to dismiss the idea of a setup, but I suspect political wranglings on a larger rather than smaller scale.Mother and Child, 1922 and Portrait of Olga reading, 1920 (Photo credit: Wikipaintings)
Despite its debt, the United States remains a “superpower” and it has a formidable arsenal. But it is a weary superpower and, by and large, US citizens oppose any action that could lead to yet another war. Consequently, President Obama had been seeking the support of Congress and that of his nation before entering into a military engagement: a strike. But there has now been an agreement. Russia has called on Syria to put its chemical weapons under international control and to destroy them and Syria has agreed to do as President Putin proposed. So why is President Putin entertaining the thought of a possible strike?
The Security Council
Russian President Vladimir Putin is indeed urging the US to “‘obey’ international law and not strike Syria without the approval of the United Nations.” On Thursday, 12 September 2013, he in fact “used the editorial pages of the New York Times to make his own personal address to the American people.” How very noble, but confusing! Again, hasn’t Russian President Vladimir Putin persuaded Syrian President Assad to put his chemical weapons under international supervision and to destroy them?
As I wrote in my last post, Syria on my Mind, the UN may serve rather than hinder Assad’s regime. If the Security Council votes in favour of a strike, Russia can veto that decision. Moreover, China is one of the five nations that may veto “punitive” — I do not like that word — action against Syria. The US owes China a fortune.
Back to Assad’s Agreement
I may be wrong, but I sense a motivation on the part of Russia to make itself a superpower intent on obstructing another or other superpower(s). Therefore, it may be prudent on the part of the United States to concentrate on making sure Syria puts its chemical weapons under international supervision and destroys them, as President Assad has agreed to do. I believe it would be wise on the part of the United States to insist that Assad keep his word or forever be mocked for lying to the world.
In other words, it would be my opinion that the US may be well-advised to pare the problem down to its smallest, yet enormous and central, component: the use of chemical weapons, weapons of mass destruction. It just could be that Secretary of State John Kerry’s off-the-cuff remark can be used as an off-the-hook opportunity.
The Shoe is on the other foot
On my way home, I kept thinking that it was hugely arrogant of President Assad to be warning the international community that “after a strike, one can expect anything.” The shoe is on the other foot. President Bashar al-Assad has violated an international law by using chemical weapons to kill indiscriminately 1,429 citizens of his country. It therefore seems that it is now the international community’s turn to tell President Assad that “after a strike, one can expect anything.”
Yet, as I wrote above, I believe that an intervention on the part of the United States should be limited to insisting that President Assad keep his word and put his chemical weapons under international supervision, ensuring they are destroyed. As I have noted above, Secretary of State John Kerry’s off-the-cuff remark and Assad’s compliance just may take the United States “off the hook.” John Kerry’s suggestion — that President Assad put his chemical weapons under international control — targets the offense, i.e. the use of a weapon of mass destruction, which, in my opinion, makes it an appropriate response. Not only does such an intervention have a foreseeable end, but it also addresses Assad’s warning that “after a strike, one can expect anything.”
[i] Olga Khokhlova, a Ballets Russes ballerina, married Pablo Picasso in 1918 and is the mother of his son Paulo. The marriage was not a happy one. The two separated in 1935, but Picasso would not consent to a divorce as Olga was entitled to one half of his wealth. Olga died in 1955.
