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View Diary: Taking Occam's Razor to the Syria diplomacy debacle (104 comments)

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  •  I thought Occam's Razor was supposed to... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sparhawk, Dumbo, Bensdad, JVolvo, caul

    ...take the simplest explanation.  That doesn't look like the simplest explanation to me.

    The simplest explanation is that Kerry was frustrated and made the comment in an offhand way, not expecting anything to come of it because nothing had come of those negotiations for a long time.  But Putin and Assad were finally coming to grips with the threat and took it as a lifeline out whether it is sincere or just a play to buy time.

    •  Your guess is as good as mine, but (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dracowyrm, Larsstephens, Sylv

      I'd argue that your explanation is less simple than mine, because it relies on more lucky bounces to get to where we are today. Also, it doesn't explain why Kerry didn't phrase it as a demand from the U.S., and why it wasn't part of the public discourse right from the start.

      Once again, though, these are just guesses. Not trying to get down on anyone.

      •  Hmm, well... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sparhawk, Bensdad, JVolvo, caul

        ...your explanation was that this was all orchestrated and fairly complicated, whereas I think that this did rely a lot (though not completely) on luck.  Effective brinksmanship is always a potential outcome when you're threatening something serious, but you still need to be lucky that it worked out the way you hoped since it is out of your control.

        Why didn't Kerry phrase it as a demand or make it public?  Well, it was a known demand for a long, long time, but probably also because it would fail the moral argument put forth as the rationale for the attacks.  Let me put it this way: if the State of Florida had said to George Zimmerman "Look, just give up your gun and we'll call it all even" everyone would have been completely outraged.  That would be sort of the equivalent here: killed over a thousand people with poison gas?  Ok, hand it over.

        •  Exactly. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JVolvo

          And what if Kerry had never been asked the question? How would he have articulated his diplomatic genius (which he has shown from day one -- snark).

          If you hate government, don't run for office in that government.

          by Bensdad on Thu Sep 12, 2013 at 05:45:50 PM PDT

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      •  It's only lucky if you don't want (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        corvo

        to bomb Syria.  I'm sure Bill Krystol doesn't feel lucky.  "Fuckin' Kerry shoulda kept his mouth shut.  Damn."

      •  public discourse? Oh wonderful (0+ / 0-)

        Sorry, you don't play any poker games with all your cards face up on the table.

        I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

        by samddobermann on Sat Sep 14, 2013 at 04:11:52 AM PDT

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    •  That's a far from simple explanation (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ybruti, Sylv, highacidity

      It presumes an amazing and nearly unprecedented process in that both Putin and Assad just spontaneously decided the time was right, didn't need to consult for any length of time with their advisors or each other, and within hours just said "okey doke".  Sorry, these things don't work that way. Lots of time spent dancing around each other with offers, counteroffers, suggestions, things on the table, off the table. And we already know the discussions had been underway as early as June 2012. I'd hazard a guess that the privaate meeting Putin and Obama had at the G20 was  a final (or near final) sign off on a proposed deal.

      “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

      by Catte Nappe on Thu Sep 12, 2013 at 02:17:13 PM PDT

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    •  Actually, it's the explanation with the fewest (0+ / 0-)

      new assumptions, and in that, this diary also fails the test.   There is one point this diary, and all the diaries calling the President a genius miss:  Britain's parliament voting down Cameron's AUMF.  That's why the President decided to go to Congress, and Congressional and intense public opposition is why he pounced on this.  

      I looked at and listened to his speech.  And it seems to me that it was a hastily crafted thing, trying to preserve all the macho bellicose posturing on display over these last weeks, with graft of diplomacy inartfully stitched on, evidence that the Russian and Syrian offer caught the admin flat-footed.

      "There's something wrong with a system where a handful of people have more than they'd ever need and the mass of the people have less than they always need." -- Rev. Joseph Lowery

      by caul on Fri Sep 13, 2013 at 02:39:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So, your argument is that the President wanted war (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nzanne, LanceBoyle, earthling1

        but was too stupid and inept to get it?

        My argument is that the President never wanted war.

        Your argument holds that the President wanted nothing more than to go into Syria with guns blazing, but he was hogtied by low poll numbers, Kerry's Immaculate Word Vomit moment, and Russia's magically powerful, kryptonite-like suggestion for preventing war. The crux of this argument is that Russia's 11th-hour suggestion has somehow proven to be an insurmountable challenge to an American administration bent on war - a challenge that the President was forced to meekly accept, for reasons never quite explained, and a challenge that ground the gears of the administration's war machine to a halt, for reasons also not explained.

        My argument, on the other hand, is that the President did not want war - that none of the major countries wanted war- and that what we've seen has been a series of clumsy yet ultimately effective diplomatic maneuvers. I understand that there is a difference between bellicose posturing and bellicose actions - and that bellicose posturing on the international stage is actually a commonly-used means of providing leverage for diplomacy.

        If your argument is the correct one, then the entire administration is currently gnashing its teeth and pulling its hair because they'd like nothing more than to soak themselves in Syrian blood, but they can't find a way to navigate around a vague, 11th-hour suggestion from freaking Russia.

        If my argument is correct, it holds that the administration was in a really bad spot with few avenues to maneuver, but luckily, so were Russia and Syria. They worked out an escape hatch for all involved, and that's what we're seeing.

        No genius, no 11d chess, none of that other garbage.

        •  Yelloweye, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TheDuckManCometh

          I have really enjoyed this conversation and your points.

          You're smarter than half the people [or more, as most of them are GOP] in DC.

          The number of children and teens killed by guns in one year would fill 134 classrooms of 20 students each. (Chlldren's Defense Fund, 2013)

          by nzanne on Fri Sep 13, 2013 at 06:11:34 AM PDT

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        •  I think the President initially never wanted war (0+ / 0-)

          I STILL don't think he wants war.  But once he made the argument for it and faced the pushback, I think he resigned himself to having to go through with it to maintain his credibility.

          Too may people mistake certainty for strength and leadership, when it may simply mean that you are too dumb or too stubborn or too beholden to certain interests to change your mind.  That's the political reality a President has to deal with, and we can hear it in the moaning by the likes of Bob Corker.

      •  Sorry for the tone, caul (0+ / 0-)

        There is a lag time between the drinking of the coffee and the effects of the coffee.

        On re-reading your statement, I was a bit too harsh. Sorry about that. Also, your argument was more nuanced than I realized at first. Anyway, I think that my point stands - that the two fundamental arguments are the "Obama wanted war and has been foiled" crowd, and the "Obama never wanted war but was in a tight spot" crowd. That's all.

        •  Good points, yelloweye (0+ / 0-)

          I think your Occams Razor argument holds more water than anything else postulated  here today. As of yet, anyway.

          The Job Killing Republican Party is directly responsible for the Great Bush Recession.

          by earthling1 on Fri Sep 13, 2013 at 02:37:51 PM PDT

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      •  NO, going to Congress was a delaying (0+ / 0-)

        tactic to give a little more time to come over and do what Obama wanted him to do.

        He had to keep Putin convinced he was dead serious about striking. That's why he said time and again he had the authority to strike without Congress approval.

        I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

        by samddobermann on Sat Sep 14, 2013 at 04:15:55 AM PDT

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