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View Diary: Obama is smarter than I am (697 comments)

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  •  Actually, I don't think it's that complicated (6+ / 0-)

    Simply start with the premise of adhering to all the treaties which we've signed. That's a pretty easy starting point, as far as I can see. From there, one can quickly rule out unilateral action without UN approval. The whole "its too complicated for us to understand" thing is just more fog - politicians treating us like children, instead of like their employers, which we are.

    •  No that's not true on a practical basis (24+ / 0-)

      We are not the President's employer on a day to day basis.  Our republic doesn't work that way.  We are not some boss sitting in an office that can hand down a pink slip the day an infraction is realized or perceived.  We are an employer by proxy, by election.  We are not micro-managers of our elected officials.  We can bring pressure on them, replace them in office on election day but we vote in a person to manage, give them a contract for a period of time, and expect them to do the best with what they have during that period.  

      Do you want the President sharing every piece of information that falls across his desk every day with all 150 million of us, even the highly classified and sensitive stuff?  In essence we are like children compared to the officials that deal in international diplomacy, put their lives on the line each and every day.  

      But Rachael, this is the first President since Carter that I've felt has actually not treated me like a child.  He's not lied.  He's been competent, hasn't gotten into inane pissing matches with the other side that would have done nothing but played into their hands.  He's helped keep us out of depression in spite of horrific odds.  He has not been rocked with true scandal, raised a wonderful and loving family in front of us, been there to comfort the nation when we've grieved.  

      History will prove you wrong.  You can quote me on that.

      •  Much of what you say is true... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        artmartin, caul

        about the relationship between employer and employee in this case, and I'll grant you that Obama has been better than most in terms of treating us with respect. But that gets away from the real point that the Syria decision isn't actually all that complicated.

        We set up the means to deal with this sort of thing, the U.N. We signed and ratified the treaty. Aside from the glaring duplicity of claiming to enforce international norms by breaking international law, these organizations and procedures were implemented for a reason. The Syria situation is as clear a case as any for why the U.N. was chartered in the first place. If the President has some secret information he can't share with us that somehow makes the case for war, then he should be making that case at the U.N.

        Arguing that because Russia would veto any resolution, so we can't use the U.N. route is not an answer - we cannot simply ignore the treaties we ratified when their implementation doesn't produce the result we want. If there is a legitimate case that the U.N. isn't working for some reason, then let the President make THAT case - not the case for why we should toss international law out the window in order to enforce "international norms" of behavior.

        •  Syria is incredibly complicated. (9+ / 0-)

          It's a a sectarian crossroads in the Middle East, with all of its neighbors (and Russia and us for better or worse) having fingers in the pie to greater or lesser degree, based on sectarian loyalties.  Removing the brutual dictator holding it all together by sheer force (see Hussein al-Tikriti, Sheikh Saddam), causes the whole thing to fall apart into a disaster that no one can fix without force.

          That's why we hesitate.  If Assad is removed, there is chaos across the Middle East, and that's not hyperbole.  If he remains in power, he continues to brutalize and we look weak.  Not a good sign to send to Iran, North Korea, etc.

          There are no good options, not even any least bad options, which begs the question:  How does one address the issue of a butcher in power?  Bullies, all the way back to the schoolyard, only understand one language, the language of violence or threat of violence.  We can give peace a chance till the cows come home, but it's not worked up to now...

          •  The situation in Syria IS complex, (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            snoopydawg, caul

            but our response to it is not. We follow the law, no more, no less. Make the case to the UN, if they order a strike, make one, and if they do not order a strike, then don't make one. If we don't like the way the UN works, we should start negotiating to change the UN - you don't get to break the law just because you don't like it. You work to change the law if you don't agree with it. No different for countries than it is for people. And making the complex is only and effort at post hoc rationalization of a decision already made. Perhaps made with the best intentions, but nevertheless wrong.

            •  Erm, no (0+ / 0-)

              As someone who had to steal for food when I was a kid, I am not moved by the appeals of law and order.

              Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

              by moviemeister76 on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 11:10:37 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  So you advocate withdrawing from the UN? (0+ / 0-)

                Because that's what denouncing its authority amounts to. You seem to be suggesting that the US can simply ignore treaties we don't like whenever it suits us. Does that mean it was ok for Bush to ignore the Geneva conventions and order torture? Laws are all we have, and if we give that up, we are not the country we claim to be.

            •  But it was my understanding, (0+ / 0-)

              correct me please if I'm wrong, that the chemical weapons ban was a UN mandate.  If the signatories to that treaty don't want to uphold it, then the UN is as meaningless as any neocon claims it is...

