A few more thoughts about Syria

  • The criticism from Obama by some major foreign policy voices is either a sign that the administration has lost credibility with that establishment group or  part of some sort of meta-play by the Obama Admin.
    • It's important to remember that many of Obama's staffers have deep connections from the Clinton era as a part of "official Washington" - and that this process is being driven partly by those social connections as much as the facts on the ground.
  • The opposition from movement conservatives is predictable and knee-jerk. Nothing in their arguments convinces me that this is anything more than opportunism.
  • Likewise, Putin's motivations are to maintain a friendly regime and the access to the Mediterranean, full stop. His interest in civilians is politically beneficial; therefore its the position he takes.
  • Kerry is well connected globally thanks to his time in the senate foreign relations committee. His bellicose actions are deliberate, though the lack of coordination is genuine.
  • Obama's end game is continued American credibility and a continued taboo against chemical weapons. Putin's endgame is Russian power. Given the priorities, Russia may well come out visibly on top, looking good.
  • That's a worthwhile tradeoff.

A Follow-Up on Syria

At this point, you really shouldn't trust anything that anyone says about the Syria process. The conversations happening behind closed doors are markedly different than the public rhetoric, and I suspect that some of the heat the Obama Administration is getting is desired. The true history of this time will come out with Obama's papers - in the meantime, we can only guess.

On Syria

There is no clear option on Syria - we don't know if one or any option will work. I do believe the international taboo against chemical weapons is worth some spending to maintain it, but also that war is a Pandora's box. Let's hope the Russia play works.

Said Andrew Sullivan:
The money quote for me, apart from the deeply moving passage about poison gas use at the end, was his description of a letter from a service-member who told him, “We should not be the world’s policeman.” President Obama said, quite simply: “I agree.” And those on the far right who are accusing him of ceding the Middle East to Russia are half-right and yet completely wrong. What this remarkable breakthrough has brought about is a possible end to the dynamic in which America is both blamed for all the evils in the world and then also blamed for not stopping all of them. We desperately need to rebuild international cooperation to relieve us of that impossible burden in a cycle that can only hurt us and the West again and again.

I can't even imagine the workfload, but a reminder that even the most creative have tropes.

On Names

When someone speaks your name, it has the power to turn you toward them – to turn your head, or your attention, or your steps, or sometimes your life.  Just the sound itself has that power – even before you consider what the sound means, before you start to remember all the stories and take account of all the synapses of relationship that are submerged in the meaning of such a simple thing as a single name.

The discovery of the true meanings of our names takes most of us a lifetime.  By the time most of us are adults, it’s as though a name has walked through the deep woods in all the ripest seasons, picking up meanings and memories that cling to it like burrs and milkweed fluff and the smells of life.  And when you speak such a pungent name as that, it not only turns the head of the person who bears it; it conjures something of the truth of the person you name.
  - A very reverend man that serves at my college