—ooo—Frédéric Chopin (1 March 1810 – 17 October 1849) Nocturne No. 11 in G Minor, Op. 371 pianist: unidentified © Micheline Walker 14 September 2013 WordPress
*HE WHO NEVER BELIEVES ANOTHER HUMAN CAN NEVER BELIEVE IN GOD* … Even .. If God himself came to the earth in disguise … I have seen more than i can talk about in life … I never realized that i was being prepared for something larger than myself … My deceased mother murmured in the middle of the night and i will wake up and cry … I was in a boarding school whereby people can hear me cry … I was on my way back from Italy one day … Another American coming from Jerusalem gave me a *rosary and a stone*… We sat together on the plane … I never asked her for anything .. She gave it to me willingly and told me things about me … That … I had never told anyone before … I keep it in my hand bag or jacket always … Until they both disappeared after few months … I am not fabricating … Anything that i say can be verifiable … I have friends on Facebook … Who has known me since i was 14 years old … When my mother died with her twins on my birthday … And … we lived in the same dormitory in high school … You may hate me … but … Anything that i say will come to pass … And … Any warning that i give … You must yield to … I am not the mysterious God … Who is well capable of using any of us for his amazing grace … Sometimes … The power that we need to carry on is right here on earth … You just have to be “mindful” of your circumstances … Perhaps … Loving and listening to a total stranger could be a voice from heaven … And … “Heaven helps those who help themselves” …
I thank you for your kind support. It seems matters are resolving themselves. I so admire President Obama.
You too Dear … Thanks for your impute …
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Naomi Baltuck said:
I am saddened and sickened by the situation in Syria. But the majority of US citizens are opposed to jumping into yet another conflict with yet another country in the Middle East. The idea of a government using chemicals weapons against anyone is appalling, but so is the idea of another endless conflict where thousands up thousands of innocents are killed. I am hoping for a diplomatic solution, and an international response to help prevent war.
It’s a terrible situation. They are playing games using human lives. Have they not learned that life is sacred. I hope sincerely that a diplomatic settlement is achieved. All Assad has to do is respect his word and put his chemical weapons under international supervision. They will be destroyed. These are frightful weapons. Until the late 1970s, there were hospitals where veterans of W. W. I were treated: gas. Some never left hospital. Millions of Syrians have fled their country.
Ironically, we could choose to live peacefully, but we don’t.
Fortunately, President Obama is the current President of the United States. He is a very good person and exceptionally intelligent, solid and humble.
Thank you for writing Naomi. Hearing from you is always a privilege.
So pleased you had time with your friend. And I do hope that this new development will be the right solution for everyone.
Yesterday, just before publishing my post, I looked up the United Nations Web TV. It was a miracle. The events of 21 August 2013 are a “war crime.” In my opinion, one cannot possibly implement a strike on Syria if the offense is a crime. So I doubt that there will a military engagement on the part of the US. We have entered a new category. Criminals are taken to court and tried. Assad cannot threaten anymore and Russian President Putin cannot ask that the US obeys the law, i.e. a decision not to strike on the part of the UN Security Council. What a relief! It looks as if Assad is being declawed. As for President Putin, he made a huge mistake. He has stirred trouble internationally, except that President Obama will simply ignore him. I feel better Gallivanta. My friendship with Louyse dates back to the mid-1960s. We are now growing into “old” women. Take care Gallivanta.
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I scanned briefly your post and my eyes was fixed on chemical weapons. Watching recently a video of Agent Orange sprayed by USofA in Vietnam caused deformity on children after 40 years. I am disturb how America did such a thing. Now it happened, again, not by Americans. Does America has the right to intervene after what happened 40 years ago?
The US may be a superpower, but it cannot be looked upon as “exceptional” and intervene whenever a nation is playing war games. It has now been suggested that the US is “exceptional.” That cannot be the case. No pressure should be put on the US to settle conflicts outside its boarders. It hasn’t the right to do so and should not be asked to do so.
You’re right, atrocities were committed in Vietnam: Agent Orange.
The world has an “exceptional” force, the United Nations. Blue Bérets can be deployed, if necessary. But the diplomatic approach is the better approach and international laws should be respected.
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Cruz N. Manning said:
WASHINGTON, Oct. 1, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — While the international community focuses on securing Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, another ticking time bomb – this one humanitarian – is threatening millions of people inside Syria and in neighboring countries. More than 2 million Syrians, of whom more than half are children, have fled the fighting and taken refuge in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. Their presence is straining the resources of these countries, heightening tensions in the region. With fighting inside Syria showing no signs of abating, the United Nations estimates the number of refugees to reach 3 million by year’s end, exacerbating a situation that is quickly going from bad to worse.