        •  and had he made that case (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          zizi, mmacdDE, FiredUpInCA, Gurnt

          then what?  Our "liberal" media would have sung his praises?  His detractors on here would have suddenly turned into true followers?  The rest of the world would have suddenly put daisies in their gun barrels and stopped killing one another or would the issue would have just died until the next gas attack?  I don't know the answer to that but it was clear the UN wouldn't budge and the Mideast would not have stepped up to cleaning up their own house.  

          I truly do want the same thing you do but the mess from the really bad guys we elected in the past remains and the cleanup isn't simple or black and white.  

          Your statements to me sound like someone going to the race tracks to bet should always ensure the horses they put money on are the ones raised perfectly, organic diets, never abused, never penned up, hugged twice daily.  Would the racing industry improve from that behavior?  Who knows.  I'd say the people making money hand over fist could care less you keep throwing your money away as their abused and drugged up animals kick ass but you'd feel pure and not a thing would change.

          International diplomacy is dirty and scary business.  Not all the players are honorable and many cheat and prosper from that cheating.  To see them scammed a bit with some brinkmanship, even if it isn't pure and perfect is much like watching the old move The Sting.  There's terrible risks but it's the heart behind the tactics that matters.  This wasn't George Bush or Ronald Reagan.  It was a street smart Jimmy Carter at work.

          •  What happened to government of laws, (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            artmartin, snoopydawg, caul

            not of men? So it is ok to skirt the law if President has a good heart? Wow. Not much to say to that. The treaty establishing the UN charter is law, law the US is obligated to follow. It does not matter if Obama has a pure heart (which I won't comment on one way or the other); what matters is if he follows the law. If he breaks the law to do what he thinks is right, he is no better than Bush or anyone else who breaks the law in service of their own idea of what is right.

            •  so what law did he break (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Gurnt

              by threatening?  It sounds as if you're going with the assumption that he truly intended to strike.  I have thought from early on that it wasn't the intent.  

              One problem with just counting on the UN, regardless of how they vote, is that pressure was building within our elected leadership (McCain, Graham, even some more hawkish Dems) to do something in Syria, take sides, and we were doing that to an extent or at least looking the other way while allies were doing it.  Eventually that was going to backfire on us because of the makeup of the rebels.  They were becoming more and more radicalized each day and the horrific violence on both sides against innocent civilians was building to a fevered pitch.  

              When the gas attack hit, I think that the UN was probably the first choice but remember how severely Putin entered the fray making it clear that even if there was some brokered agreement that he and China had full intent to slow it to a crawl until Assad could get a clear advantage.  I think Obama saw his in, a way out of the madness but it required a con, considerable risk and a test of the Americans and our allies to see if they had truly wearied of war and we could begin to change the culture.  UN action would not have changed the culture.  It would be a bandaid as it had been in the past if it even could be brought about to act.

              •  The basic prohibition (5+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                snoopydawg, caul, Johnny Q, Rachael7, artmartin

                against threat or use of force.

                For example:

                All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

                U.N. Charter, Article 2, Section 4

                About current U.S. threats of force, and at the same time hoping Syria will sign the Chemical Weapons Convention, see Manchin/Heitcamp Syria Proposal and the Vienna Convention on Treaties at Lawfare.
              •  It isn't a matter of "counting on the UN" (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                artmartin

                The UN is the only body with the legal authority to take armed action, unless and until Syria attacks us. If someone keys your car, the fact that you can't count on the police to apprehend the culprit does not give you the right to go beat someone up, even if you have compelling evidence they did it. That is the way the law works. Unless you are advocating we withdraw from the UN, we are obligated to "count" on it, whether it works the way we want or not.

                •  Acting against someone keying your car (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Rachael7

                  might only prevent another car from being keyed.  Inaction is certainly not a serious threat to society.  I believe this went beyond the bounds of justified "vigilantism" because inaction could easily mean millions more deaths if the world is drawn into this conflict.  While a case can be made that the threat of force can create this scenario, an equally valid case can be made that the hornet's nest of horrors can spread like cancer unless unchecked quickly before it hits the critical stage.  While the UN may be the preferred path to dealing with the issue, it seems clear that it would have been a long and drawn out process.  My opinion and that of many others is that we didn't have that kind of time.

                  Your points are valid by the way.  I'm not dismissing them.

    •  You don't think intervening in the Middle East (7+ / 0-)

      is complicated?

      That if you look past the bombing, then what? What's the next step?

      Does Assad stay in power? If not, who will be? How will it change all the alliances Syria has and what will happen, as a result, to the countries that now get along with Syria and those that don't?

      You don't see that it's like a giant Jenga puzzle? Pull one piece out, and it's no telling what happens? As easy to make things worse as it is to make things better?

      Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

      by teresahill on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 03:42:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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